Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What a Child Is At 2, He Is At 12

We've all heard the saying.  The reality is, it's true. 

Some might think a 2 year old pitching a fit is kind of cute.  But it is a sign of things to come.  A screaming 12 year old is not cute. 

How should we respond to our children when they want something they cannot have?  If you negotiate, then keep reading! :)  Modern day mothering methods have let us down and produced a crop of frustrated, frowing moms and whining tiny tyrants.  But it gets really ugly when those tots are older.  Our prisons are full of them.

If a mama has kids who whine more than an ambulance, the first thing she needs to do is check her own attitude. If she's grumpy, easily frustrated, disorganized, inconsistent and unthankful, she cannot expect that environment to produce a happy, contented child.  The good news is that when we repent & ask the Lord for wisdom, he gives it liberally and without reproach.

Next, she must take responsibility for the state of her home and make some changes.  Remembering that as mother, YOU are in charge.  I've known many mothers who, when their child becomes ornery, suddenly forget they are the boss.  You can tell because they are the ones telling their kids this information. Mama, if you have to tell your child you are the boss, be certain that you are not.  :) 

One thing moms need to understand is that young children do not have the capacity to truly understand why they can't have, do, see, go, eat, get, buy, take, etc.  All they know is they have God-given drives for pleasure.
Trying to rationalize with a toddler is foolish. And detrimental.  Little ones just need to know the bottom line and who's in charge. Seeking their understanding only weakens your authority as a parent.  Teach your children to take you at your word. A no answer is sufficient all by itself. 

You do not need to explain your decisions.  If a child who hesitates before obeying, has any type of attitude problem or frequently (or even occasionally) asks why after you've given instruction, it is NOT because they are just curious.  It is because they are challenging your authority. Help them learn to take you at your word by always saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Never say no and then give in. 

The arm of discipline should never outreach the arm of fellowship. Make sure that you are in good fellowship with your children.  If you don't have their hearts, their admiration, their love and their trust, then you have some work to do. Seek to establish an atmosphere of genuine love in your home.  Loving your children means setting boundaries for them with calm and ease and all expectation of their compliance.   
A Few Practical Suggestions

Plan what you'll do for each kind of problem behavior your child has. And especially plan what to do before you leave your home, always being sure the child is fed & dry, diaper bag packed (if they still need one) and a clean blanket for on the go naps and so forth.   

Napping Anywhere
It's worth the trouble to teach a baby or toddler to nap anywhere. When my youngest was a baby, we had to attend frequent and long medical appointments and his naptime would often coincide with these.  So before he showed signs of fussing from sleepiness, I would pick him, and gently press his head to rest on my blanketed shoulder and whisper softly, "Go to sleep". 

From the first nap that followed, the expectation was set and from then on, he was trained to begin his "outing nap" on my shoulder.  Later I could lay his soft blanket on the floor almost anywhere and he'd take his nap with the same command.  I would sit right by him rubbing his back and stroking his hair now and then to reassure him until he drifted off.  Background noise, as long as it was reasonable and not sharp, was not an issue. 


The key is to start early and be consistent.  Always remember you're the mom and it's up to you how your household is run.  Create an atmosophere of joy and thankfulness.  Show me a light hearted and thankful mother and I'll show you a happy home.  Like it or not, the mother sets the tone in the home.  And a happy home does not produce a whining, defiant child.


Do you have time for a little reading?  Pick up a few books on parenting from www.nogreaterjoy.org and see if you find a few nuggets of wisdom you can learn by. 

Shopping

We all need to shop and for most of us, that means bringing along our children.   Do you dread this?  You shouldn't, because children can be a wonderful help in the store if you have the right approach and set them up for success. 
But two things have to be remembered:
  1.  Make sure they're fed, dry and reasonably happy before leaving home.
  2.  Make sure you teach them at home what they can expect at the store and most importantly what YOU expect from them while you're out.
Teach them clearly and with a smile.  This isn't Willy Wonka - bribery and motherese.  Promises of treats are not appropriate, either.  And it isn't Nazi Germany. No frowns and threats of punishment. 

