24/7 FREE TIME

24/7 FREE TIME

24/7 free time is not a healthy recipe. Children will create their own fun, which generally becomes no fun at all. Children thrive best with structure mixed with lots of rest and play. 

TRAIN THEM

I was at the mall one day and witnessed something that I wanted to speak into. A child was given a toy by her grandma while the adults shopped in a store. The child was happy and content. A few minutes later, the four-year-old wandered over to the table with perfume bottles and began to play with them. Grandma came and yanked the girl’s arm away, and the girl resisted. She went back to the perfume bottles again and was playing with them. Grandma returned only to scold the girl sharply. A power struggle broke out. I 100% agree that it is not wise for a four-year-old to be playing with perfume bottles BUT can we take a small tour into the world of a four-year-old? She was given a toy and that is okay, but finds something else to play with quietly and is yanked, scolded and reprimanded. How is she supposed to know at four what is and what is not okay to touch unless someone teaches her? What would it have looked like if Grandma understood she was just touching and playing because it was there and on her level of reach and in her mind she honestly did not know the value of the bottles or what could happen if they fell on the floor or worse yet sprayed in her face? How do you think the girl would have responded if Grandma got down on her level, gently held her hand, looked in her eyes, and said firmly, “No, no touch,” and began to train the little girl to honor her voice? Grabbing, yanking, scolding, and yelling, do nothing to teach a child what is and is not okay. It breaks connection and confuses a child. TRAIN them in self-control and responding to your verbal command.

STRONG-WILLED?

Would you consider your child to be ‘strong-willed’? Then you need to be a stronger-willed parent in your resolve to equip them. Yes, these are the children who are born leaders and champions, but if they do not learn how to lead in love and submit to others, they will hurt people with their strength.

DADS ALIVE

Moms, do you want your husbands to come alive in the home? Then teach your children to HONOR and OBEY his instruction. Picture a general in an army making a big decision, seeing the bigger picture, and having soldiers who are constantly resisting and denying his authority. It creates chaos, frustration, and hinders his ability to lead the army where it needs to go. Children need to be TAUGHT about honor, respect, and authority. Their selfish nature and ‘me, me, me’ flesh need to be trained to acknowledge that Mom and Dad are the generals in the family and are accountable to God for their job. Your husband will naturally soar higher as the leader of the family when those in his care learn to honor and respect his leadership.

Need some help learning how to teach your children? Check out our CHARACTER MATTERS resource: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

GIVING CHOICES

I am all about empowering children, as my ministry is based on equipping parents on how to empower their children. However, I do not believe in empowering them BEFORE the child has first learned to submit. If you are empowering your young child by offering them a choice with everything you are teaching them, they are the master of their own world, which ultimately is not entirely true. Yes, they alone control themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are not accountable to an authority greater than themselves. Some things need to be submitted to, such as our relationship with God, our desires, Holy Spirit’s leading, stop signs, not playing in the street, harming another human, moral compass, relationships, righteousness, and so forth. We may be free to do as we choose, but that does not mean we want to raise children who are only motivated to respond when they are in control. I see parents of little ones so eager to empower their children. Yet, they are missing out on the required seasons of laying the foundation of character training and intentionally teaching children to submit to their authority. This is raising children who are defiant and full of entitlement.

Let me share an example: My daughter, who is a naturally born confident leader, went to babysit for a family. She returned and declared she would never do that again because the kids never listened to her. I encouraged another attempt. She again came through the door and stated the same thing. Not so eager to let her miss this golden opportunity to grow in her capacity to lead, I made her do it one more time. But this time, she came through the door and was most upset. I honestly could not figure out what was happening because this was a wonderful family. Shortly after, the mom asked me for a playdate, and we met at the park. Her toddler made a mess, and she asked, “Do you want a spanking now or a time out when we get home?” Instantly, I knew the problem my daughter was facing. When we got home, I asked her if she gave the kids a choice of when to go to bed. I asked if she gave them a choice of PJs. If she empowered them to decide if they wanted to brush their teeth or read their book first. My daughter was frustrated and said, “No, I just did what the mom told me to do with them, and they wouldn’t listen to a single thing I said.”

