FULLY AND COMPLETELY

FULLY AND COMPLETELY

When I would tell the four kids to do something, they would obey right away, but only partially. So, I would call them back, and they would obey right away again, but still not finish. I was asking them FOUR times to complete the dishwasher, FIVE times to clean the bathroom all the way, THREE times for the floor, and I was about to go mad! I realized it was an issue of taking responsibility, so I asked Holy Spirit for a creative teaching tool. Ha! Do you know one of the names of Holy Spirit? TEACHER! He rocks at teaching the kids and loves to do it in a fun way. I called all the kids back and gave them a piece of paper to wad up. I then told them they had to put the paper in the bathroom (the furthest room from the living room). They were all like, “Okay, easy peasy.” Then I said, “But… you can only drop it, stoop down to get it, stand up, drop it again, stoop down to get it, stand up, drop it…” It was super funny about four times, but after that, they wanted to cry. They were clueless about why they were doing this; it was NOT fun. I called them all back into the living room and explained that that is how I feel when I ask them to do something and then have to call them back again and again to finish it. When they are instructed to do something, they must stick with it until it is done fully and completely.

PLAYDATES ARE YOUR TRAINING GROUND

Toddlers are not socially aware of cultivating meaningful friendships, but this is a rich season where parents can go after character training so that children are set up for success with peers down the road. I would often set up a playdate with another mom with the intention of paying close attention to how my children interacted with their peers. Did they hit when they didn’t get what they wanted? Did they yank the toy out of someone’s hands? Did they wait patiently when wanting something? Did they interrupt me using the hand technique? Were they a joy to be around? Are they the type of children others would want to invite back or were happy to have us leave? Did they say “Thank you” when given something? OF COURSE, they did not ace all of these areas. They were toddlers full of fleshly desires and selfishness. My goal was never perfection but rather seeing where I needed to parent them. I would take a mental inventory of the areas they needed to grow in, and we would spend the week working on it. I would set up another playdate and test it out. Example: If I saw my child hit another child because they wanted what they wanted when they wanted it. I would address it on the spot, but when we got home, I would teach them how to handle that situation differently in times of peace. We would role-play, I would tell them what I expected (no, no hit), and we would look for ways at home they could apply that teaching with their siblings. I was intentionally teaching them how to be better friends. The heart of this cannot be legalism or performance. Children are going to be foolish, act out, throw fits and be selfish. There has to be grace for their development. But I was always on the lookout for ways they could increase their capacity in an area and go after it through connection and joy. 90% of my parenting in the toddler years was going after things in the time of peace and setting them up for success instead of constantly reacting to their negative behavior. Some of the main focus points for toddlers are: learning to wait patiently for something that they want, saying “please and thank you,” understanding right/wrong, knowing sowing/reaping (consequences), using manners (kind words), and using their words (not strength), respecting the word NO, listening and obeying right away, practicing gentleness, having self-control, and being content by themselves at times.

**My eBooklet Character Counts gives you oodles of creative activities to do with young children to instill character. You do not have to do this all in one day but rather have a mental awareness that between today and the time they enter formal school, they should have the character to play well with their peers. Order your copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

HIS KINGDOM

The Kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, yet one of the biggest reasons why Sunday school leaders have a hard time finding volunteers is because adults are uncomfortable with JOY. Teach parents how to be restored to joy, and they will be drawn to those who carry child-like joy!

GOING AFTER IDENTITY

I am going to give you some great exercises to do with your children to go after IDENTITY.

Truth Notes – I often get a fun package of sticky notes (fun shapes, cool colors, cute animals) and then write words of truth to each child and stick them in their underwear drawer, between their folded shirts, in their lunch box, on the mirror, in their shoes – the ideas are endless. If they have a test, I will write, “You can do this!” and place it in their book or “Remember, you are never alone,” in their lunch bag. If my kids spend the night elsewhere or when they go to camp, they are armed with TRUTH notes from mom!

