Looking for new ways to parent your littles? Need some fresh ideas? I’d love to share a few things that I learned years ago. These few tips may help you in the insanity that parenting can be some days. In the process, you will be raising respectful and godly young men or women.
The hubby and I were church virgins back in 2002 (ish). Some friends had invited us to join them. One Sunday, there were tables on the patio with opportunities to join a small group. Of course, we didn’t know what a small group was, but knew we wanted to get plugged in. So, why not join an 18-week study called, “Growing Kids God’s Way.”
(here’s the book if you’d like to check it out).This study, taught by Gary and Anne Ezzo, was about reaching the heart of your child with a God-centered purpose. Eric and I were like, “Parenting?”we need all the help we can get. Our kids were 4, 6, 8, and 10 years old at this time. We dove in.
Yes, the commitment was hard. It wasn’t always easy finding a babysitter. Work schedules were crazy sometimes; but, we stuck with it and I can say that it changed us as parents, as husband and wife, and it changed my kids too. The great part was that our oldest noticed a change in us. And he liked it, saying, “You guys are changing, huh?” Now, I am not claiming to have learned the perfect parenting techniques and my kids are not at all angels right now, in their young adult years. I believe some of these tips equipped my kids for relationships and for learning how to parent their kids. Someday. Let’s not get all crazy now thinking I am gonna be a grandma soon.
We didn’t get these right the first time we tried them. We didn’t just check it off the list, “Okay, we did that one, what’s next?” This study is meant to offer tools to use for years to come and to keep practicing. There will be, what we feel are battles, but there will be beautiful victories as well. With that said, here you go:
Picture it. Your son or daughter is playing nicely with some blocks, Legos, Little Ponies, or Barbies (or whatever the littles play with these days) scattered all over the floor. You realize it’s time to leave for an appointment or to go pick up another kid from school and you need to gather said kid on the floor to get in the car to go. You tell them it’s time to go. You immediately see this precious little starting to possibly go into meltdown mode because they weren’t done playing. They were in the zone. Before you know it, you’ve been battling with that precious little and are now having to carry him/her out to the car.
The 5-minute warning is helpful in these situations. You may have to modify it, depending on your child, or the age of your child. Most children have no sense of time either so get creative. So, let’s say you’re in the same situation as above. You give your child a five or ten minute warning to let them know that you’ll be leaving soon and to start cleaning up. You are preparing them. They have it in their mind that playtime will be coming to an end. It’s not just thrown on them at the last minute. You can start with ten minutes and then come back with the five-minute warning. This really helped us especially because we had 4 kids. One could be playing a video game, one could be playing basketball, one could be playing with her baby dolls, and the other could be in the tupperware cupboard in the kitchen. Can you imagine how smooth it could be? Can you imagine the chaos had they all went into a hissy fit?
Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM. Moooommm! You’ve heard them. You’ve heard the screaming. You’ve had a kid crawl all over you, grab your hand or pant leg or just be plain disruptive when you are in the middle of something or talking with someone, say at church. The interrupt rule helps your child learn how to interrupt with grace, patience, and peace. Your child would simply place their hand on your shoulder or your arm. You simply put your hand on his/hers, letting them know you acknowledge their presence. When you are able to take a break in the conversation to address your child’s need, you can do so without your child’s verbal or behavioral disruption. The important thing is to not wait too long though. You want to be kind or respectful to your child, especially if it is important. This may take some practice. The first few times you may find yourself apologizing to others. Simply tell them, “We’re working on it.” My kids did this all the way through high school and I think a few times as adults. I love it!
Your Children Are Not the Center of Your Family.
When you and your spouse became husband and wife, you became an instant family. The two of you. When you have children, they become added members to your family. They are not meant to be the center of the family. Life isn’t meant to be centered around your kids. Now, I realize this one is tough when we have kids in sports and extracurricular activities. Believe me, I know this. I have lived through these years. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt.
The idea here is that your kids see you and husband and wife. You can show your kids that you have your spouse’s back if they happen to start getting sassy. You get to tell your son/daughter how important your husband or wife is, how much you love them, and they will not talk to them with disrespect. You get what I mean? We are going to have those times when our kids take up more of our attention. I get it. Don’t forget that your family started with you and your wife/husband.
This one was fun and we made every effort to do this each day. In the study, we heard a story of a child that would consistently go into her parents’ bed in the middle of the night. Every. Night. The parents were baffled. They were tired. They couldn’t figure out what was going on. It finally came down to the fact that this was the only time this little girl saw her parents together. In bed. In the middle of the night. This really opened our eyes.
You might think, “We’re always together.” Yes, you may be cooking alongside each other in the kitchen, one stirring a pot at the stove and the other cutting up veggies, with your backs to each other. You may be working on a project or something that is keeping you busy. To your kids, this isn’t “together” time. Couch Time is simply taking 15-20 minutes of the day, before dinner, when everyone gets home from work or wherever you were. You let the kids know that mommy and daddy are going to chat for a while and they can quietly play on the floor or nearby. You sit on the couch for 15 or 20 minutes. That’s all you need. You could simply go over your family calendar together, make a grocery list, or make plans for a date night. Now, your kids get to see you, face-to-face, having a conversation, no chores, no cooking. Kids dig this! So, in the story I mentioned earlier, the little girl learned to stay in her bed, sleeping peacefully, after seeing her parents together in this manner, over time. Try it. You will not be disappointed.
Delayed Obedience is Disobedience.
I can remember times of asking my kids to do a simple chore like pick up their toys, take out the trash, brush their teeth, or clean up their room. You know the old school trick. The count-to-three move. Remember it? If you don’t use it on your kids, your mother may have tried it with you. I’d tell one to do something and if they didn’t do it right then, I’d count…One…Two…Three. “Growing Kids…” taught me that delayed obedience is disobedience. Obedience is when the task is done right when asked. Why would we let our child have until we count to three before realizing they are disobeying what we asked of them? We need to teach our kids to be obedient the first time asked. Give your kids some grace if they are in the middle of something and can’t do it right that minute. Teach them to respond verbally with “I got it” or “Just one second”, letting you know that they heard you.
My kids weren’t skipping and jumping with joy all the time when we were implementing these simple things in our family. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns at first, but with persistence and consistency, there was great reward. My children grew beautiful hearts. They turned into kind and respectful humans, not only to me and Eric, but to others as well.
These are only a few of the things we learned in the “Growing Kids God’s Way”study. I may not agree with every one of them, but these stood out to me the most. Give them a try. Let me know how they are working or not working. Let me know how I can pray for you in the battles or celebrate with you in the victories. You’ve got a village here, rallying alongside you.
Hugging you so tight,