ASK LISA – MENU OF CONSEQUENCES

I love reading your advice and stories. Mine are going through a phase of ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’ and they walk off. I don’t even know where to start now because it feels like a step backward.

I love reading your advice and stories. Mine are going through a phase of ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’ and they walk off. I don’t even know where to start now because it feels like a step backward.

This stuff seriously is where I come alive. Why? Because this is where our children get to grow into who they are called to be. What they are going through, even at the ages of four and seven, is part of their training development, and that makes me excited.

Let’s break this down – what is really going on? I could call this a lack of self-control and respect. Do we want our 4-year-olds to run away from their sitters or our 7-year-olds to do that in the classroom? I think not. The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, meaning our parenting job description should include setting the bar to reflect righteousness (the fruit of the Spirit). Can a four and seven-year-old learn self-control and respect – YES!!!! I would gather them in a time of peace and role-play. “When Mom tells you to do something, this is what I DO want from you (act it out). This is what I do NOT want (role play).” Then have them practice. Give them a simple instruction and ask them how to show you how NOT to respond. Give room for silliness and for joy to break out. I would come up with a specific consequence for when they choose not to honor your instructions. Something like, “When Mom tells you to do something, and you tell me no and run away, this will happen (insert consequence).” It becomes a menu – you do this, and this happens. There is no guesswork for either party. A + B = C – period. The consequence has to be something that puts the discomfort of their choice back on them (yes, even at 4 and 7). Healthy consequences may include remaining in their room until they can A. Apologize to you for not listening, and B. Do it differently. The goal is not punishment for their crime but rather creating space for them to grow in their ability to do it better.

In the hours ahead, when you ask them to do something, and they respond the wrong way, lovingly go to them, get down on their level, look them in the eyes and say, “Remember the game we played today? Is this the right response?” Give them an opportunity to do it better. When they do, praise them and champion their right choice. If they resist, refuse, or continue with an attitude, you have a much larger heart issue, and I want to lovingly say this does not go away with time or as they age – it gets stronger. I would then move into consequences. If they continue to be stubborn, I would carry on with your role-playing in real life. Say they come to you with a specific request (can we go to the park? Can I have a snack?). This is your golden opportunity to respond to them the way they did to you earlier. They will be stunned. Then, lovingly get down on their level and say, “How did it feel to your heart when Mom said/did that?” And help them see that you treat people with kindness and honor in your family. You will spend the rest of your parenting cashing in on the foundation you build in these younger years. Teaching them to obey your instructions and treat you with respect will reap fruit (either way) for years to come. It is a worthy investment.

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