Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Solution Isn't Just Bigger Consequences

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Some problems that children face are more difficult than others. Annoying behavior, irresponsibility, habitual teasing, and forgetfulness are just a few examples. Out of frustration, some parents think that the child needs bigger and bigger consequences. They believe that the bigger the consequence, the faster the change.

Remember that the goal is a changed heart, not just punishment for doing wrong. A bigger consequence may be needed to get the child's attention but the real work takes place by helping the child begin to think differently and develop new patterns of behavior. Often many small corrections are more effective than one big one.

Mature people will feel an internal pain when they discover that they’ve made a mistake or done the wrong thing. This is normal and healthy. Your child may not experience that same inner sense yet. Consequences create a kind of pain for children. This pain can motivate right behavior and get them moving in a helpful direction.

One example of this is the parent who decided to take away the privilege of riding a bike from her nine-year-old son. She said, "Son, I'm not taking the bike away for a set number of days. I'm taking the bike away until I see some progress in the way you're treating me when I call you in for dinner. We'll see how you do for the next few days and when I get a good response then we can talk about you having your bike again."

Mom turned the discipline around so that the child had to earn back the privilege. She wanted to see several positive change points before she allowed her son to ride his bike again. Using consequences in this way allows the parent to give and take away privileges without removing hope or the motivation to change. Often repeating smaller consequences is more effective than one big consequence.

Consequences may get your child’s attention, and may even motivate change, but the real work is done by practicing right thinking and developing new patterns of reacting. Talking about character qualities and planning new responses helps to change habits. Over time maturity will take hold.

For more ideas about correcting with more than just consequences, consider the book The Christian Parenting Handbook, 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages
of Your Child’s Life
by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.. You’ll appreciate the wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Firmness with Relationship

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Children and parents should be friends, but don't let that desire weaken your limit-setting. One mom of three teens said, "I used to feel bad when I had to say 'No' because I thought they'd be mad at me. Now I've learned to make a decision and enforce it because it's the right thing to do. They may get angry, but I have to do it because I'm their mom. After they settle down, they know I did it for their own good."

Firmness doesn't need to be cold and distant. Eye contact, gentle words, and extra time can add a personal touch to parenting that helps children feel valued. Putting your hand on your son's shoulder, calling your daughter close to give an instruction, addressing a child by name, and speaking softly are all ways to show children that they're important. Children are not possessions to order around with harshness—they're treasures to treat with honor. Sometimes we have to respond, "I'm sorry but I have to say no."

Nagging and harshness, are relationship-damaging patterns and require retraining of both children and parents. Children must learn to respond to different cues, and parents must learn other habits of giving instructions or warnings. Changing habits is not easy and requires self-discipline, courage, and humility. The work, though, provides parents with one of the skills that demonstrates honor-based parenting.

To learn more about honor-based parenting, consider
 thebook, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids" by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. We call it The Honor Book.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Peacemaker or a Troublemaker?

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
A good way to help children overcome the problem of anger is to teach them how to be peacemakers instead of troublemakers. Anyone can get angry and most people do. Few are mature enough to be peacemakers. Being a peacemaker helps to break down anger in one's self and in others. Peacemakers seek to bring people together in agreement and look for solutions where everyone wins. They think of the needs of others and try to make everyone feel good. A peacemaker honors others and promotes harmony, bringing joy into the family.

So, how can you help children become peacemakers? Here are a few practical ideas. Target your parenting so that children can learn to be peacemakers. Teach children to:
• Look for things in common, not differences.
• Try to agree, not disagree.
• Work toward common solutions where everyone wins, not where one person wins and others lose.
• Use love as a motivation, not anger or meanness.

Work to give your angry child a vision for being a peacemaker. It will open up new ways of thinking about offenses and provide opportunities to deal with anger in others as well. That's why Jesus said, "Blessed (or happy) are the peacemakers," Matthew 5:9.

