BROCCOLI BAR

BROCCOLI BAR

My daughter was having a tough time with her brother thinking it was funny to put his toe right up against the doorway to her room. He never went in but was taunting her, and she was biting the bait. She came to me exasperated. Holy Spirit had me teach her that he was getting a thrill out of her reaction. He doesn’t care about going into her room; he loves the rise it is causing her. It is making him feel powerful (of course, none of this was appropriate on his end), but this is an annoying thing about people kids must learn to overcome. I told her that every time she freaks out, it was like she was giving him chocolate. Of course, he would want more. But when we take the ‘fun’ out of our reaction, it is like handing him a candy bar made of broccoli. Ah, no thanks! I encouraged her to go up and ignore him, blow it off, and soon enough, it won’t be fun for him anymore. She invited him in, and then he ran away. He never wanted to enter; he wanted to bug her! When my kids find themselves in that situation again, I simply say, “Give them a broccoli bar.”

This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

ME, ME, ME FIRST!

We had a situation when the twins were four years old down at the park – they both wanted to go up the ladder first and stood there arguing about it. Finally, I explained that someone had to give in and let the other person go. Every time they went down the slide, they would come back and repeat their argument. Finally, I declared “park over,” and we came home. I sat them down and had an intentional teaching time. Jesus says those who are last are first in the Kingdom. We practiced someone being first and someone being last. We instilled a phrase in them: “Ah, no, YOU go first!” It works because they see the heart of being last, which means you are blessed, and there is no lack. Years later, we are still using that phrase as a reminder. 

***My twins are now adults, and they often talk about this day. It has reaped so much good fruit in them. If you need to teach your children about character, check out our Character Counts digital resource: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

TAKE BACK GROUND IN OUR FAMILIES

Is sibling conflict breaking out in your home? It did in our house, and I AM SO GLAD! I am keeping our days moving by having a balance of rest, school, and movement. I got two of them settled on a project and took another for a brisk walk with the dog. While coming back inside the house, I could FEEL strife and knew there was conflict. My daughter came to me sobbing, telling me how she was mean to her sister and pushed her. Her tears were massive, and she was fully repentant, confessing her wrongdoings. I told her she was indeed wrong and that a consequence was appropriate, but that life was pretty hard these days, and I wanted her to spend an hour in her room alone processing and giving her heart a voice to herself. She is my easy-going, always smiling, glass-is-half-full child, and her heart needed to get real – life IS challenging right now. I moved to the other child involved, who flashed this massive smile across her face as I approached her. She did not know that I knew about the conflict. I asked how she was doing, and she said, “Great.” I said, “Really? How can you be doing great if your sister just pushed you?” and she burst into tears. I instructed her too to go into her room and spend an hour giving her heart a voice. She not only lied to me but herself. I went to her after a bit, and she began to unpack how her sister doesn’t like her and has been rude and disrespectful to her for days and that her heart was hurting. I went back to the offending child and asked what was going on, and she, too, broke down, telling of pains and hurts that have been piling up between them. 

“NO ONE LIKES ME”

Has your child ever come home from school, youth group, or a friend’s house and declared that their peers do not like them? It is hard to hear, isn’t it? Let me empower you on how to help your child walk through it. It is brutal to feel like you don’t belong because God created us with wiring TO belong. Belonging was one of the things stolen in the Garden. When a child experiences belonging, they start becoming who they are called to be. When a child experiences a lack of acceptance, they shrink back and partner with timidity and smallness, which robs those around them of who they were created to be. There are reasons why children experience a lack of belonging with their peers. Sometimes they do not fit in because there is something within them that needs to be matured or revealed. Humility and intentional parenting are required to help them overcome. Let me give you an example.