The problem was that she didn’t offer them choices, and the only way the child knew how to respond to authority was if they were in complete control of the option. This only works if, everywhere they go, people offer them choices to feel powerful, but that is not how the world is set up. Ultimately this is not true empowerment; this is entitlement. It is overwhelming to a small child who doesn’t even have the total brain capacity to always be in the driver’s seat. They are not orphans, but children set in families with parents who make healthy choices on their behalf.

A child must endure some training at home that establishes authority and how to surrender their will by trusting those God has given to care for them. The toddler years are when this is established and skipping this season and jumping right to empowerment will reap the fruit that will give parents a run for their money down the road. The definition of empowering means to give (someone) the authority or power to do something. If you give children something they do not know how to use properly, it is like giving a baby food before they know how to chew or a car before they know how to drive. We set our children up for messy accidents when we empower them before they are ready.

Do I believe in giving children space to make choices? YES! Do I believe in doing it before they have been first taught to trust your leadership? Not at all. Perhaps we can move away from the ‘do as I say’ control-based parenting and yet not swing so far to the other side where we skip some of the crucial character development that comes with being able to carry the weight of being truly empowered.

WHINING

I have an above-average sensitivity to whining. It grates on me deeply. I taught my children from the toddler years that if they whine, they lose. I even typed it up and framed it on the wall in our kitchen on their level (along with other house rules). I first taught them in the time of peace what I did want from them, and we role-played what whiny and peaceful words looked like. Then the first time they whined to get their way, I got on their level and said, “When you are ready to use your big girl words, let me know,” and I would walk away. It took a matter of seconds before they came chasing me and changed their tone. Whining is a lack of self-control and orphan. I want my children to speak to me with confidence and self-control. I laid the foundation, and this was something that brought a lot of peace in our homes.

HONORING YOU

It is very difficult for a child to release the Kingdom at the store if they are on the floor pitching a fit because you did not buy them a toy. They will have a harder time hearing God’s voice if they haven’t been taught to listen to yours first. You will have a greater challenge getting them to be ‘others’ focused if they have been taught that they are the only ones that matter. Character matters!

CALLING CHILDREN HIGHER

This is a great write-up from my friend who is an outstanding mother raising solid children. I agree that we cannot force our children to do anything, but we absolutely are called to create a lifestyle where we expect love, respect, and kindness from our children. It is taught, reinforced, and intentionally gone after by parents who value the process of character training.

“During this holiday season: My kids will be required to be warm and loving to all of their relatives, whether they see them often or see them a few times a year. They will be expected to behave, and though I can’t force them to *love* anything, they will be expected to appreciate every friend and family event we attend (hello, 6 Christmases). They will be given the knowledge that they are so lucky to have so many friends and family to celebrate with. They will say thank you and be grateful for every single gift that is given to them, regardless if it’s something they would choose for themselves. They will once again be taught that someone took time out of their busy life to think of them and used their hard-earned money to purchase them something and that – regardless of what is in the present – the act behind getting it is more than enough to be thankful for. As their parent, I will remember this too. Our guests can overstay, overshare, give us advice, come bearing gifts or come just as themselves with no gift at all, tell my girls they are beautiful without bringing up that they are also intelligent and immensely capable of anything they put their minds to – and even if ALL of it is ‘unwanted,’ we will smile and be grateful that we have people who care enough to do so. I keep seeing these posts about kids not being required to show love (which can be shown in more ways than just hugging) to relatives they don’t see often. They don’t have to behave at or love the events they attend. I see posts about not giving parents unwanted advice or warning about guests overstaying their welcome. I see posts about what kinds of gifts are considered acceptable, posts about how we shouldn’t call young girls pretty and should replace it with different words, and all it makes me think is, my goodness (!!). When did all of these things – compliments, gifts, friendly visits, advice, showing love towards a child, family spending time with family… things more often motivated by love than not – become things we need to put so many rules on? My kids will be taught that people show love in different and sometimes funny ways but to always look behind the gesture and see that, more often than not, it is love. As for me and my family, we will give the benefit of the doubt. 

Sincerely, The odd mom out?”

CHORES

What makes chores an actual ‘chore’ to a child is when we have taught them that they do not need to help out or be an active part of the family. If they are taught that it is Mom’s job to do everything, then, of course, they will resist when you ask them to pitch in or do something. It becomes an inconvenience for them to help you. Teaching them that tasks around the house are vital to keeping a home running and soliciting their help empowers them to belong to something greater than themselves. Empowering them when they are young is key but be encouraged that it is never too late to instill the character of serving, helping, and being a blessing.

