Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Devil is in the Details

Jeff and I were talking tonight about ways to be an encouragement to our boys - ways to help them become good men. A parenting article I read recently suggested that the way to really effect change in children is to comment more on practicing skills ahead of time - before a troubling situation arises. In the article, the example used was how to handle tantrums. Before a tantrum occurs, practice self-control with the child and praise him for the little successes. 

If your child's temper tantrums "normally" involve stamping her feet and screaming and hitting, the practice sessions should be about how to have a "good tantrum" in which she does not hit and keeps her hands at her sides. Then practice again and tell him this time to try to keep his hands at his sides and just move his feet up and down. Continue practicing and each time praise that the next step that the child achieved, "You really worked hard to keep your hands at your sides. This time let's work on moving our feet up and down instead of stamping them on the floor." Along these lines. 

The common theme to the many parenting articles I've read is to stress the good that our children do, to focus more on their achievements when they're struggling and not so much on where they've messed up - where they've failed again. So tonight I suggested to Jeff that, just as an experiment we should try to focus on those areas in which our four olders manage small successes. We're seeing fewer and fewer Legos and Pokemon cards laying around the house without having to fuss about it. That's a tiny step; we do still have a LOT of picking up that we do around the house, but the focus is on the positive, right? 

I mentioned that it's hard to do that sometimes, when we're irritated by something the kids have done. He disagreed, but you know... it is hard and that's where the Devil wants us. Something that should be so easy - focusing on the positive - is hard. It's hard in the heat of the moment, when we're angry, when we're not calm because we've dealt with the same. exact. issue. over and over and over. When we feel like we've taught our children the same lesson so many times and they still don't get it right. 

The Devil wants us to think it's "easy" even while he's making it hard. 

When we feel like it should be easy, and we're in the middle of the struggle, we feel guilty when we fail. And the more we hear the Devil's voice, the more we want to give up - that is exactly what he wants us to do: GIVE UP! 

But there is benefit to the struggle itself. Each time we get a little closer to the goal is a success for we parents too. We are forged in the fire. If I stop myself from yelling this time, moderate my voice and still get my message across, that's a win for me and not for the guy in red with the horns!

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1 comment:

  1. Tillie, it sounds like you are making great progress in this area. We have a 'now' wonderful son who used to have a problew with food allergies becoming hitting and kicking at 5 and 6. We didn't know why, but we knew we needed to use discipline so he wouldn't think he had an out and blame his problems on food (or anything else for that matter). We spanked and were very calm, using the Word of God to focus into the specific problem of self-control. We assured him that he would be happier in the long run if he could be self-controlled no matter what. It might even save him time in prison or worse. With much prayer and consistent work on all our parts, he is an absolutely delightful leader-type with great skill in helping people with this same issue!! He is almost 19, has his own business, and loves the Lord and his Word. While not perfect, he is thankful we took 9 years!!


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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