Years ago, I was a nanny for one of the wealthiest families in Minnesota. The six-year-old girl loved opening soda cans and pouring out all of the sweet sugar. The bees loved it too. The family’s full-time caretaker asked her many times to please stop. She looked at him and said, “My name is Anna ___. I can do whatever I want.” Her parents almost lost two employees that day. My first thought was, “How sad that where your parents failed to teach you, your peers will.” That attitude won’t fly with peers; they could care less about how much money your daddy has or how spoiled you have been at home. You can’t do whatever you want just because you feel like it and have been falsely empowered to do so at home. In this case, the response from peers, while it wouldn’t feel good, is a gift to help you see where you may need to come into greater maturity. One of my goals in parenting has been to accurately discern my child’s weaknesses and help empower them with tools for success and growth so that they don’t have to learn it the hard way through the rejection of peers. But there are times when nothing about the child warrants pushback from peers, but it happens anyway. I want to open your view of what is happening. Satan hates unity. There is strength in numbers, and his goal is to separate and devour. When there is love and unity among us, God’s Kingdom advances. There is an assignment against your child in this area specifically, and none of them are exempt from having to walk through this. Something happens, say three girls are hanging out and one girl feels left out of the conversation, which feels uncomfortable, but then the enemy comes and whispers, “You are all alone. No one likes you,” and it may FEEL true at that moment. A child partners with it, and now the lie is a part of their belief system.

Another example is that a child makes a foolish comment that lacks maturity (which happens all the time and should be expected of a child who has not yet become a full adult), and the receiver owns the comment as truth. They must be taught that not all comments, even from the popular kids, are true and accurate. Another example might be when the teacher calls on a student, and they don’t know the answer. This is common and normal in a classroom setting where everyone is learning and growing. The child feels embarrassed, and the enemy whispers shame and smears their intelligence with lies. They then shrink back in shame with their peers. When a child is partnering with shame and rejection as their identity, other children can feel it, even if their minds don’t understand it. It is like they have a sign on their back that says, “I am rejected.” Sometimes when a child reports over and over how others are treating them, it is wise to ask Jesus to reveal what lies they are believing about themselves (and therefore projecting). The next time your child declares no one likes them, ask Jesus to show you if this is a lack of character on their part that requires additional parenting help or if it is an attack of the enemy on their identity.

CHARACTER MATTERS

We have been to plenty of hotels where the children above us raced the floors, keeping us up at night. I have used it as a time not to judge but to explain to the kids that their choices do affect others. One night, Ellie (then 9) was bouncing a small ball against the stairs in our hotel room, playing by herself. Thirty minutes later, the front desk called, saying the people below us complained about the noise. I called her over, explained the situation, and asked how she would like to handle it. She said she would stop immediately and asked if she could write them a note apologizing. What I loved about her response is that she had the awareness she had affected them and was eager to not only stop but make it right with them. There is a difference between caring about what people think and caring about the way we affect those around us.

CHARACTER IS KINGDOM

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!

SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP

What would our schools look like if every parent sat humbly with their child’s teacher, asked for an honest review of their child, and then spent the summer months empowering and equipping them to grow in character? Teachers have a great view of how your child treats others, responds to authority, and interacts with peers. Simply put, they see how your child behaves when you aren’t watching. Every child has areas to grow in; it is the nature of a child. Childhood isn’t the time to expect perfection but rather the time to empower them with tools to be successful in life. Areas of growth in the classroom include listening well, respecting authority, serving others, being kind, being able to control their body and mouth, stewarding what they are responsible for (homework, gym clothes, library books), and being a blessing vs. distraction in class.

TRAIN THEM

Years ago, I was invited to a mom’s night out with our local twin’s club and hungered for deep girlfriend time. I had four-month-old twins and just discovered we were pregnant again. Little did I know how that evening would change my life. These seasoned moms began to share the horror stories of taking twins out in public – each story topping the next with embarrassment over unruly children in public places. One lady raised her glass to toast ‘eating out in public with twins’ goodbye. Something about this conversation was upsetting to me. Maybe it was because I have often said that eating out was my love language (my deeper confession is that I’m not too fond of cooking). Part of me didn’t like being controlled by a child who didn’t even know how to walk yet, and part of me wanted to raise my glass and toast to equip our children to not only have the character to be able to enter all places, but to be a JOY! I went home that night, determined to do just that. We would go out in public, and I used it as an intentional training ground to equip our baby twins, soon-to-be-four children under four years of age, how to have self-control, honor, and respect. Years later, I am still reaping the fruit. I saw a need to equip hungry parents in the ways of Kingdom parenting, specifically as it pertains to healthy character building that models the heart of the Father, the original parent! Character firmly plants a child to bear good fruit. Your home will be one of honor, respect, and peace when character is at the foundation. Enjoy the journey of equipping your children to bear good fruit.

