Kids make messes. Parents ask and ask (and it really sounds like nagging) their kids to take responsibility for their things and it seems like it is hard to come up with a strategy that works. At Connected Families, we believe that there is a gift behind every misbehavior. It’s true! It might be hard to see how your kids’ messiness could be a gift, but with intentionality, and a change in perspective, both parent and child can often come to a solution that eliminates the nagging and encourages the child in her gifts.
I worked with a family recently that came up with a very practical suggestion for helping kids manage their messes, and it seemed to work. Read the following to spur your own ideas for helping your children through a particularly challenging behavior. Whether it is a messy bedroom, messy entryway, missed or lost homework, forgotten chores– consider how you might adapt this family’s solution to your own special circumstances.
Emma is one of those sunny, lively kids that spreads joy and laughter wherever she goes, along with a trail of mess–a testimony to her creativity (the gift she has). Since Emma has a sister who shares the art supplies, it was difficult to enforce consequences like putting the mess/supplies into a timeout for a few days. Each of the girls were perpetually waiting for the other one to clean up after the supplies had been used. The old adage, “If everyone’s responsible, no one’s responsible” applied well to this situation.
One of the best times to show love to your kids is when they are misbehaving. Anger, frustration and lecturing are standard reactions to a kid who does something wrong, but do they work to change behavior? I worked with many troubled kids before I co-founded Connected Families with Lynne and learned quite a few things about the messages kids receive (and don’t receive) when they are getting a consequence. Many kids who did something wrong, already defined themselves as “bad.” Undeserving of love. Yet, this is not how God responds to our sin, even when we are at our worst. (See Romans 3:23-24.)
In the winter of 2012, I was desperate for help. My kids at that time were five and seven. We formed our family through adoption, and I wasn’t prepared for the struggles we were having with our then seven year old. Since he had turned three we had been throwing “fixes” at him – hoping that something would stick. (can anyone relate?).
On a particularly difficult day, I was sharing some really hard moments with our adoption group during one of our regular gatherings. One of the moms, who was familiar with Connected Families, encouraged me to check out their resources. I went home, ordered Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Heart (which had just been released!) and How to Grow a Connected Family – both from Connected Families.
I remember they day they arrived. I carved out a big chunk of time and devoured Discipline That Connects. It was exactly the hope that I so desperately needed.
I was so profoundly impacted by the content that a few months later during a job transition, I contacted Connected Families to see if a position was available. At that time there wasn’t, but I met Jim and Lynne – instantly felt camaraderie with them – and then, the fall of 2013 I was hired by Connected Families.
One of my very first convictions was that Discipline That Connects NEEDS a larger audience! There are so many parents desperate – just like me! Moms and dads crying out for help. Knowing that what “worked” for them as a child, isn’t “working” as they raise their children.
And so I encouraged Jim and Lynne to seek out a publisher for Discipline That Connects rather than self-publish. Fast forward to today…..on September 20, 2016 (two months from today!) Bethany House Publishers is going to release the 2nd edition of Discipline That Connects With Your Child’s Hearts!
I believe that if Jesus came to us today, he would in some way say to all of us, “Black lives matter!* Be humble, listen, and love with my love.”
My heart is troubled.
As I look at the various viewpoints about the racial tension and highly publicized killings, my biggest takeaway is deep sadness. Wives have lost their husbands. Children have lost their fathers. Mothers have lost their children. We all have lost brothers and sisters.
Many parents today are wondering “what am I called to do in response?”
Our encouragement today – talk with your kids about how Jesus responded to marginalized groups of people during his life. HE is our model!
At a time in history when children were dismissed and largely considered irrelevant, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me! For they are like the kingdom.” It turns out that children matter! Do they matter more than anyone else? No, but this was a great opportunity to elevate the unique way in which children matter. Jesus similarly highlighted Gentiles, women, orphans, lepers, and the poor. He also did this with Samaritans, the closest equivalent in the Jewish world to the racial tension of today. In essence, by telling the story of the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10), and by ministering to the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4), Jesus proclaimed, “Samaritan lives matter!” Jesus consistently sent the message, “The people you think of as less important are equally important!”
Making meaningful memories is one of the best parts of summer. How are you doing during this season? Have you been able to create memorable moments together? Connected Families consists of people like you, moms and dads who want what’s best for their families, no matter the time of year. Summer is about halfway done and we wanted to share some encouragement for our readers.
We don’t have all the answers, but we are working or have worked through many of the same issues you struggle with in your homes. We thought it would be fun to share some of the personal applications of summer rules, great memories, and intentional parenting that we are aiming for as parents ourselves. Some of the ideas may work for you, some may not. Regardless, we’d love to hear how things are going in your family this summer!
We asked some of our staff to relay some of their thoughts and challenges that come with summertime and kids.
