Don’t Give Your Kid’s Chores

But I’m against giving your kids chores.  The whole word “chores” just sounds awful. On the other hand, “work” was given to man as a blessing.  It was established before sin came into the world. 

Don't Give Your Kids ChoresI know…it’s a crazy idea.  But I’m against giving your kids chores.  The whole word “chores” just sounds awful.

On the other hand, “work” was given to man as a blessing.  It was established before sin came into the world.  In Gen. 2:15 it says, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  Prior to the fall, man was created to tend and nurture the ground.  Now sin brought with it thorns, which made work hard.  In Gen. 3:17-18 shows that because of sin the ground is cursed with thorns and thistles and by the sweat of our face we shall eat.

You see, it’s good for our souls to work…to cultivate…to nurture.  There are a number of prisons in America now that have prisoners planting and tending gardens to produce their own food and also raising future guide dogs for the blind.  What authorities have found is that these hardened criminals begin to change when they have something to nurture.

God gave man a domain called Eden.  Adam was to cultivate and keep it.  One of the definitions of cultivate is “to promote and improve the growth of by labor and attention.”  And here’s one of the definitions of keep “to hold or retain in one’s possession; hold as one’s own.”

Work is a gift from God.  It gives us purpose and can define our gifts and talents.  We add value to the world because of our work.

When my son was six and my daughter was four years old, I was at the Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA.  We were having a beach day with a few other kids and moms.  We told the kids they could have two rides each and then we were going to go home.  All of the kids rallied together and began to demand a day-long wristband.  We immediately whisked the kids away into the cars.  I told my children that if they wanted a day-long wristband that they could work for it.  (I’m not saying that buying children a day-long wristband to an amusement park is a bad thing.  It was the attitude of demand that I was addressing.)  The next day we made chocolate chip cookies and put 4 to a plate.  I sent them down the road with a little red wagon (and me in tow) to go door-to-door selling their cookies for $1 per plate.  Of course, they were so adorable nobody could say no.  They soon had their $20 each to purchase their day-long wristband.  What really surprised me was a comment my son said on the way to the Beach Boardwalk the next week.  He was looking out the side window and not really speaking to anyone in particular and said, “I am soooo proud of myself.”   I thought to myself that I could have taken away a sense of accomplishment and created entitlement by handing him a twenty-dollar bill.

Now, please hear me.  As parents, we can go too far on this pendulum and make them work for everything.  This can have a damaging effect as well.  It is good to sometimes give your children good gifts.  And at six and four years old, I didn’t get into deducting the cost of all of the ingredients or talking to them about taking taxes out of their profits.  We need to gauge where our children’s hearts are at and talk to them about the goodness of working.

But, of course, as with everything else, it starts with our attitude about work.  Do you speak about the dread of going to your job?  Or do you look at your work as a place to cultivate it to make it the best it can be? Do you look at your home as a domain to nurture and care for?

Don’t just give your kids tasks to do so you don’t have to do them and don’t make working a miserable experience for them.  Give them a sense of dominion or ownership.  Help them to cultivate their rooms and help them to see beyond the task to the greater purpose.  Also, talk to them about your sense of purpose in your work.  (And if you struggle here, it’s a good time to make a few changes in your own life.)

I love Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

 

 

Words That Change Reality

I want to encourage you to think of your words as a commodity to be spent and invested wisely.

Words RealityToday, I’d like to remind us (myself included) that words matter.

Prov. 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Over and over, Scripture warns and encourages us regarding the power of words.  

There is a linguistic theory called The Speech-Act Theory, which says that words not only have a surface meaning, they also have an intended meaning, which in turn, have an effect on the world.

This theory is used in hermeneutics (how to interpret God’s word) because it understands that God not only has said something in His Word, He had an intended meaning, which was meant to have an effect in the world.  Since we are made in His image, our words also have an intended meaning, which will affect our world. In other words, our words change reality.

I’d like to look at several Scripture references which show us the power of the tongue.

Creation

In Gen. 1:1 it says, “And God said” and creation happened.

He created the worlds by speaking! He brought order out of chaos.  Now, think about this…we are made in His image. What do we create with our words!  Chaos? Conflict? Peace? Rest?

Confession

Rom. 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Confessing with our words has huge impact on reality.  I can be saved!!! I can be healed!! I can be forgiven and cleansed!  How amazing is that!

Promise & Vows

Psalm 89: 34 “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.”

Duet. 23: 21-23 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. “However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.”

