Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Notice Good Behavior in Your Kids!!

A third tool for effective parenting according to Strengthening Families Program 10-14 is:
Notice good behavior.

It is SO easy to see all the ways our kids need "gentle correction," whether it is coming inside with muddy shoes, or leaving their book bag on the kitchen table, or squabbling with their sibling.

But do you notice the good things they do? Are you glad they played outside and got some exercise (instead of just sitting in front of the TV or computer)? Do you compliment them for being faithful to do their homework without your even asking?

When you praise your child, make it specific. Tell him or her, "Thanks for mowing the lawn. You did a very careful job even around the bushes and trees. I noticed you even put the mower back into the shed! Thanks so much." You may even give a special unexpected reward such as, "Here's money to ride your bike to the corner market for an ice cream." Better yet, take them there and enjoy one together!

As they say, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Lasting positive change is the result of positive reinforcement all along.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Ephesians 4:29).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Preteen and Teen Development

A second tool in the Strengthening Families Program is to understand preteen and teen development.

Life seemed quite predictable when my son and two daughters were in grade school. Sure there were squabbles, and they had to be pushed to do homework or chores. But you basically knew how they might behave in most situations.

Then came the preteen years! Each one went through many changes, physically, emotionally, socially, even spiritually. They each became more independent and even challenged authority in their own way. It is NORMAL for kids this age to want to be more independent and want to spend more time with their friends. Most want to spend more time by themselves, too, which can make a parent even feel forgotten or ignored or snubbed.

Kids may talk back to you and be "smart alecks." They need to know that THIS is not appropriate behavior; they may need consequences to help reinforce this.

BUT it is NORMAL for pre-teens and teens to act their age. Because that in fact is what they are!!

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (or woman), I put childish ways behind me" (1 Corinthians 13:11). This verse is at the end of the famous "love chapter." Paul says that of faith, hope, and love, LOVE is the greatest of all.

Lord, help me to LOVE my children where they are, even during the hard times, just the way you love me all the time. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Am I really listening?

We just finished a seven week session of Strengthening Families Program 10-14, in which young teens and their parents learn tools to make their relationships stronger and healthier. The first tool the parents learn in the class is:

Listen for the feelings.

When my child comes to me with a problem, do I immediately ask 20 questions? Or do I try to fix it for them? Or maybe I even get angry! Maybe all she wants is to be heard, to be loved. Maybe she wants to know that I understand.

Perhaps her best friend ignored her today, or even said something mean to her. I might say, "Sounds like you might be sad." Or maybe, "That must have made you feel very sad and lonely." She might even agree and say, "Yes, I was scared Susie won't be my friend anymore."

When we hear people's feelings, they feel accepted and cared for. After all, we really can't fix their problems. But we can be there for them. This will empower them to go on, to make their own decisions and feel secure.

And at the right time, we can share with them that Jesus always understands and cares. "Cast all your anxiety upon him, because He always cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7)

~Ginger Holler