Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Teach Kids to Make Wise Decisions

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Look for ways to coach your children to make their own decisions or to think about how decisions should be made. You may even want to encourage cooperative decision-making when a child comes to ask for something.

Cooperative decision-making teaches children valuable skills of negotiation, compromise, communication, and creating alternatives. Mutual honor is demonstrated in the midst of cooperation.

How might you respond to this question: "Mom, will you take me to the store right now?"

Would you say, "No, I'm busy" or "Okay, let's go"? Those might be simple answers to the request but why not turn this into a cooperative learning experience about how we make such decisions.

Try saying, "Why don't you tell me more. I'm working on something right now. Let's work this out together."

Sometimes we make the error of emphasizing parental authority and other times we simply try to please our children. Neither is wrong but we might miss a valuable teaching opportunity.

Problem solving and decision-making become the garden where honor flourishes because children learn that the process is just as important as the end result. You can help children consider the ramifications of a particular decision. You might ask, "How will your brother feel if you do that?" Or, "I'm wondering how your friend feels when you eat a cookie in front of him."

Every problem we solve and decision we make has potential to show honor. Don't just tell kids what to do - ask questions. Sometimes there's nothing actually wrong with our decisions, but can we be more honoring? Great lessons are taught through cooperative decision-making.

For more practical ideas on developing honor in your family take a look at the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kidsby Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. We call it The Honor Book.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Real Issues are Harder to See

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
Parents who only focus on behavior change are devastated when their children reveal unresolved issues of the heart as they grow older. The child who is found stealing from the family, the teenager who gets caught drinking with friends, or the young person who starts using drugs have one thing in common: a heart problem that has developed over time.

The heart consists of thoughts, intentions, motivations, desires, and fantasies. Children play out foolishness in their hearts long before it comes out in their actions. Jesus tells us in Mark 7 of the evils that start in the heart before coming out in behavior. Many parents discipline with a two-step process. First, they see wrong behavior and second, they use a number of techniques to get their child to do what's right. Behavior is changed, but the heart isn't addressed. A better discipline process requires two more steps, making four altogether.

First, identify the wrong behavior. For example, your daughter begins to complain when you ask her to help with the dishes. Second, identify the dishonoring heart issue. Maybe it’s selfishness with her time, or a disrespect for authority. Third, identify the honoring heart issue needed. She could develop flexibility or thoughtfulness of others. Then, fourth, the right behavior grows out of the honoring heart issue. She could help with the dishes without complaining, or respectfully discuss an alternative. With these four steps, instead of two, you can address what's going on below the surface—a more complete discipline that teaches children about their hearts.

Giving a consequence isn’t the end of the parent's responsibility. Sometimes a consequence just gets the child's attention, allowing the parent then to address deeper heart-related issues. Talk about the underlying motivations and the deeper issues. Helping children change their hearts is harder, but that's where the lasting change takes place.

For more practical ideas on developing honor in your family take a look at the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kidsby Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. We call it The Honor Book.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Choose a Character Quality and Define It

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Another Parenting Tip from The National Center for Biblical Parenting…
When helping children grow and change, we want to be practical with them. That means that we give specific instructions about what we want them to do, not just what they shouldn't do. One way to be practical as we help children develop character is to use working definitions. We use these often in our counseling to help children understand life more clearly. Here are some examples, but you can be creative and think of many more.

Obedience is doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.

Honor is treating people as special, doing more than what's expected, and having a good attitude.

Perseverance is hanging in there even after you feel like quitting.

Attentiveness is showing people you love them by looking at them when they say their words.

Patience is waiting with a happy heart.

Self-discipline is putting off present rewards for future benefits.

Gratefulness is being thankful for the things I have instead of grumbling about the things I don't have.

In our new book, Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we say "A character quality is a pattern of thinking and acting in response to a challenge."

As you see the challenges your child faces, think about a character quality that will help that child face the challenge successfully. Then develop a definition specific for the need. Just choose one character quality that your child needs right now and teach how to put that character quality into practice. Post the definition around the house. This is a positive way to give kids a vision for what you want.

For more information about developing
 a strategy for change in your child, consider our newest book Motivate Your Child Action Plan by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

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.