James 5:2 “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”

When God makes promises we can be assured it will come to pass.  The world will be different because of a promise. I then wonder, what happens in the spiritual realm when I make a promise?  Or when I break a promise? It seems we are warned to be very careful with our words when it comes to promises and vows (and it’s different than a yes or a no), because they have implication that it changes something in the spiritual realm.   

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

When we forgive, something changes whereby God can then forgive me!  The reality of my own bondage is broken.

Truth

John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Speaking the truth brings freedom.  If you feel in bondage, Scripture says we break free by speaking the truth about it.

Blessing

Gen. 1:22 God blessed them, saying (with words), “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

1 Peter 3:8-9 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

We see many accounts of blessings in Genesis: Abraham blessed Isaac, Isaac blessed Jacob, Jacob blessed his twelve sons including Ephraim before Manasseh. And we see multiple accounts of God blessing Abraham’s descendants.  We see Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing, showing it’s a thing that can be stolen and it’s a thing to be inherited.

A blessing calls out good and impacts the trajectory of an heir.  We are called to give a blessing even to those who are evil to us so that we also might inherit a blessing. Sweet!   Our words of blessing have impact and changes the world around us.

Prayer

Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

Can prayer really keep us from even being tempted?  Can we find healing through prayer? Of course, prayer always changes things, even if it just gives me peace.  But there are millions and millions of stories of God interceding because of prayer.

Encouragement

Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

It seems here that encouragement helps keep us from a hardened heart.  That’s pretty important!

Warnings

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

We are warned here that judgments, condemnation as well as pardon all have a boomerang effect.  They have an impact on us. These are not just emotions that sit inside of us. These emotions come out in everything we do including our expressions, actions, and words.  Words of judgement and condemnation also have impact on the world.

We also see in many parts of Scripture huge warnings to be careful with our speech.

Ecc. 10:12 “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him.”

Matthew 12:35-37 “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Eph. 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

Eph. 5:4 “and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Col. 3:8 “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.”

This is a short list of the many, many times in Scripture we are warned to watch our speech because it has incredible impact on our world.  And it has incredible impact on us! We are not called to shaming, condemnation, or ridicule. This does not exhibit the heart of God. Our words matter.

I’m going to stop here because this is a blog post and not a book. But I could go on with what the Bible tells us about grumbling, disputing, empty chatter, worship/singing, wisdom, teaching, preaching, thanksgiving, and the Word of Life.

Walk by Grace

My friends, I want to encourage you to think of your words as a commodity to be spent and invested wisely.  Words of derision, mockery, contempt, ridicule, judgement, and shame will all take away from this world. Words of truth, blessing, forgiveness, love, and prayers will bring the Kingdom of God crashing into earth!  Because they have impact on the world, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col. 4:8)

 

Calling Children Up

Calling them up means to believe in their capabilities.

Calling Children Up
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm 

When my daughter was an infant she sucked her thumb non-stop.  I had been told this would be a difficult thing to help her to overcome.  Many parents had gone before us and battled this with much frustration.

My husband, in a stroke of brilliance, sat down with her and said, “Michelle, you are now two years old.  You are a big girl and big girls don’t suck their thumbs. That’s for babies. You are no longer a baby, so as a big girl we’d like you to stop sucking your thumb.  Can you do that?”

Now, I must confess, I was standing behind them and I rolled my eyes.  I did. I did not believe. I thought, “oh, so you’re just going to ask this two-year old, who has been sucking her thumb since day one, to just stop.  HA!”

Guess what?  I never saw her suck her thumb again.  Not during the day. Not during the night.  Not in times of high stress. Not once.

Now, this is NOT an article on how to get your kids to stop sucking their thumbs.  I really don’t think this would work on every child. It may not work on ANY other child…ever!  But I did learn something that day. I learned that most children want to grow up; little kids want to be big kids, big kids want to be teens, teens want to be adults.  So, as parents, we can use that to our advantage.

Responsibility Leads to Privilege

One of the best things parents can do is to tie privilege to responsibility.  Rewards should be tied to responsibility and/or skilled growth, not behavior. For instance, a child can be given the reward of an hour of television because their room is cleaned and homework done, not because they didn’t throw a temper tantrum at the store.  When rewards are given for behavior, they learn quickly how to blackmail you…it’s kind of human nature.

When rewards are tied to responsibility it means you can often say yes to their request. When a child asks, “can I watch t.v.”, a parent can say, “yes, as soon as your bedroom is cleaned.”  My daughter asked, “Mom, can I have a car?” I said, “Yes, as soon as you can afford it” (hoping it would buy us another 6+ months of driving maturity.)

