A while ago we did a radio interview with our kids on the topic of sex. This is such an important topic, and one that often many parents are bashful or hesitant about addressing. Give it a listen!
When Moses told the nation of Israel to follow God’s commandments and “impress them on your children,” (Deut. 6:7) he was not speaking just to parents but to an entire community. He knew individual families were vulnerable. He knew that a family was only as strong as its community. He knew they would need each other in almost every way if their faith was to be passed on from generation to generation.
In the context of struggling with sin, the Bible tells us to carry each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Yet, most parents try to take care of their problems themselves to avoid embarrassment or imposition.
The way core beliefs are formed is complex. Our environment, the media, our peers, and mostly the homes we grew up in are the major contributors to the things we believe about ourselves and others. Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about this, but the beliefs are there regardless, and contribute greatly to much of our behavior. Core beliefs deeply affect our parenting. For example, if conflict was treated as a problem and swept under the rug in the home I grew up in, then I will likely feel very anxious about conflict and will work hard to avoid it or put a quick stop to it in my children. My core belief may be, “People should be nice and not have conflicts.”
What “tapes” do you play in your head?
The funny thing about core beliefs is that they become almost imperceptible repeating “tapes” that play over and over again in our minds. When we learn to say them out loud they sound almost ridiculous. But they hold power over us until we can replace them with new “tapes” or phrases that grow from truth.
To fertilize desired behavior requires thoughtfulness. We hope this simple acronym helps you throw a little “Miracle Grow” on your children’s wanted behavior. (These concepts are not meant to be a specific sequence, so mix up the order as appropriate.)
A few years ago, I took my two young nephews camping. Just the three of us.
One morning I got up early to think and pray about our day. The previous night had been fun but exhausting, so I enjoyed the refreshing solitude, focused my mind on expressing my joy in my nephews, and then woke them for breakfast.
After breakfast I wanted to go fishing as soon as possible and decided to let the boys play while I cleaned up. They started wrestling and were loud enough to bother the other nearby campers. Focused more on getting the dishes done than on what was good for the boys, I scolded them sternly three or four times to get them to be quiet, which accomplished nothing. They kept up their noise and friendly tussling. I felt my ears getting hot.
I took a deep breath. I recognized that this was not what I had hoped for, and that the way I was reacting was not helpful. I changed my plan.
How Fights are Reinforced…or Resolved
If kids get a stern scolding, angry tones, harsh consequences, and nothing else from parents when they physically fight then fighting is reinforced because the combative mood is continued and modeled by the parents. In the kids’ minds, scolding is nothing more than a grown up form of intimidation and power. Children learn by the adult’s example that to win at fights is to win at life.
However, if fighting children are constructively managed, they will learn to work through conflict better. They’ll learn that resolving conflict well is a win for both parties. So here are some quick ideas for constructive conflict intervention when kids fight.
2. It brings people together! Few things are more connective than enjoying a huge belly laugh together with those you love. Laughter releases a variety of “feel good” chemicals in our brain including oxytocin, the “empathy hormone” that promotes bonding between people.*
3. It’s good for you, body AND soul! Research shows that laughter makes you happier and healthier. Homes where laughter is absent are more stressful and less physically healthy. One doctor’s research reveals that laughter increases antibodies and decreases infection. Laughter also decreases stress hormones.**
4. It’s BIBLICAL! “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
5. Just because you can! Enjoy those hilarious times with your family! Unfortunately, in many families, as children age, they enjoy less and less laughter with their parents. This is certainly not inevitable, however, and parents can make a commitment to keep laughter alive as their children grow.
** Lee Berk, Loma Linda University School of Medicine News: March 11, 1999.