My first post on beautiful blessings can be found here https://rememberingeli.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/beautiful-blessings/
I want to break up this series in segments that make sense in my scattered brain; so bear with me!
Years ago when I did not always see my children as blessings, I know that part of the reason was that they did not always behave. Some of the things they did irritated me. Things like whining, arguing, disobeying, throwing fits, etc. For the record, my kids still do these things; but it seems to be less once I understood that they were not taught what to do instead of those things. I was the one who needed training! I needed to learn how to train these kids! I needed help and started to seek out biblical parenting resources.
I am not here to say that I have all the answers! I read a lot of books, ask a lot of experienced parents, and read a lot of blogs. Some of the information is really helpful and some I discard. I just know that when I started to train my children from bad habits, it really has made a difference in the atmosphere in our home.
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.
I learned that I can train my children to the right response and discipline for negative responses. This is still ongoing today! This is the HARD work I was telling you all about! But, I have seen the sweet rewards of this! I will explain some of those rewards in another post! But for now I want to talk about the importance of training.
It take time, patience, and commitment to train our children. We teach our children to use the potty, sleep in a big bed, eat from a spoon, ride a bike, etc. There are a number of things we teach our children, most of them without thinking that training is happening. This is the same thing, but teaching our children how to respond when they do not like something. So when one of my children start to complain about a chore they have to do. I say something like this, “Remember what mama says about obeying right away, with a happy heart. When you say yes mama and do the chore, that is obeying.” I want to give them the correct response first, they do not always repeat the correct response though. If the child still complains (I have strong-willed kids…you bet some of them still complain) I say, “I can hear and see with my eyes that you are not obeying, you can now do 2 chores instead of the one.” This happened the other morning. My child was not happy to do 2 chores, but the next day when he had the 1 chore, he obeyed right away with a smile. (They get a chocolate chip if they say yes mama and do what is asked of them).
I try really hard to relish the times my children disobey! Yes I said RELISH! Why you ask???? Because it then lets me train them and help build their character. This is good stuff! So when I am in the middle of doing something (which is always) and one of my children need to be corrected, I can sometimes feel the irritation start to rise (have you ever felt that?) But after many times of this happening, and my smiling and asking God to help train my child, I really do not see these times as irritations or interruptions anymore; just more good training time. Sometimes that means that my older child has to wait on me helping her with spelling while I train a younger one. Sometimes it means, that the homemade biscuits stayed in the oven a little longer than intended. Sometimes it means being very flexible. But this mindset is building my character too! God is so good to teach me along with my kids what it means to walk with Him.
I now have a 1-year-old baby in the house again! This spells…TORNADO! She loves to go through a room and create quite the storm while she pulls things off the shelves, takes toys apart, throw her toys around, etc. I used to allow this behavior from my other young toddlers as I thought this is just what they do. But I never liked this behavior. Now though, I stop what I am doing and correct any behavior that I do not want. There are about 3 shelves that she is not to touch. It is liberating that I have taught her about the boundaries and she is accepting them (okay, she is learning to accept them 🙂 Will she continue to go to those 3 shelves? Yes, because she wants to test the boundaries, and I say…YAY!!! Another opportunity to teach her! Do I still sigh, grumble, and complain (yes, I am afraid that I do, but God is so patient with me, that I go to Him and forgives me daily for this sin in my life). It is not always easy to see the blessings of dying to yourself; sometimes it is quite painful. But as mothers; we are called to die to ourselves and put the needs of our husband and children before ourselves.
We have a saying in our home called JOY! It stands for Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last. This is hard to live out. But the more I do this, the more I see my children for the blessings that they are. This statement of JOY if for everyone in our family. We talk about it, practice it, and pray for it.
We have a chair in our house that is called the grumbling, whining, complaining, fit throwing chair. My children know that if they start any of those behaviors (not the youngest 1-year-old) then they will have to go to that chair. A lot of times, they stop what they are fussing about. If they persist and do not go to the chair, they then get a punishment. The chair is not a punishment, it is just a place to go when they start acting up.
Sometimes when someone starts to ask for something in a whining voice, I repeat what they said, but without the whine and have them repeat it back to me. This may take a while, some of mine have had to repeat things many times until they reached a nice tone of voice, but they did not care for doing this and have hardly had to repeat this.
Some of my kids have stomped up the stairs when they were angry. I then make them try that again until they can nicely walk up and down the stairs. They are not fans of this, but I really want them to practice doing the behavior in the acceptable way in our home. I think of it like math flash cards. If they get a problem wrong, we may need to go back to the flash cards and practice some more.
I try my very best (and fail sometimes) to talk in low tones. This serves two purposes. It allows me to keep my anger and temper in check and to not yell. Also it makes for them to quiet down to listen to my voice. This has helped a lot, since I want them to talk in a respectful way to me and other people in the family; so they should see me talking this way to them as well.
I give grace! I find it hard to discipline my children when they are over tired or hungry when it was me who is to blame! My 2 older kids can go without snacks between meals. But my 3-year-old cannot. If I forget a snack one day and he is very cranky…I try and give grace, because he really is hungry. That does not mean he can hit, kick, scream at any of us, but it does mean that I pull back on the discipline. I also will have him practice the desired behavior after a nap or snack.
Part 3 of this series will be about routines and schedules and what happens when we got off them!