To teach your child about the powerful use of their tongue, go to a thrift store and buy a fancy but cheap plate. Spread out a sheet/blanket outside and as you raise that plate to the air and proceed to smash it to the ground, call out the words you hear your child speak. “I hate you,” “Leave me alone,” “You are stupid,” “I don’t like you,” “I don’t want to be your friend,” and then sincerely say, “Oh whoops, sorry!” and ask them to put the pieces back together again. They will be dumbfounded as they know it won’t be able to go back together again. Explain that our words can shatter a person’s identity and worth (it actually doesn’t change their worth, but one’s ability to receive and believe it). Even when we say sorry, the damage is already done.
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
Once you know a child’s love language, you learn how to fill their hearts easily. I could spend my last dollar on a child, but if their love language is quality time, it won’t hit their heart as much as the child with the love language of gifts. I could spend every waking moment with a child, but if their love language is words of affirmation, they will still feel empty/low after spending all that time together. I could smear my child with endless praises, kisses, and words, but if their love language is acts of service, they will wonder why I don’t love them enough to help them. If you want to hit a bullseye into their heart, LEARN your child’s love language and go after it daily.
I homeschooled the kid’s elementary years, so I was used to being their ‘school teacher’ in the classroom setting, but it was years into homeschooling when I realized that one of my primary roles as a mother was to be a teacher. As they were getting older, the tones and attitudes in their speech started to really wear on me. It was not what they were saying but how they were saying it. As I was praying about it, Proverbs 16:24 came to mind, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” I suddenly got this idea to cash in on the science lesson I had just taught on senses. I told them to meet me in the kitchen and blindfolded them. I asked them to stick out their tongue and I put a small dab of horseradish on it. They yelped and moaned. We tried it again, but this time I put honey on their tongue. Yum. That was much better. I shared the verse with them and talked about how sometimes their words sounded like horseradish, but that God wants us to use words and tones that are like honey. We role-played what that sounded like when someone took their toy, when they wanted something, or were asked to do something. I pretended to be them and modeled what kind and sweet tones looked like, and then I molded what horseradish sounded like. They thought it was funny, and we all laughed.
Here is what I want you to see. I was good at teaching science and math, but when it came to teaching principles of the heart to train and equip them, I felt shy and ill-equipped. I was so tired of their tones and needed to do something, but honestly, after the teaching, I remember feeling like it was flat, not deep enough, and I doubted they would retain any of it. I felt awkward and so unsure of myself that it was making a difference. My delivery felt skinny and weak. As the days went on, I would come to them, get down on their level and say, “Remember when I put that stuff on your tongue? How do you think you just sounded?” They had to stop and think and redirect their choice of speech. I began to get the revelation that they were not mini adults and did not need the 12-week course or 2-hour lecture on a subject. They understood me fully, and I had their hearts because I was teaching them through connection and releasing joy through the science experiment. They got it, and I grew in understanding that if I just show up and teach them, they will respond. To this day, with tweens and teenagers, all I have to say is, “That doesn’t sound like honey to me,” and they know immediately their tone was off.
Like it or not, if you are a parent, you ARE a teacher. It might not be of other children or in the classroom, but you are, by God’s design, a teacher of your own children. The more you embrace this part of parenting, the easier life will be for both you and your child. I encourage you to say this out loud a couple of times until it really sinks deep. “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” “I AM a teacher. I proactively teach my child in times of peace how to succeed in life.” Have you received the revelation that to be a parent means to be a TEACHER?
It is hard to know who you are when you spend the majority of the time staring at a lens with your own reflection. We only truly discover who we are when we gaze into the One who created us in His image. Selfies only reflect what you want to see. God’s image reflects who we were made to become.
I passionately believe siblings are God’s built-in training ground to raise up successful adults who know how to deal with people, love those who are different and reap the fruit of deep connection and community.