This parenting tip comes from 
a chapter on sibling conflict in the book, "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids" by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. We call it The Honor Book.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Kids Tend to Blame Others

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Isn’t it amazing that some children seem to be able to see every factor that went into their current problem except their own part in it? Indeed, some kids have a problem blaming others and not taking responsibility for their part of the problem. In the child’s mind, it’s always someone else’s fault. These children have the ability to see all kinds of reasons why an offense occurs, but can’t see how their own actions contributed to it, or at least they don’t want to admit it.

Children who blame, lie, or resist taking responsibility have a character weakness. It’s not enough to just use parental authority to overpower a child or worse yet, to humiliate a child. Those techniques are counterproductive. It takes courage and confidence to admit fault. Coaching children to rise to the occasion and, at times, requiring that they do so, can be an excellent way to increase confidence levels in that child.

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. —James 4:6

In your family, talk about the difference between pride and humility by doing a few activities to encourage humility as an important success principle for life. Everyone can participate providing examples of what humility looks like.

You might simply ask, “What is a way you did or will demonstrate humility today?” Or brainstorm ideas of ways people demonstrate humility and why it’s helpful. You could contrast humility with arrogance and describe how they are demonstrated and why people appreciate one and are annoyed by the other. This could be fun to role play as well, joking together but in doing so making a point.

Guard against parenting approaches that actually encourage defensiveness in kids. Parents who tend to ask investigative questions about an offense make the error of encouraging kids to explain their defense. Asking “What happened here?” Can cause children to focus on the faults of others. Asking the question, “What did you do wrong?” is often more productive.

The underlying problem in many children is the reluctance to admit fault for various reasons. Sometimes, it’s fear of punishment or parental disapproval or the self-condemnation that comes from admitting weakness. Those deeper issues must be met with a bigger approach involving teaching, coaching, and training.

The reality is that admitting fault isn’t a sign of weakness but is a sign of strength. The person who responds well to correction learns faster and matures more rapidly. Taking time to dialogue about these truths can help kids resist the urge to blame problems on others.

This idea comes from chapter 43 in The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Friday, March 6, 2015

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How Dad and Mom Helped Lucy Develop Thoughtfulness

By Dr Scott Turansky, cofounder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting

Lucy is ten years old and is quite disorganized, often leaving messes around the house. Mom is frustrated because of the tension in the relationship that’s often demonstrated through nagging on Mom’s part and a bad attitude on Lucy’s. It’s time for a change and Dad andMom determined to use a heart-based approach.

First, they identified the positive heart quality they wanted their daughter to work on. They decided to call it “thoughtfulness,” and defined thoughtfulness for Lucy in these ways:

Thoughtfulness is cleaning up when you’re finished with an activity.
Thoughtfulness means turning around at the door of the kitchen or bathroom to see if there’s something that you forgot.
Thoughtfulness is making sure that the space I used is ready for the next person.

Sometimes simply sharing a new idea is all kids need. They’re able to take the new ideas and incorporate it into their lives. But Lucy needed more than an idea and a positive discussion. She needed some vision to get her going in the right direction.

Dad and Mom had a meeting with Lucy to talk about thoughtfulness and how it’s an important quality for the rest of her life. Adults too need thoughtfulness, and organization is a way of demonstrating it to others. They talked about the benefits of thinking about others: it increases friendships, helps others feel cared for, and even assists her in finding her own things and keeping herself organized. Some kids just need some visioning to take the idea and run with it and make some changes, but Lucy needed more. She needed some firmness.

Dad and Mom began to hold Lucy accountable. Instead of telling her to clean up her messes, they asked her, “How are you doing with thoughtfulness?” They would try to catch her leaving the kitchen or bathroom and say, “Did you check?” Their coaching attitude with Lucy changed the negative harsh nagging to a positive encouraging attitude. And that seemed to be the key for Lucy. She started to make some changes.

If that wouldn’t have worked, Dad and Mom could have added consequences to their plan. Since Lucy enjoys playing on her iPad, they might remove the privilege of iPad use until thoughtfulness is demonstrated. The iPad could be parked until released by approval from a parent who takes the time to do some inspections of Lucy’s spaces.

And, if Lucy were to continue to have a bad attitude in the process, it might be helpful for Dad and Mom to have Lucy take a break until she’s ready to come back and work on the problem with a good attitude. Those further acts of firmness can help develop new patterns for Lucy.

