I promised a few days ago that I would talk more about some topics from our parenting seminar, and, boy, did the days get away from me. I have so many things to say, and nary a minute to type them it seems. Lately, I have been innundated (in a good way) with so much worthwhile information on so many fronts. From marriage, to parenting, to living a full life as a godly woman, to nutrition, to family, I have so many thoughts I want to share. I figure, heck, if it hits home with me, it will with someone else as well. And, if not, at least I can refer back to it sometime!

The parenting seminar we attended a few weeks ago spoke to a number of issues dealing with the conscience. If you want to read about that aspect, you can find it here. Today, I want to speak to the idea of "tightening your action point." This is the area in which we could use a lot of improvement - well, one of many. :) Say JD is downstairs and I call him up because we need to get ready to go to town. I know, in my mind, that he is probably going to need to change into a decent pair of pants, put on his shoes, gather up whatever he thinks he needs for the ride in the van, go to the bathroom, get a drink, and get his coat, all before we can head out the door. Five minutes later, I call him again, saying we are going to walk out the door in 5 minutes and I need him ready to go. Five minutes later (or thereabouts if I haven't gotten distracted with something in the meantime) I yell at the top of my lungs that he better get his butt up the steps and into the van before I take away some privilege because he is not listening to me. (Of course, you all know that this is strictly an illustration and something that would NEVER happen in our home...) So, why did he come? He came because there was something that triggered action on his part - most likely, my yelling at the top of my lungs. I had said the same thing three times, but he knew that I meant business when I yelled it.

This seminar spoke to this problem - why are our kids not obeying when we tell them something? Why do they not respond immediately? Most parents need to look at tightening this action point and meaning what they say. You can't tell your kids to go to bed, and not have a routine in which to do so. You can't parent during commercials. You can't demand a response and not carry through with discipline. BUT, your kids know what the action point is - you can, most likely, ask them about when they know to do what you say.

It all ties back to the conscience and helping your children develop the awareness of doing what is right, and caring about others. Anger isn't necessary to get a response, but firmness may be. Make sure you are using instructions versus suggestions. "JD, can you get your coat on?" vs "JD, you need to get your coat on and get in the van." The first indicates that there may be a choice in the matter while the second explains the instructions. Firmness indicates a line in the sand that will have consequences if they cross it...harshness is emotional and not always rational. Firmness ties the instruction to the conscience and speaks to being responsible, looking out for others, cooperation, and consequences. By voicing our instructions, and expecting results, we can step away from behavior modification and work on conscience building - which has long term results.

How do you implement this? First of all, it helps to be working specifically on the conscience with all your disciplining in your home. To keep the conscience at the forefront, you can speak to how it is affecting a relationship (you really showed patience while helping your sister...) If you are speaking from a biblical perspective as well, you can speak to how God requires children to obey their parents. This, obviously, won't matter much to a child who has a conscience which is not greatly developed, so you may have work to do to make the awareness more acute. Then, you may need to speak to your children about the change in your household. If you have previously given your child chance after chance to perform a duty, listen to an instruction, etc., tell them that you will now be expecting them to respond to you right away. You can give them warnings about something coming up if you so choose, "You have five minutes until your computer time is over. Plan accordingly." But, the important thing, is that you must follow through once you state the desired action.

"JD, I need you to put your shoes on to prepare yourself to leave. You are responsible for getting yourself ready and you need to start now. When you are ready, report back to me." (Don't need to give the time frame - that may trigger procrastination)

Steps to help the process:
1. Have the child do the job requested
2. Instruct the child to report back to you when finished
3. Check the child's work, providing feedback
4. Release from work to free their conscience ("Okay, you're free to go.")

Use eye contact, hand holding, and get down on their eye level to assure they are listening.

What if they don't do it? What if they refuse?

We'll talk about "dealing with wrongs" in an upcoming post!
Addendum: After re-reading this post, I feel I failed to mention something vitally important...Ask God for the wisdom to parent your children effectively. Don't try to do it on your own. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work within your child to bring his/her conscience to the surface and KEEP it there. It is only by God's love and his grace that ANY of this is possible. Pray, pray, pray!
Labels: edit post
8 Responses
  1. THIS IS A GREAT POST! I too have had much thrown at me in the way of LEARNING about family and marriage lately. God is really working in our home for sure!

    I enjoyed this and will be back to re read it many times. Thanks for sharing. AND please, share more!

  2. Love this post, Sarah! Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts. Looking forward to more!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    GREAT STUFF! We are really hoping to take the sunday class if it's offered. I'm so thankful you're sharing what you learned!

  4. Joyce Says:

    Hi, Sarah,
    Isn't it wonderful to be learning and growing as a Christian parent? Also, all the other things you mentioned that you are learning are exciting as well. I guess we'll never run out of things to learn in this life!

    I should try to remember back to how I taught my little ones to obey immediately. My husband and I both have a quiet, rather gentle parenting style. I think I worked alongside the children when they were little, to make sure they really understood what I wanted them to do. I made sure they knew how much I needed their help. I prepared them ahead of time for new situations. That's all that comes to mind just now. :P

  5. Jen Says:

    That is great advice. I have problems getting Miller to listen..Madison is at an age she knows tones in my voice when i'm serious and not Miller has been harder though.

  6. Tiffany Says:

    I gleaned so much from this post. Particularly for dealing with two of my three. I will be putting these things into practice today! Thank you for taking the time to share. I look forward to future posts on this and the other things you are learning.

  7. Sarah Says:

    The "report back to me" step has really helped because it keeps me from going off the deep end much later when I happen to find an incomplete job, etc. Plus, it helps them to be released after they did a good job rather than have it hang over their head as to whether or not they'll keep having to re-do it.

  8. Bonnie Says:

    Great great post Sarah !! I have bookmarked it to refer to later ...

    meaning what you say ... good reminder !!