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
Many stores have cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes in their dollar section. Pick one up for each child, and instead of using them for V-day, use them to fill their tanks all year long. I would often encourage the kids to write notes of praise, thanks, or encouragement and have them secretly put them in their sibling’s mailboxes. It taught them how to be proactive in speaking love to someone and how good it feels to receive.
I would keep them and pull them back out again in the summer or fall when they need some help going after filling each other’s tanks. A great thing to bring on vacation or do during school breaks.
We were on the road, and I woke early like I usually do, so I snuck out to get some coffee. It was still dark out, and I enjoyed the quiet moment to myself. This profound wave of deep joy and gratefulness came over me (like you feel on Christmas morning), and I began to ponder what TODAY has meant in my life. Yesterday was BRUTAL. It was the day my Savior was beaten and whipped for my sins. As I tell the kids, He took their spanking. It is hard to picture my Jesus nailed to a cross with spikes piercing His hands and feet. Tomorrow is full of JOY. Death is defeated. He IS alive! But TODAY is the day Jesus was in hell. From death to resurrection, He spent His time in hell. Doing what? Gathering ALL of the keys that the enemy stole. He has a key for your relationships, finances, decisions, parenting, attitudes, transitions, desires, conflicts, dreams, problems, heartbreak, and destiny. There isn’t a single thing you are walking through that Christ doesn’t hold the key to. He died naked but rose with the keys – ALL of them.
Teach your children they are never without a solution to their problems. No matter how big or small, Jesus has a KEY for it! When your child is struggling with something together, ask, “Jesus, what is the name of the KEY You want me to use in this situation?” You might be surprised how easy yet powerful the keys unlock your situation. Matthew 16:19.
A few years back, we took a mini trip down to Sacramento to recharge as a family and do some shopping. I got the idea to stop at the $1 store and have the kids pick out a pack of sticky notes. They didn’t know why but when we got in the car, I told them to think of people they love (family, friends, teachers) and to think of things they might want to hear. Things like: “You are loved,” “You are powerful,” “You are seen,” “There is hope,” “It is going to be okay,” etc. For part of the drive down, they wrote those words on a sticky note. When we parked in the first parking lot, I told them to run around and put the sticky notes on the driver’s side window of the parked cars. They had a blast and giggled the entire time. When they were done, I assumed we would go shopping, but they asked to sit in the car and spy on the people coming out and seeing their notes. We saw smiles, sighs, and even tears as people read these TRUTH BOMBS!
Go on a mission to teach your children what it looks like to love others.
What declarations are you making today? “I am afraid something bad will happen, and I won’t be able to keep my kids safe.” “This is the worst thing ever; we will never recover.” “This is terrible!” OR “God is in control.” “Jesus is alive.” “I am a child of God.” “He loves me and has my back.” “Fear is not from Him.” “I will know what to do because He lives inside of me.” “He gives me peace and rests in the storm.” “I trust His-story.” “I am loved.” “My emotions matter but do not lead me.” “I don’t know how God is going to work this out, but He always does.”
So be intentional about writing out three declarations and put them up on your mirror, in the car, and on your phone, and recite them often today. We become what we focus on and want to be anchored to the TRUTH (not facts).
Your child needs to know not only their own language but their siblings’. When a child is aware of their needs, it makes it a lot easier for them to get their need met in a healthy way. Say their language is quality time, and yet they haven’t invested any time in their family; they are going to feel disconnected. Love tanks aren’t something to just passively let others fill. We can intentionally put ourselves on the path to be filled up. They can be doing things that encourage their needs to be met. Many times when there is conflict in my home, it is because their tanks are low with each other. While it would be so much easier to just separate the two ‘offending siblings,’ what they REALLY need is connection. When I see this is an issue, I will ask the child what their brother’s love language is and ask what she can do to fill it and vice versa. The older they get, the more I solve sibling issues this way than anything else. Disconnected kids act out like kids starving for attention!