So often, I found that when I didn’t tie it to responsibility it was because it was convenient for me.  I either didn’t want to deal with getting them to take responsibility or I wanted the convenience of just giving them something.   

Behavior

Good behavior should somewhat be expected.  So if they throw a temper tantrum or stomp out of the room, this is a violation of relationship and the relationship needs to be repaired through owning behavior, confession, and making amends.  To offer a reward or privilege for them to not misbehave means they get to up the ante whenever they want something.

However, one way you can tie behavior with privilege is through the loss of privilege if they don’t behave instead of telling them they are being a ‘bad boy.’  For instance, “because you hurled your toys, I will need to put the toys away until you can be responsible with them.” This is a natural consequence and calls them up into maturity.     

Calling Them Up

What do I mean by ‘calling them up’?  Calling them up means to believe in their capabilities.  Tying rewards with responsibility teaches them about the real world.  If you want a child to wake up with a decent attitude and get themselves ready for school, let them know that this is a part of being a mature person.  Instead of, “Johnny, are you ready? Johnny, get up. Oh my gosh, Johnny, I can’t believe I have to tell you again!! GET UP!!!” You can say, “You know, I think you are getting old enough to get yourself ready in the morning without a lot of help. It’s a pretty grown up thing to do.  Do you think you are ready?” When they have done it for a few weeks, then bring on the rewards by allowing them to stay up for a half hour past their brother and read books in bed. Or better yet, offer the reward of telling some of your friends how mature Johnny is now that he’s responsibly getting himself ready in the morning.  Praise goes a long way. If they are not able to do the task, let them know that it’s ok to not be able to do it, and you can work on one aspect of getting themselves ready like brushing their teeth on their own every day. Calling them up says, “I think you are capable.”

Balance

Now, everything needs to be balanced.  This is a guideline, not a rule set in stone that can never be broken.  Think through what your child needs in a given situation and use wisdom.  Sometimes they just might need a blessing out of the blue and for no reason.  Sometimes you just might need a break to regroup so you don’t lose your mind. Some kids may like being babied and need another strategy all together.  Just be aware of what you are communicating to a child. Also, realize every child matures at a different rate and in different ways, so we can’t really compare and contrast our kids.

The goal is to know your child, see where they need to grow in responsibility and call them up.

Sorry/Not Sorry

It’s important to not cover over a situation with a lie by telling them, because they said the ‘magic words’, that everything is all better.  And don’t make the offended person pretend everything is all better because they heard the ‘magic words’.  

Sorry_Not Sorry
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Teaching kids, particularly siblings, the complexities of apologizing and forgiving is difficult.  When my kids were young, I would require one of the them to say, ‘I’m sorry’ and the other one to say, ‘I forgive you’ but I knew neither of their hearts were in a good place.  The reason it’s so difficult is because these are heart issues, not a learned skill.  As a parent, I was frustrated because I knew I didn’t know what I was doing.  As I’ve learned about the complexities of my own heart when I need to seek forgiveness or to forgive, I’ve thought of a few things that might help young children.

Teach Outside of the Moment

Hearts are raw when an apology is needed.  An offense has occurred and pride is magnified.  This really is not the time to ‘teach’ a child (or anyone else).  The ears to hear, the eyes to see, and the heart to feel are all closed.  To look at a child/person and say, “now, say you’re sorry” will never produce sorrow.

Discussions outside of the moment need to happen.   You can talk about upcoming situations like going to a friend’s house or what happened at the friend’s house yesterday.  Honor their hearts by letting them know that being sorry is actually really difficult.  Teaching outside of the moment allows the heart to come back to neutral so they can hear, see, and feel rationally.    

Recognize You’re the Example

Look at your own tendency when you have offended someone.  Instead of owning a wrongdoing, most people justify; I was tired, I’m suffering PMS, I wanted it, he made me mad, I was stressed, but you…   It’s human nature to justify and your children are human.  When you have offended your children, do you apologize or justify?  Acknowledge the difficulty in yourself to seek forgiveness for an offense, especially when you have a justification.

It starts before they are walking by exampling how to apologize.  Then, as they get older, you explain how badly you felt when you hurt someone and how you want to make things right or ways you want to change.

Talk About Feelings

Have regular conversations about feelings.  This might be a stretch even for you, but it’s worth learning how to do.  Young children who don’t have words for emotions can learn by coloring pictures of faces depicting emotions and use the pictures to point to how they are feeling. They can express their own emotions through dolls and stuffed animals.   You can even develop a game of Simon Says to ‘put on’ different faces.  These all help children to think about emotions.