But Lucy did make changes. Dad and Mom encouraged her maturity and helped her see that she was enjoying life more and others were enjoying her as well. Lucy still needed reminders at times, but those because less and less and Dad and Mom were pleased with the results of their work.

Remember that the goal isn’t just behavior change. The heart contains tendencies. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” In other words, the things that come out of the mouth start in the heart. The thoughtfulness that Lucy needs to develop must come in the heart and the continual work of Dad and Mom are helping their daughter change the internal dialogue. Raising the awareness of the need to change, and the way to do it helps Lucy make changes now that will help her for the rest of her life.

Lucy’s story is just one practical example of how a heart-based approach to parenting changes a child. The focus isn’t on rewards and punishment, as most parenting approaches take today. Rather children need a heart-based approach that motivates them to live life differently.

The new book “Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,” provides parents with a biblical, practical approach to reaching their children’s hearts. You can learn more at

Developing a Strong Faith and a Clear Conscience

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
The most important task for any parent is to help a child develop a strong faith and clear moral direction. But how do you do that when you have to get the clothes cleaned up and the dishes put away? Most parents find themselves to be very busy helping kids with homework, taxiing them around to various activities, and simply accomplishing life.

The key to making sure that what really matters remains in the schedule is to be intentional. If you plan spiritual training into your schedule it will happen. If you wait to see if there’s any time left, you’ll likely miss out. By making spiritual training a priority, you’ll see kids develop a stronger personal faith and it will affect so many things in their lives.

Attitudes about self, others, and life in general are all affected by spiritual training. It’s interesting that many parents are concerned with the attitudes their children demonstrate. Often a “me first” attitude, or an “I don’t care attitude,” or a “don’t interrupt me while I’m on my video game” attitude frustrate parents. Kids need a steady stream of values training in order to develop healthy attitudes about life. Parents who take time to provide that input reap positive results. As you plan for spiritual development, remember 3 key components, Build RelationshipShare Scripture, and Practice Faith. These components can put hands and feet to your plans.

Significant conversations with kids are a treasure for parents. Sometimes those happen spontaneously and other times they are planned. Working faith out in life is a key element of a child’s growth and development. But it’s hard to work it out if we don’t have some basic instruction about what God teaches.

When it comes to passing faith on to kids, it’s often best to focus in four basic areas. First, who God is, describing Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Fatherhood of God. Second, kids need to understand who they are, a created being with a heart, a sin nature, and the place where God chooses to live. Third, it’s important for children to understand God’s plan. He created the world, instituted a plan for salvation, and has a specific plan for each person including them. Fourth, kids need to understand that the Bible is our authority for life. It’s not about how you feel or even about what you think. The question is, “What does the Bible say about my life today?”

Good theology results in good practice and it starts on a simple level as children learn more about God and the Bible. Take time to read God’s Word yourself and help kids dig into the scriptures themselves. Most effective discipleship takes place in the home.

For more information about developing
 a strong faith and clear conscience, consider ordering our newest book Motivate Your Child, A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Persevering in Communication

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Some parents lose their desire to communicate on a deeper level because their children reject their opinions, feelings, or initiative. That hurts. It may take a while for your children to see you’re trying to connect in significant ways. You may have to discipline a child for insensitivity or meanness, but continue to explain to your kids what you’re doing. Children often resist love when they need it the most.

To help you persevere in difficult relationships where you feel like you’re not making progress, consider Colossians 3:22–24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

When you try to go deeper in a relationship, you may not experience many rewards at first. Keep going, knowing you’re doing the right thing and pleasing the Lord. Look to him for approval instead of to the relationship for rewards. That provides inner strength to continue on even after you feel like quitting.

Communication in any relationship takes work. It’s nice when someone will listen to you and allow you to pour out your thoughts, hopes, and feelings. Listening is a servant task requiring concentrated effort and creativity to get around the barriers and mine fields that can come up. Do the hard work in this area, though, and you’ll see positive results.

For more ideas on developing building closeness and connecting with your child's heart, consider the bookParenting is Heart Work by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.