The Real You – When your child is feeling bad, believing a lie about themselves or just need some love, ask them, “What does Jesus say about you?” We cannot teach our children enough about the truth of their identity and what God says about them. The rest of their lives, they will get messages from others – their boss, friends, magazines, movies, and even unintentionally from us as parents – that communicate that they aren’t good enough or worthy. Taking the time in moments of peace to speak the truth will profit your child’s ability to become spiritually strong and fit for the long haul.

Who Am I? – Take an index card and write words that fit your child: “smart”, “loving”, “kind”, “secure”, “special”, etc. Wrap up that card inside tissue paper and place it deep within a gift bag (or brown paper bag). Do this before you bring it to the children. Now have a stack of Kleenex or tissue paper, and one by one as you wad it up call out lies: “stupid”, “mean”, “ugly”, “useless”, etc. As you call out each lie, place the wad in the bag. Do 8-10 lies/wads of paper. It’s okay to get crazy and have fun with this (they don’t know what’s coming, and the more they participate, the better the ah-ha moment will be). One mom taped a chocolate kiss to the index card to give them a visual of how sweet the treasure is inside of us. Explain to the child that the gift bag represents the heart that is in each person on earth. Remind them of the mean lies that were deposited into that heart. If a person hears that they are ugly, mean, unwanted, gross, etc., ask them how they think that person will act. Keep going until they take out each lie one-by-one until they get to the truth card. Ask them to open it up and read the card. Explain that each person on earth has something of value written on their heart FROM GOD, who made them. We are to go around FINDING that nugget of gold in each person. When they walk by someone at Wal-Mart and say, “You have beautiful eyes,” they are calling out the TRUTH about that person. When they speak life over someone, they are calling out the good!

Celebrate – I look for ways I celebrate their identity. My son was going through the highs and lows of being a teenager and frankly some days he baffles my mind. Since I am aware the changes are actually about him becoming a man, I will often go to him and put my hand on his heart and just say, “I bless your journey into manhood.” I am always calling out WHO my children are. We can’t put the entire focus on WHAT they do, or we will be teaching them that approval is attached to performance, but we can call out WHO they are despite what they do.

Tiny Baby – Go to a craft store and in the baby shower section, you will find a package of really tiny babies (to be used for games and on cupcakes). Place the baby in the palm of your hand and just focus on it for a moment. This is a great visual for children (and you!) of how big the Father’s hands are. No matter what we are going through, Papa is always bigger. He’s got us and we are safe and secure.

White Heart – Take a piece of paper and draw a huge heart. Spend some time being quiet before the Lord and then ask Him to show you what HE has written on the heart of your child (do this separately for each child). What are the passions, dreams, desires, and strengths HE has put deep inside of them? Write down whatever you hear and then deliberately partner with God to call that out in them.

Hello, My Name Is… – Go to the store and get a label/sticker and write things like “loving”, “kind”, “helpful”, “worthy”, etc. on it. Throughout the day, call out your child’s identity and remind them who they are. Ask Holy Spirit to make your ears sensitive to hear when your children call out a lie about themselves. Things like, “I am not good at this”, “I can’t”, “I am not smart”, “I am stupid”, “No one cares”, and show them their name tag and ask, “Is that who you are?” Show them it is a LIE from the enemy, and they can easily toss that lie out. It is so important that children get practice in hearing GOD’S words about them and learn how to toss out the lies. They will use this tool for the rest of their lives!

Treasure Box – Get a small box or wooden treasure box and place a mirror on the inside. Really build it up and tell them that inside this box is what God treasures the most, what He sent His son to die for, what makes Him smile the biggest, and what He is most passionate about – then have them slowly open the box and see for themselves. For Christmas one year, I did this and wrapped the kids a mirror with a ribbon super glued for the hook. We hang them on the tree every year as a reminder that we are the gifts God enjoys the most.

“Identity” is a very big word rich in meaning. This is just a tiny sampling of what we can teach our children about identity, but the most important thing is that they realize that there are two opposing views – what God says about us and the lies the enemy whispers. We need to choose which one we will believe and which one we will kick out the door.