Use Third Parties

Empathy is the driver to actually being sorry when we have offended someone.  Talking about how others might be feeling (empathetically not gossipy), how characters in books might be feeling, or how animals might be feeling all help build empathy in your child.  Questions like, ‘how do you think you would feel if….’ help a child relate emotionally with others.

The Mechanics of An Apology

Teaching the mechanics of a good apology may be the most difficult part since it’s not really a part of our culture.  Peacemaker Ministries developed the 7 A’s of an Effective Apology.   

Address everyone involved:  The apology needs to go as far as the offense.  If sister hits brother in front of five people, then five people need to hear the apology.

Admit specifically what they did: By being specific about an offense it communicates to the person so that they understand what they did wrong.

Avoid using “if’s”, “but’s” and “just’s”:  Whenever these words are used in an apology, it negates the apology and you can be guaranteed it will happen again.

Acknowledge the hurt:  To tell a person how you believe your actions affected them emotionally goes a long way.

Accept the consequences of their actions:  When we fight against (complain, pout, guilt-trip, manipulate) because we are suffering a consequence, we don’t learn from it.

Alter their behavior:  We need to let the person know how we intend to correct our behavior next time.

Ask for forgiveness:  We need to use the actual words, “Will you forgive me.”  There are a hundred ways to get around this.  It’s humbling to ask to be forgiven and that’s what is needed for the offender.

This is one of the most difficult and important things to accomplish in parenting because no person can force another person to be sorry.  A child/person can make it all the way through the mechanics of an apology and not really be sorry for having offended someone else.  Instead of going through the checklist with a child, you can ask them questions like, ‘I think you’re trying to apologize but what are you apologizing for?’  ‘If you are truly sorry, then why are you fighting the consequence?’  ‘How will you change your behavior next time?’  

Don’t worry too much if you get into a particular situation where you believe your child isn’t actually sorry.  It’s not a hill to die on.  Everyone, even you, will have an off day.  Let it go for the moment recognizing that this is an area for more conversation, role play, and leading by example outside of the moment.   

It’s important to not cover over a situation with a lie by telling them, because they said the ‘magic words’, that everything is all better.  And don’t make the offended person pretend everything is all better because they heard the ‘magic words’.  Most of the time the offended person knows if the apology was a lie.  Let them know that you see the difference.  You might leave a particular situation that isn’t going well with,

‘I don’t think you really understand how that made your sister feel, but I’m going to let this go and trust that you will think more about it.’  

‘I think we’ve talked about this long enough, but I’m disappointed that you don’t seem to understand how your actions/words have affected your brother.  I hope next time you will be more careful.’  

‘I can’t make your heart be sorry.  But you should recognize that your actions broke the relationship with your sister and it’s important to repair the relationship.  I’m going to let you think about that.’  

‘You know what, this isn’t going very well.  We will talk more about this after you have a rest and a snack.’  

As a parent, you have dozens opportunities every week to lead your child’s heart in this area.   Sometimes it’s tempting to keep folding clothes and yell from the other room ‘now, say you’re sorry.’  But I encourage you to slow down, honor your child’s heart, talk about these things, and lead them by example.

Raising Door-Openers

Raising Door-Openers
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

I overheard a conversation by some moms about why they should teach their boys to open a door for a girl.  They thought it ended up being just tradition which was outdated.  Women and girls really can open most doors and it’s demeaning to females to think they can’t get it open.  I’d like to offer my two cents on this.

First, I don’t think we should teach ‘boys’ to open doors for ‘girls.’  That is a rule and what we need here is a principal.  The underlying principle that should be taught is ‘the stronger gives deference to the weaker.’  This isn’t a maleness issue or a femaleness issue.  We see this value consistently in our culture.  This is the reason a pedestrian has the right-of-way.  This is the reason we make handicapped parking areas close to the door.  This is the reason we have foster homes for children in need.

This is not true of many other cultures.  I lived in another culture for a time and pedestrians did not have the right-of-way.  If you were walking where you shouldn’t be, a vehicle didn’t have to stop.  Too bad for you!  In some cultures the concept of a line is non-existent…whoever pushes their way to the top wins.  There are even some cultures where children are left on the streets to survive.

I think Scripture is consistent on this matter.

1 Cor. 8:9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

1 Cor. 8:12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

Isa. 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.

Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Strength is given to protect and serve.  We see consistently throughout the world and throughout the ages that when strength becomes self-serving it devours and destroys.  The reason it is right that a strong man, when he arrives at the door first, does not bully his way in first, is because he could bully his way in first and he could win.  It’s good for his heart to defer.   It is equally right for a woman to open a door for an elderly man with a cane.  Or a child to open a door for a person in a wheelchair.  Or a woman to open the door for a UPS employee who is using his strength to carry a heavy load.  Strength gives deference (esteem/value) to weakness.

When a strong person does something for a weaker person with an attitude of, ‘this person is incompetent and can’t figure this out so I will have to do it for them’, they are being a jerk.  When a strong person does something for a weaker person with an attitude of ‘I am deferring to you’, they are being courteous.  It doesn’t matter that you could open the door or carry the box yourself.   

So, teach your sons and your daughters the principal.  Teach them what their strengths are and how to use them for others.  Give them an eye to see those who may need a hand, and not just with door opening.  Teach them to look for the kid at school who may need encouragement.  Teach them to look for opportunities to help a friend in need.  Show them by example as you serve others and let them serve family members.  Teach them the principal and you won’t need to teach them every rule for every situation.  

 

Parenting: Are you exhausted from disciplining your kids?

Are you exhausted from disciplining?
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

A mother of young children came to me exhausted from disciplining her children.  She was diligent and tried to address all misbehavior when she found it.  But she found herself doing nothing but addressing misbehavior all day.  It didn’t seem to help.  This is not an uncommon problem.  Here are some guidelines I like to share with young mamas.

Teach the Good

Make sure you are letting them know the character you want to see, instead of all they are doing wrong.  Positive teaching should always outweigh negative correction.  After all, how would you like if ‘you’ were following you all day long telling you to ‘stop this’ and ‘don’t do that?’    If you find yourself everyday, all day, dishing out consequences, yelling, ‘reminding’, and otherwise correcting your child, it’s time to start teaching the character quality that you want to see.  Think of it as a homeschool unit study on character.  For instance, if you are regularly dealing with anger here are a few ideas:

 

  • Affirm the child’s emotions as valid, but let them know it’s important how we express our emotions
  • Affirm characters in stories/movies that show patience, kindness, and those who show consideration
  • Talk about the benefits of being agreeable, or content, or pleasant
  • Read stories of characters who learn to control their anger 
  • Memorize Scripture regarding patience, kindness and trust
  • Have them perform a play with puppets being angry and acting poorly and then acting well
  • Talk about resolving problems in a third-person way.  Ask your child what would help a character in a story to express their anger in a positive way (ask them to find creative ways to resolve problems).
  • Call Grandma and praise your child (so they can hear you) when they have exhibited self-control
  • Do an art project that promotes calm (like a calm down jar)
  • Let them decorate big letters that spell out ‘kindness’ and place on the wall
  • Celebrate when you see the positive character develop
  • Pray before bed that God will teach us to deal with our anger and teach us patience
  • Confess and offer amends to those we may have hurt which should lead to freedom, not condemnation
  • Talk about your own struggle with anger and how you deal with it
  • If you get angry in front of or at your children, confess your sin and ask for forgiveness
  • And, of course, the best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else.  Older children could be asked to lead a family study on patience or kindness.  

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Work on One Character at a Time

Of course, throughout the day, there are a multitude of character issues that come up that will need to be addressed.  Choosing only one area to have special emphasis on will bring quicker growth and not overwhelm your child.  If you have multiple children it also works to have everyone working on the character quality…even you!  It’s AWESOME that even God doesn’t deal with all our character defects at one time!

Structure

Is there structure to your child’s day?  Children thrive in an environment of structure.  This is not to be hard-nosed, never bending structure, but rather is there a routine. Do they know what is expected of them? Do they know what to do when they get up, after dinner, and before bed?  Do they know what is expected of them at church, in the grocery store, and at a friend’s home?  Do children as young as three have regular jobs to help with the day?  Structure can provide a sense of security and therefore they don’t have a need to test the boundaries as much.

Check Yourself

If your child is struggling with a character issue, check your own behavior just in case you struggle with it as well.   Unfortunately, our kids pick up the bad as well as the good from us.  I’ve often said that I believe God gives us our children to raise us.  If you do struggle with the issue, don’t hide it from your child.  You can ask for help and show them the way to change.

Sowing

Of course, at times you will need to allow or provide a consequence for negative behaviors.  But, if you are working toward positive behaviors, it will automatically reduce the challenges of negative behaviors.  If you are exhausted from dealing out consequences, your kids probably are too.  Proverbs 11:18 says, “The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.”  Sowing takes effort, but it’s worth it.