When there is an issue with a child consider 1 of 3 possibilities:
#1. Teach/Train – You haven’t yet fully taught, trained and equipped your child with the behavior you DO want. We should be teaching in the time of peace as a proactive measure to set our kids up for success. If you are frustrated with your child’s behavior, ask yourself what have you done to teach and train them. A great way to measure this is ask, ‘What did you do wrong?’ If they honestly can not answer you, then you haven’t yet trained them (therefore ‘discipline’ is punishment, not corrective). Make it fun, role play, be silly, teach with simple easy instructions or games.
#2. Parent Issue – Your child is doing something that is triggering something in you and the change needs to happen on your end, not theirs. God is allowing your child to ‘touch’ that part of you that needs healing so that you can get free and be at peace.
#3. Hurt, Lie or Offense – The child has a hurt, lie or offense that is causing a heart splinter and they are acting out the agitation that is going on inside of them.
How in the world are we to know which one it is? ASK! Psalms 139. ‘Holy Spirit, is this issue theirs or mine?’ ‘What does their heart need?’ ‘What does my heart need?’ ‘Can you please give me a creative solution for handling this?’
When I had 4 kids under 4, including twins, the one area that drove me nuts was sharing. The constant need to referee who had what toy and someone else crying over it was a full time job! I remember thinking there was no way I was going to survive 18 years of this. God gave me a great solution which we named the ‘2 minute rule’. Anytime someone wanted something you had you ONLY had 2 responses, ‘Yes!’ and be a joyful giver on the spot or you could say, ‘In 2 minutes’ which taught the other person to be patient. It was a win/win situation. No need for tears because they were empowered with how to handle the situation. To this day I am able to reap the fruit of this because their character had a chance to grow in the midst of conflict. What is something in your house causing chaos? Ask Holy Spirit to give you a creative way to equip your children to handle the situation and aid in their character development.
Watering a Wilted Heart
Have you ever seen a plant that just desperately needs a drink? My daughter looked that way to me the other day, and I told the others to find something to do for 30 minutes while I had an in-home date with her. I told her to meet me in the rec room in 5 minutes. She had no idea what was happening, but was waiting for me. I walked in, handed her a drink, and told her I just wanted her all to myself for a few moments. I began to ask her questions about her heart, life, friends, and school. Her comment to me when we were done 15 minutes later was “I feel so alive Mom”. Just because we are with our kids ALL the time doesn’t mean we have their hearts. Ask Holy Spirit how you can creatively water their heart today in a unique and meaningful way.
There was a time I wasn’t fully engaged with my daughter and grossly misunderstood something and then reacted strongly. Later when it all came out, I realized how hurt she was and that she didn’t feel validated or heard. When I asked her for forgiveness I sensed Holy Spirit saying to add, “Father God is never too busy. He always hears your heart and knows everything about you”. Often times for children it isn’t the event that causes lasting wounds, but the lies about the Godhead that are attached to it. It is okay that my children know I am human, but they need to know Father God is rock solid, never loses His cool, is always available, always alert, never sleeps, never makes a mistake, isn’t overwhelmed, is never unsure of what to do, isn’t mad/upset, and is never too busy. As a mom, I can take my weakest moments with my children and use them as opportunities to teach them about their Perfect Father!
We have a tradition in our home that has produced a lot of joy. I got a rubber duck with kisses all over it and put it on a child’s bed with a note. They loved it so much that they wrote a note for someone else and placed it on their bed. We have so much fun surprising each other with where the duck shows up and the sweet note that is attached to it. This is a great way to teach the children how to actively show love to others. Why not adopt your own love duck?
What does a child with a splinter in their heart look like? They act out, scream, yell, disobey, withdraw, pinch, hit, kick, isolate, slam doors, demand, cause trouble with siblings, have nightmares, cry, are rude, mean, don’t care, disrespectful, etc! This is why it is so vital to empower parents. You are the one who knows what is normal for your child. You are the one who knows when they are acting out from being hungry, tired, or if something is out of line. You have known their cry since they were first ushered into your arms. You are the one God entrusted to listen to and care for them. When something seems out of character ask Holy Spirit to show you what is going on inside of them. It may have nothing to do with their outward behavior. A child who is afraid may be acting very bossy. A child who believes the lie they are unlovable may be acting like a bully. A child who is offended may act like they don’t care.
I often ask parents in my classes, “Did you have a Mom/Dad who saw the treasure in you? How would your childhood have been different if you would have had a parent who constantly called out the GOOD in you? What kind of parent do you want your children to have?” Their answers generally indicate that they did not have parents who called out the treasure in them. I am always on the lookout for creative ways to communicate to my children their worth and value (not just what they DO, but who they ARE). I bought a bag of Hershey Kisses and each day I placed a Kiss and note on one of their beds. The note consisted of a truth, declaration or affirmation of who they are.
Want to try something fun with Holy Spirit?
Spend some intentional time with Him and ask Him these questions:
Holy Spirit, would you please highlight one of my children to me (just watch whoever pops up in your mind – you could ‘hear’ that child’s name or see a picture of them in your mind).
Holy Spirit, would you please bring to mind an event that recently happened with that child?
Holy Spirit, was that issue my child’s or mine?
Holy Spirit, what did their/my heart need in that moment?
Holy Spirit, would you please give me a creative way to meet that need?