Simply state what you want with dignity and respect.  Respect for yourself, the child and the stores you will be patronizing.  Any time a child flares up at your authority, appropriate Biblical chastisement will help him feel secure again.  Why?  Because a child needs boundaries!  And a loving parent who gives him firm and loving boundaries makes him feel secure.  And a secure child is a happy child.

Pre-Shopping Conversations with a Toddler

Here are some examples of the things I said to my children when they were very little before going shopping.  My children honestly never threw fits in a store.  They were my big helpers in the store. They are now in their teens and they are STILL my big helpers in the store with even bigger muscles.  They carry anything and everything for me.  They load and unload the car and help put things away. I'm already realizing that one day my boys will spread their wings and take to the sky and I will miss them so more than I could put into words.

When they were little, recieving compliments everywhere we went was nice and made me very proud of them. But do you know what the best thing was for me?  We had fun together! I actually looked forward to our shopping trips! Sucessful outings begin at home with conversations.

"It's time to go shopping.  I need BIG helpers to help me put things in my cart! (My kids would smile and raise their hands - "me, me!") Thank you Joseph! I will tell you what we need and your job will be to put it into our shopping buggy.  My, your muscles are getting big! You are such a big help to mama."

"Remember...the store will be full of many things but you are not to touch anything unless I ask you to." 

"Timmy, you get to sit in the top seat and hold the shopping list for me! That's an important job - do you think you can do it? You will help me know what I need to buy. You are such a big help to me. Isn't it fun to go shopping together?"


"I will try to get our things quickly so we can be back home soon!"

"We're only going to buy the things on my list, so remember not to ask mama to buy anything else. We must be careful how we spend money because daddy works very, very hard to earn it. Aren't we so thankful for Daddy!? He works hard for us so that we can buy what we need.   Will you help me pick out something special to put in his lunch box tomorrow?"

These conversations should happen before your child even learns to talk. Believe me, start right away.  Awise young mothers will converse with her infant which paves the road to success later on.

Happy Thankful Mama = Happy Thankful Children

There is no need for a child to throw a tantrum when his mama is preparing him and equipping him for life. She is her child's entire world.  Mama, your child sees the world through your eyes.  What are you showing him?

Teach them when they're little.  Train them to behave the way that is right BEFORE the need arises. Correction could be reduced by 90% by training them to do what is right before the need for discipline even arises. It will inevitably arise and when it does, a loving mother will help her child understand through biblical chastisement. 
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Show her how to answer when she speaks. Just repeat the correct way for her to copy. Talk about a potty seat long before he sits on one.  Talk about a pet long before hse has one.  Prepare, prepare and prepare. Teaching, talking, smiling, reading picture books, going on outings just for fun - just you and the children - these are seeds of love planted in the soft soil of his heart. 

Young moms have a tendency to want adult conversation. This is natural after being home with only little ones all day.  But it's wise to make play dates with other moms infrequent occasions. They tend to not only hinder your chances for training, teaching and enjoying her children while their character is still being set, but also make your already busy day even busier. 

When mine were little, our social occasions were kept to a minimum until they were older. Most of our social engagements were family gatherings. But day in and day out, I guarded our precious home life as much as necessary. And it paid off.  They learned how to behave because I wasn't too busy chatting with another mom to stop and train them. 

I see moms on the playground today doing and saying the most dreadful things to their children - all while trying desperately to carry on a conversation with a friend.  It's a vexing thing to watch a mother wrestle, plead, yell, threaten, ignore her child.  The Bible equates this with hating the child.  Why?  Because it is painful to correct, train and teach a child the way he should go.  It is a personal sacrifice that many parents are too selfish to make.

Which is more important?  Your "friends", statistically, will probably be short term figures in your life.  Your child, however, is a permanant one. 

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  -Proverbs 22:6 

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