HONEY VS. HORSERADISH

HONEY VS. HORSERADISH

Do a teaching with your children on our mouth and taste buds. Explain that our tongue tastes things that are bitter and sweet. Next, blindfold the children and lead them into the kitchen for a science experiment. Place a tiny dab of horseradish on their tongues and ask them what they think and then place a drop of honey on their tongues. They will probably beg for more. Share with them Proverbs 16:24 and discuss how our words need to be like sweet honey, not bitter horseradish. Practice role-playing some scenarios: What would words full of honey sound like when someone takes your toy? Is in your space? Has hurt you? How can you use words of honey to encourage others? Show honor to your parents and teachers? The goal is not the absence of negative feelings or reactions but to respond in love despite being upset or hurt. You can also take the opportunity to teach them how to be intentionally ‘sweet’ with their words as opportunities arise to bless others. In the days ahead, when you hear harsh tones and unloving words, call out, “Oh, that sounds like horseradish to my ears!” When you hear them speaking kindly, you can say, “Oh, I love the honey coming out of your mouth!”

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

GET UP AND FIGHT – AUTHORITY

God has given us authority over anything that is out of alignment with the heavens, such as fear, strife, unbelief, anger, anxiety, or doubt. If it is not in heaven, you have authority over it. Rise up, speak to the anger, fear, and unbelief, and say, “NO MORE.” Break up with those nagging thoughts that are like flies swarming around us when we are worn out, tired, or weary. You don’t have to put up with them – deal with them. My bathroom mirror reads, “Stop the nonsense,” meaning I do not cross the mental line and partner with those words. I live by faith, not circumstances.

TRAINING GROUND

Sibling conflict is God’s training ground. Use it for their good.

USHERING CHILDREN INTO ENCOUNTERS

Do children need to be believers to play in the Kingdom or do they play in the Kingdom to choose Him? I think it is both. When did God speak the loudest to Saul (Paul)?  When He was Jesus’ enemy #1. When did Jesus invite Matthew?  When he was full of greed. When did Jesus welcome the man on the cross?  When he was destined to hell. God’s most profound act of love was a free gift to those who didn’t know Him. Oh, yes, He cares for those who do not yet know Him. God speaks and interacts with unbelievers. And in doing so, it provides an encounter with the One who is worthy of it all. Encounters become the gateway in which many realize He is the One and make the choice to follow Him. This is a glorious, beautiful event because it becomes their testimony which no man can argue or deny. Our goal as parents should be to seek to provide our children with encounters with Him and the joy of playing in His Kingdom so that they experience Him. Head knowledge is religion where encounters are relationship.

Some ways to usher our children into an encounter could include: showing them a Scripture of how much Jesus cares about them (not just to correct their behavior), asking Jesus questions that pertain to their world, heart and cares, inviting Jesus into their pain, taking them to church, allowing them to stay with you during worship, sharing with them what He showed you during your quiet time, telling your own God stories, letting them dance at home with worship music, soaking (simply sitting/lying quietly generally with music on to feel His peace), asking God to help them with something (and then helping them see how He responded).

When my children were little, I had a sign on the wall that said, “Dear Jesus, thank You for ______. Would You please help me with ______”. Each day they would pray filling in the blanks. I was modeling for them how to be thankful and come to Jesus with what was important to their heart. At the end of the day, we would play the High/Low game where they would share what was the high and low of their day. Their highs would almost always reflect the very thing they asked Jesus for. One day my daughter asked Jesus to help her get a sweet treat. It felt rather insignificant to me, but hours later we were at a store, and a clerk said she made one too many ice cream cones and offered it to my daughter. I immediately reminded her of her prayer that morning. I saw my role as a dot connector. Teaching them to pray, then helping them see the way God was responding and speaking to them. Their faith grew each time leaving them hungry for more. We were building their stories with Him long before any of them made a personal decision to follow Him.

STRONG-WILLED CHILD

How do you tell a strong-willed two-year-old no? Just like that, “NO.” When Lauren was still in her highchair, she would throw her Cheerios on the floor and then laugh watching me pick it up. She thought it was a game. How many of you know that getting mad at a clueless child is completely ineffective in creating change? If the behavior does not bring honor, respect, or peace, then I need to parent (verb) her in that area to HELP HER know what is and is not acceptable. Do I want her to go to a friend’s house and do that? Is it cute to throw food on the floor when she is four? This has little to do with food and everything to do with self-control and respect. I said in a loving, but firm tone, “Lauren, no-no throwing food on the floor.” If she did it again, I would repeat myself but squeeze her hand. It was done in an effort to get her attention, not create punishment or pain. No means no, and she is learning she does not have the freedom to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. She did it again, and I realized she needed more help. I cleaned up breakfast and then moved her booster seat to the floor and asked her to sit in it. I connected with her by laughing. I was not scolding, punishing, or upset with her. I was teaching a toddler how to be successful at the table. I put a Cheerio on her tray and role-played me picking it up and throwing it on the floor pretending to be her, but then said in a loving but firm tone, “No-no throwing food on the floor,” and I got her out of the booster and told her to pick it up. When she did, I praised her silly with a hug and positive reinforcement. The next time I sat her in the highchair, I said in a firm but loving tone, “No-no food on the floor” as a reminder and put a small amount of food on her tray. She decided to test how serious I was, so I immediately took off her tray, got her down and lovingly, but firmly told her to hand me the Cheerios. It only took two times for her to realize it is SO NOT FUN having to get down and pick them up. Before she had no concept of the reality of someone having to pick them up, but she learned and never did it again. 

YELLING

Yes, there is a better way to parent our children than yelling but you do not need more of God so that you stop yelling. You need more of God so that He can comfort and heal those places in your heart so that you do not need to yell anymore. 

SCREEN SAFETY

Protecting our children from online activity is an important part of raising kids today. There is a calculated and intentional mission to seduce and desensitize children. It is crafty in the way it entices a child. It can also happen by pure innocence. A child confesses to their mom that something really bad popped up on their screen. Mom checks it out and deals with the issue with the child. Mom knows it can’t be there unless something else was clicked on, and Mom discovers in the history that said child got really cold at night, so they typed in “how to be hot in bed”, seeking answers and solutions to her temperature issue. Well, let’s just say she got what she asked for in today’s world. It’s funny, but it’s also a sad and true testimony. Stay ALERT! Know what they are doing on their computers, check them often, keep connection strong and check in!

COVER THEM IN PEACE

Give them the gift of peace. Soaking means to be saturated in His presence and nothing else (that means no to-do list, worrying, striving, or doing – just being).  

I’M NOT ASHAMED

One year I showed my children the movie I’m Not Ashamed. I wanted them to see an example of a young teen walking out her love for Jesus in the midst of challenges. Her life became a legacy all too early, but I had no idea how the movie would plant seeds so deep in one of my daughters. She talks about the movie often and how her heart longs to love Jesus with no shame, regret, or fear of man.

I recommend watching this movie together and having a conversation. I’m Not Ashamed – Trailer – YouTube. 

I’M NOT ASHAMED is the inspiring and powerful true story of Rachel Joy Scott – the first student killed in the Columbine high school shooting in 1999. Devout teen Rachel Joy Scott (Masey McLain) shows compassion and love for her fellow students until armed classmates enter Columbine High School on a fateful day that changed America forever.

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