Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Club Thursday | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

We are reading through the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman.  All direct quotes are in bold type.

This weeks post is actually a continuation of last week's post.  There was so much to share, that I ended up breaking it apart even further so you would not end up reading one excruciatingly long post.

The best way to develop a sound conscience in your child is to teach him or her accountability. You teach accountability by setting the guidelines- the rules, if you please.

We live in an ever changing world where accountability is becoming a very foreign concept.  As we all saw in the news over the last couple of weeks, crimes can be committed and the culprit can be found not guilty and not held responsible for their part in causing a tragedy to happen (as a mother of a three year old and currently 7 months pregnant, hearing the verdict in the case alluded to was heartbreaking and absolutely incredible).

Teaching our children that there are rules that we expect them to follow and that there are no loopholes to our rules, will help them not only learn accountability but also help them become very valuable and contributing  members of society and one day a valuable employee to an employer.

I am always amazed at Addie when she follows a rule that we may have set up some time before, but she still remembers it and follows it without our prompting.  On Netflix, I will often put on an episode of Sesame Street for her.  However, because we do not want to expose her to magic or spells (our personal conviction on the matter), she is not allowed to watch the Abby Cadabby's Flying Fairy School segment.  The first couple of times it came on, I simply fast forwarded through it and said, "We don't watch magic, Mama, because Jesus does not like magic." (Our conviction is based on Deut. 18:9-14 and several passages in the New Testament) Now, many months after our initial teaching of this rule, I may not even be in the room, but when Abby Cadabby comes on, even if it is not the Fairy School Segment, she will call me into the living room, tell me that Abby Cadabby is on, and that I need to change it because we don't watch magic.  The same thing has happened at the beginning of the Mickey Mouse Club when Mickey says the "magic" words for the clubhouse to appear.  She is learning accountability and is praised for following the rules even when we are not in the room. 

Another developer of the conscience is the concept of forgiveness. The only way we can ever teach a child to say, "I'm sorry," is for him to hear it from our lips first. Parents always train up their children in the way they should go by example.

When Addie gets corrected for something and says, "I'm sorry," our response is, "I (We) forgive you, Addie."  Why?  Because just saying "It's okay," does not close the account and move things on.  We need to show our children what forgiveness sounds like, feels like, and looks like.    When Jesus spoke to people and their sin was in the way, He always told them, "Your sins are forgiven," and at times, "Now go and sin no more." 

Addie has gotten into the role playing stage.  When playing with her dolls in the doll house, she gives different voices to each character. When she says, "I'm sorry," to us and Jesus, many times she will respond to herself, "I forgive you," as if Jesus is telling her that He forgives her.  But if we had never used the word "forgive" she would never know that Jesus had forgiven her for what she had done.

Proverbs 22:6 contains still another truth for training up children. The more correct Hebrew translation of the verse is "Train up a child in his own way...." This does not mean you let the child have his own way and let him do whatever he wants (permissiveness). What it does mean is every child is different. Training up a child in his own way means being willing to show each child that you realize he is an individual and that each situation needs to be handled according to his needs and temperament.

When we look at the way Jesus approached each person He ministered to, dealt with, and taught, we see that he reached each person at the place where they were and spoke to them where their needs were. He did not use a blanket approach in dealing with people because as their Creator He knew that each one was different and needed to be approached differently. They were all give the same message- He was the Son of God and the only one who could forgive their sins- but how He gave the message was different in each case.

Training our children in their own way will take time.  But if we truly want them to learn through loving discipline then time is something that we will have to be willing to give up.  As of right now, I have only had one gift to train and lovingly discipline, but very soon, I will have another blessing that I will have to work with. 

When Ian is born, I will begin the study of this new little person and learn what his temperament is, what makes him tick, what methods he will respond to, and which methods do not work.  Will the same approach we use with Addie work with him?  I don't know, but I have a feeling they may not.  I am not expecting him to be a carbon copy of Addie.  In fact, I don't want him to be.  I want him to be the unique individual that God created him to be.  Will it take more time and effort on our part to lovingly discipline him in a way that he will understand and respond to instead of just doing what worked with Addie?  Yes.  But we are very willing to teach him in the way that he learns best.

Resist the temptation to compare your son or daughter with others.

See this post from a few weeks ago.  Each child is unique.  It is completely unfair to them to compare them to an older/younger sibling, cousin, relative, or to some other child outside of the family.  God made each person completely different. 

Creation itself proves that God loves diversity and differences. You will never find two zebras with the same exact pattern of stripes, no two butterflies alike, even snowflakes that land on the ground and eventually melt are completely different.  In the same respect people, and especially children, are very different from each other. 

My cousin has a set of twin daughters. And although they are identical to each other in appearance and telling them apart is difficult, they are very different.  One has a beauty mark on her neck (which helps to distinguish who is who) and one does not.  One is shy and one is more outgoing. One will take a very long time to make a decision, and the other makes her decisions instantly. One likes cheese and the other does not.  And although on the outside they look exactly the same, we know they are not in personality.  Expecting them both to have the same preferences, responses, and tastes is completely unfair to them.

Comparing children is very tempting to do, especially when what we really want to say is, "Why can't you behave like so-and-so!" But comparing our children is completely wrong.  It does absolutely nothing for their spirits, self-esteem, or conscience.  If anything, it will only brood resentment towards the parent/person doing the comparing and the child they are being compared to.

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