LAYING THE FOUNDATION

FIRST – When an issue comes up, you must ask yourself, “Have I taught, trained, and equipped them in this area?” That means, have you proactively taught them how to handle disappointments, the difference between right and wrong, how to handle when someone else wants your toy, or how to respond when someone is being unloving before the conflict? These things require intentional parenting in times of peace. This is where you get to cuddle, connect, go on dates, have family meetings, etc. You get to fill up their love tanks by connecting through intentional teaching with Mom and Dad. Much of the early toddler years are spent doing this very thing – some days without ceasing! It is the heart that says, “Hey, son/daughter, I have something to show (or teach) you.”

SECOND – Look for opportunities in real life to apply the thing you are trying to teach. This is where the training part comes in. You practice, practice, practice with real-life situations. Will a 2-year-old master self-control in the first week? Nope! You will be an intentional parent for 18 years and will need to teach and train them in the area of self-control in every stage of their life. Perhaps with a 2-year-old, your training subject will not be getting the toy they desire. When they are 10, it will be about completing their homework each night, and perhaps when they are 18, it will be having self-control with the opposite sex. These character traits should be something we build upon as they get older.

THIRD – You now have a foundation upon which you can build. Say you have already laid the first and second part of the foundation in the area of self-control. Now, when you take them to a meeting where they need to sit quietly, you can pull out that teaching and training to prepare them for what you expect from them. You can begin role-playing in certain situations. I would often park the van at the grocery store parking lot to do a quick family huddle about what was expected and how we could proactively use the skills I had just taught them. Here’s what it would sound like: “Hey guys, who wants dinner tonight? Okay, we are going to go into the grocery store for food, not toys. Hudson, will you get the door for us? Lauren, do you want to push the cart? Emma, will you be my big helper and put the food in the cart for me?” I am now leaning into the skills that I have taught them and cashing in on them. I am building us all up for a successful shopping trip. We are all doing our part while we are connected and creating fun family memories versus an unfruitful and frustrating experience for all.

LAST – When a foundation has been established, THEN you can add discipline, such as time-outs, consequences, removing privileges, etc. Can you see how confusing it would be to a child when parents keep disciplining them for the ‘NO’ behaviors but never spend time teaching them what IS acceptable? You could say it looks like this:

  • An issue arises that you want to see a change in (every family will be different on this).
  • Proactively teach during times of peace, using it as a connecting time to get to their heart. 
  • Now coach them by role-playing that issue in real-life situations. 
  • Look for opportunities where they can proactively apply that skill.
  • Discipline is now appropriate if the child chooses not to use the training you have established for them. 

Here’s another real-life example: Let’s say you are shopping, and your kids are touching everything, running crazy, and having a meltdown for a new toy. You have a few options. You can: #1. Conclude your children aren’t old enough for an outing to the store, and thus put the burden on yourself to either pay for a sitter or go late after they are in bed. #2. Get mad, yell, scream, and then feel awful! OR #3. Teach and train your children what it looks like to have self-control at the store. I heard a story of a mom who was so fed up with her grocery trips that she sat her kids down and explained to them what was required. Then every single day for an entire week, they would go to the store, not to buy anything, just to walk up and down the aisles so the kids could practice! That mom is now reaping the tasty fruit of grocery shopping in peace. Oh, did you hear that? What was the Kingdom of God again? Righteousness, peace, and joy! What is a specific area you need to intentionally go after in teaching and training your child?

ANTI-BULLYING

I wholeheartedly agree that school shootings are not a gun issue but a heart issue. Unresolved hurts turn into offenses, and offenses turn into bitterness. Bitterness is a gateway for the enemy to carry out his plan on earth to kill, steal and destroy through us. What is sad about these shootings is that the shooter is riddled with hurts that never got addressed or validated. Are you passionate about keeping our children safe? Then do YOUR part and talk to YOUR child about bullying. What is it? How does it happen? Why does it happen? Ask if they have witnessed it. Talk about how they can overcome the spirit of fear and intimidation. Talk about taking a public stand against someone who appears powerful. Show them how Jesus stood up to the powerful people of His day. Empower them. Equip them. Train them.

Here is a great resource for you as a parent (there are many, but the point is to do SOMETHING about it in your own home). Click on the link, print out the Anti-Bully Pledge card, and sign it as a family. StopBullying.gov