PEACEFUL HOMES

I want to encourage you to make a small yet significant shift in your parenting. First, switch your focus from trying to rid them of conflict to growing them to avoid the conflict. There is a radical difference between the two. Move from being a constant referee to being their teacher to set them up for success. Second, we cannot help someone if we first do not know what the issue is. The next time they are in conflict, instead of reacting, stop for a moment and watch what is going on. It is not about who has what toy, but rather issues of selfishness, impatience, lack of self-control, rudeness, etc. – pinpointing where your child needs to grow and mature is vital to helping them. Third, teach them what you want in times of peace. The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17), and it is okay to teach and equip our children with the tools of JOY. Make it fun, be creative, and partner with joy in your parenting. Training in the times of peace will give you tools to use in the moments of conflict. Teaching during conflict has proven to be far less effective. Fourth, children are creative. You could tell them ‘NO’ all day long, and they will still come up with another creative way to do something. Focus 90% of your parenting on teaching and training in the times of peace what you DO want. Role-play what selfishness looks like at the table, in the car, with toys, and then model for them what you DO want from them during those situations. This empowers them with how to succeed. 

BREAKING THEIR WILL

I know this post will shock a few of you, but I will say it anyway. Our parenting style should not reflect breaking a child’s spirit, but we should be breaking their will. Breaking one’s spirit uses tools like anger, intimidation, control, fear, dominance, rage, and projecting our wounded places onto our children. This screams at the child that who they are is not okay and teaches them they have to alter their true selves to please them and keep the peace. We have all experienced and used these tools on others. We know it by the bad fruit it produces and how it makes our hearts feel. Breaking one’s will is totally different and uses tools like empowerment, authority, discipline, being firm, encouragement, consequences, and allowing others to feel uncomfortable. This communicates to the child that they are believed in and called to a higher standard of living. It teaches them that you love and care about them enough not to leave them in their current state. It champions them into becoming all God has called them to be and gives them room to increase their capacity. I do not want to shut my child down and break their spirit. But I DO want to break their will. I encourage you not to see the following verses through the lens of disciplining harshly but rather through the eyes of a loving Shepherd that uses His rod to train, correct, and guide his sheep to keep them safe.

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24).

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:12).

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, walk along the road, lie down, and get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

“A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire” (Proverbs 29:17).

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).

POOL JOY

We were enjoying a day at the swimming pool. Hudson asked for a sip of my pop, and I felt led to lavish him with the whole thing. Lauren came over and robbed him of his joy by being bossy, controlling, and ‘self-focused.’ I decided to treat the girls to one, too (it is a treat and not something I usually do). I gave it to Lauren to share, but she was being mean-spirited and controlling about it with her sisters, too. I called her over and pointed it out to her. She was frustrated with herself for being like that but didn’t know why. We asked Jesus to shine His flashlight in her heart and show us what was going on. She began to cry and say that the other girls would move away from her whenever she joined them. Bingo! Hurts, lies, offense. She was hurt and offended that her sisters were working on a skit together and were not including her. I explained that she was partnering with control and meanness to make herself feel better and listening to the lie that she couldn’t be weak and show tears (something she struggles with) and that in doing so, she was releasing the wrong kingdom. I asked if that was what she wanted (because she does have a free will, and I would rather parent with her will than try to control her against it). She didn’t want that and agreed to let her sisters know how she felt. She learned that it is safe in God’s Kingdom to show tears and weaknesses, which she revealed to her sisters. I declared over them that they were powerful and incredible world-changers who could devise a plan to resolve the conflict and then left them to figure it out, and the joy returned! Can you see how spanking, time outs, removing the treat, etc., would not have even come close to addressing the real issue of her hurt heart?