Sometimes technology feels out of control. I am chief offender in our home. Two hours can pass and, if I’m completely honest, I don’t really remember much of what I did, saw, or believed was so important.
I recently came to realize that I was spending hours with various screens (computer, e-reader, phone, etc), as were my kids, simply because I was… BORED! Not that there weren’t other things to do, but somehow my life and the life of my kids was being sucked out of us with nothing to show for it.
Have you ever wondered what your family is “all about”? I asked this of coaching clients Ted and Dawn recently. They had come seeking help because their kids seemed ever more defiant, selfish, and irresponsible.
Eager to understand their family I asked them, “What would your kids say are the driving values you want to be sure they learn in your home? You know, how would they answer the question, ‘What is our family all about?’” Ted and Dawn weren’t sure. So I invited them to role play it with me. I played them and they played their kids. It went something like this:
The following is based on a reflection written by our eldest son, Daniel. We’ve adapted it a bit to speak more to parents. ~Jim & Lynne
What a relief it is to know that even if I somehow managed to become the person I’m constantly striving and browbeating myself to become, it wouldn’t earn me an ounce more of God’s already-abundant love for me. No more than running a marathon brings me closer to the sky. The sky is already here, touching me and filling me and nourishing me, and I am already safe.
We do it all the time. “Nice work! Great job! You’re so awesome!”
It’s nice to take notice and give energy to the good things our kids do. But throwing kids compliments like this without any substance is akin to throwing them popcorn when they’re hungry. It tastes good and kids want more, but it doesn’t really nourish.
If you really want a compliment to improve a child’s sense of significance and grow wisdom at the same time, give that same energy some substance. Like this:
Worried that bullying may be a part of your child’s life? Worried they could be the one that is the bully? Feeling helpless about what to do? Here are a few tips to help you think about what you as a parent can do to to prevent bullying.
When we see kids misbehave, often we ask “Where on earth did they learn that?” The problem — and the solution — is that often they learn it from us! Take a moment to ponder how your actions may be teaching your kids to bully, and what you can do about it.
It can be easy to blow your top when you hear your child is being bullied. But could there ever be anything good about bullying? Come along with us as we walk through a graceful response to bullying.
How did Jim stop the bullying of his eldest son? It isn’t what you would expect…
Sometimes kids just fight. It’s a part of life. But helping kids learn to navigate conflict in a healthy and constructive way can set them up to practice habits of problem-solving rather than bullying to “win” and get their way.
Whether through bullying or through other life circumstances, at some point your child will have to deal with rejection. Teach them where their value really comes from with this creative activity.
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Often times in the day-to-day messes of family life we need practical, specific ideas for how to communicate with our kids. Below are three of our most popular and practical tips — ideas that will provide a concrete tool in your parenting belt as you work to help build your kids’ character.
Learning to receive God’s grace for ourselves, and then dispensing that grace to our kids, is the essence of becoming a safe parent. When we do this, we can focus more on caring for our children’s souls than on managing their misbehavior.
It starts with me. Kids provoke us. And when we’re provoked, we tend to reveal what’s really inside us – especially when the provocateurs are our very own little children. What’s revealed is often not a very pretty picture. Virtually every parent we’ve talked to in any depth admits, “I don’t like the me that comes out when I discipline my kids.” One said, “I am so competent at work and with friends. I’m on my game almost all the time. But when my kids act up it’s like I lose the ‘real me!’ I become someone I don’t know or like.”
The tough truth to swallow is that whatever comes out of us IS the “real me.” The goofy thing is, that as much as we tend to despise the “me” that emerges, by the beauty of God’s grace, we are accepted just as we are (but God doesn’t want to leave us unchanged!).
You have good desires for your kids. You probably want them to learn neatness, diligence in homework, good eating patterns, and all sorts of other helpful habits.
But if you are anxious as you try to help them learn better habits, that anxiety often makes it harder for everyone, and your kids are more likely to reject your efforts.
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Kids are rejected from every side. Sometimes the rejection or criticism comes from a teacher that just doesn’t “get” your kid. Sometimes it comes from an angry family member. Sometimes it’s rejection from peers, gossiping, getting picked last in gym class. These daily rejections can erode our children’s sense of being loved and valuable. Being thoughtful about how to counter rejection will help your kids learn to weather the storm.
The following is an activity you can do with your kids to help them understand.
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Sometimes we humans seem to act unpredictably or irrationally. But every action has a purpose, rooted in an underlying or “core” belief. Our core beliefs are what guide our behavior.
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.