Don’t feel pressured to do these exercises all at once. Instead, be committed to being intentional about teaching your kids what God says about them throughout your journey. 

HeartWork 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 consistently called out the truth about who you are? What kind of parent do you want your children to have?

GODHEAD PARENTING

Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), it changes the way, you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the reality of who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit really are. There have been times when I have not modeled it well and have responded harshly or with impatience. When I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or impatient with you, and I am sorry that I treated you that way.” One of the most helpful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is, “Do you know God will never leave you?” or to the child being bullied, “Jesus would never treat you like that.” Humans fall short, but God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit do not.

THAT’S A LIE

Fearing we will harm our children if we cause their discomfort can actually harm them more!

LET’S ASK JESUS

Be still for a moment and ask, “Jesus, will You please show me a picture of what makes Your heart happy?”

Gather as a family in the living room, in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime, and ask Jesus together. This is so empowering for children because they get to witness how God communicates with you, which increases their faith, and together you get to encounter Him. Spiritual healing is a muscle that is strengthened by worshiping and praying. The more you do it, the stronger you become at it.

GOD IS WITH US

Every child should be equipped and armed with the reality that God is always with us.

SELF-CONTROL

If you do not teach and train your child what it looks like to control themselves when they are younger, they will have a much harder time when they are older. There is something God built into toddlers that makes the training process of learning self-control EASIER (and perhaps a little less painful) than when they are older. Parents, it is an act of LOVE to teach your child how to learn to control themselves. Want to learn HOW? We have created this downloadable parenting magazine with oodles of ways to implement character training with your little ones.

Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

EASTER STORY

I was asked to put on an Easter event at our church long before I had my own children. We wrote out a little booklet telling the Easter story and had the kids find a colored egg that went with the page of the story. They had to open the egg and see how the object inside correlated with the story. We hosted over 1,000 families that day, which was a huge hit. I have since hosted many Easter parties telling children of the GOOD NEWS.

May your family enjoy this interactive story of our RISEN KING! Gather the following items, put them in a designated colored egg, and hide them around the house (I have added some additional suggestions that you may have on hand). The child has to find that colored egg, bring it to you to read the Scripture relating to that part of the Easter story.

EASTER STORY PIECES:

Light green – Palm branch (small leaf, pine tree branch).

Dark Pink – Communion cup (insert note inside that says ‘see table’ and put grape juice on the table). 

Dark orange – Nickel.

Light Blue – Crown (twig, rose thorn).

Light purple – Dice.

Dark blue – Nail. 

Light yellow – something black (felt, construction paper, or drawing with a black marker). 

Dark green – Gauze (cotton ball, cloth). 

Light Orange – Stone (rock). 

Dark Yellow – Empty.

Light pink – Keys (car/house key).

Dark purple – Cross.

RELEASE & REST

Rest is not being inactive. Rest is the position of our heart after we have released something over to God and left it in His care. We cease taking matters into our own hands and operating in self-sufficiency. We hand over the transaction to Him, and at that moment, we are in restful confidence He can act on our behalf. We rest in the assurance that He is able, capable, mighty, willing, powerful, and active in our lives. Simply put, spiritual orphans can NOT find rest because the world’s weight is on them to self-provide, self-protect, self-defend, and self-secure. But as Sons and Daughters, we have a Father who is alive and well and wants to help us. Have you ever sat on an aircraft and watched people attempt to put their luggage in the overhead compartment? They struggle to lift the weight of their carry-on above their head while juggling their coffee, trying hard not to hit the person in front of them. Along comes a flight attendant in full confidence in their ability to help lighten the load and get them situated. Have you ever watched a child struggle to tie their shoes or fasten their pant button? They get frustrated easily with their lack of ability. A loving parent comes alongside them and, with ease, eagerly helps them. The Father is like the flight attendant wanting to carry your load. The Father is like a loving parent wanting to help in your time of need. Rest is not simply doing nothing. Rest is releasing your burdens for Him to do something. 

HeartWork – “Jesus, I surrender and hand to You my burden of _____.”