Here’s what they had to say:
One of the many cool things about Connected Families is the staff. We all understand that parenting takes a lot of work, a lot of intentional planning and that it is worth it. We, too, have been in the trenches, trying to learn how to “do it right” and bring peace and connection at home. When you receive coaching, sign up for an ecourse, or read a Connected Families book, front and center are people just like you who have faced difficult parenting questions and have done our best to grow a family that is stronger. We believe in a forgiving God who comes alongside us as parents just as we desire to come alongside our children nurturing what is best for them and in them.
Stacy Bellward is the Connected Families online course moderator. She is moderating the new Sibling Conflict Online Course and took the time to share how she implemented the things she has learned from the course while on a recent mission trip.
In her own words:
This summer was the first time I took my girls on a full fledged mission trip. I do not regret a second of it…but that does not mean it was all smooth. The thing was, I got to use SO MUCH of what Connected Families has taught me.
I chose a mission trip to support an existing initiative and provide something wanted or needed. In our case, we supported a small church and provided a Vacation Bible School to all their kids – something they did not have the resources to do. Ultimately, I wanted a place for my tween girls (10 and 12 years old) to have a place to serve and a reason for us to have deep preparatory conversations around mission and service and the vision and greater purpose for our lives.
This trip hit the mark.
Dad stayed home to work and fund the trip, so it was just us girls. We faced an obstacle right off the bat. We were camping and that meant that the three of us had to take on a new role of setting up the tent, something that typically dad had done.
With advice from the new Sibling Conflict course in my ears, I realized this would be an opportunity to get the girls to learn and accomplish a task together and gain confidence in their abilities. So, I asked my husband to teach the girls how to set the tent up. (I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with this great idea!)
But, I quickly had to implement all the calming skills I learned when things started getting ugly.
Connected Families provides resources for families to thrive. We love partnering with others who share our vision. Recently, Lynne Jackson wrote an endorsement of the book, 52 Ways to Connect With Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid by Jonathan McKee. She shares her impressions of the book below:
“Jonathan McKee deftly leads parents to find their way into rich connection and deep influence with their kids, while avoiding common defaults of either giving up or attempting to control kids’ screen use. The practical, inspiring wisdom in this book will help you raise kids with strong character and good judgment, prepared to wisely manage their smartphone use as they launch to independence. And the added bonus – they’ll want to come back and visit because of the quality of your relationship with them!”
More information about the book from the publisher:
Are you tired of battling your kids about screen time?
In a world where most kids age 2 to 12 have access to mobile devices, parents are searching for ways to pry their kids’ eyes from their devices and engage them in real, face-to-face conversation. Author Jonathan McKee–drawing from his 20-plus years of experience working with teens and tweens, studying youth culture, and raising three teens of his own–provides an abundant supply of useful tips and creative ideas to help you bond with the Smartphone Generation in his new book, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid. Jonathan offers you just the help you need to have meaningful interaction with your kids instead of always overreacting to their unhealthy consumption of technology and media.
Online gaming addiction is real. If you read the post about creative ways to nurture healthy boundaries around screen time for younger children, you may be shaking your head saying, “My kid is beyond that point…he is addicted.” Perhaps anytime you attempt to corral efforts at managing online gaming, you run up against a wall. Maybe your child or teenager is moody, sneaking time online or is lying about her online use. These and other symptoms are typical of an unhealthy online gaming obsession, according to WebMD. You need help with the battle to help your child break a habit that may have started out innocently enough, but now has turned into a full blown craving by which they seem to be enslaved.
You are not alone.
Signs of video game addiction:
- Child is moody, angry, or even aggressive when he is unable to play.
- Child frequently thinks and talks about games when not playing – life is focused on the games.
- Social interactions, previously preferred activities, or grades are negatively impacted.
- Child has stolen to get video games or frequently lies about playing time.
Here’s how one family started to help their son break his online gaming addiction as it had spiraled out of control:
Some kids can regulate their computer use with fairly minimal guidance. Dillon was not one of those kids. At fourteen, he was extremely intense, and obsessed with online interactive video games, especially Minecraft. He also played an empire building game that wasn’t as time-consuming but needed frequent daily attention.
If you have been reading about some of the exciting changes here at Connected Families, you will know about our new tagline. Our mission is to help families find “peace and connection at home.” Sarah Donatelle, mom of two, took the Connected Families Siblings Conflict online course, and told us about how she was able to teach her children to reconcile with each other through using techniques she learned. We just had to share her story with you.
“I still get choked up at the image of my son and daughter beaming with their little hands clasped, so excited that they were like “THIS” again! What a gift to see them rejoice in reconciliation and for my daughter to feel the freedom of being forgiven!” -Sarah
Connected Families: Sarah, will you share with us about your experience with the online courses you took through Connected Families?
Sarah: We did the DTC online course (as well as reading the book and going to a seminar) so we have been practicing and making progress on a lot of the principles. When we started the Sibling Conflict course, in the 2nd week, the homework was to think of something that would help resolve conflict more calmly.
Connected Families: How did you apply what you learned in the course?