I know it’s no longer PC to give children negative labels, but I’ll let you in on my 2nd dirty little secret. There have been nights where I’ve gone to bed asking the Lord why, why, why my children are so bad. I’ve even dreamed of sending them off on that big yellow bus. 1-year-old included.
Yet, I have learned that when I start feeling this way, the kids usually aren’t the problem. If you’re consistently having problems with your children’s behavior, try the following:
Meet the Need
I am not big on psychoanalyzing and excusing misbehavior in children, but if kids aren’t getting enough positive attention from their parents, they will take whatever attention they can get by whining, crying, bickering, throwing tantrums and being outright disobedient.
Simply being in the same house with our kids doesn’t mean we’re actually present with them. From blogs, message boards, Twitter and Facebook to smart phones and good, old-fashioned TV – there are so many things vying for our attention nowadays that we can easily fall into the trap of overlooking the needs of those who are most important to us.
If you constantly think about online activities when you’re not online, if you begin to feel irritable when you’ve gone too long without your computer, or if you can’t go a a full day without posting on your favorite message board, checking Facebook, reading blogs or playing games on your smart phone – your use of these tools has probably reached a level that is unhealthy.
Consider limiting use of your computer or smart phone to a specific time period. Turn your computer off during the day and place it in a location where it’s difficult to access. Place a sticky note, a photo of your children, or a Bible on top of your laptop as an extra reminder for you to leave it off. If you must use your computer during the day, use a timer like Leech Block that will block certain sites during specific time periods.
Homeschooling can be a lonely job, but we don’t have to look any further than those who are right in front of our faces in order to cure that problem. Our children’s love for us is not dependent on our wit, our debate skills, or our post counts, tweets and “likes.” We can win popularity contests right in our own homes every single day.
If you need to rebuild your relationship with your children, consider using some of these tools from The Five Love Languages of Children:
- Touch – Give frequent hugs, high fives and piggyback rides. Invite your child to sit on your lap, hold your hand, sit shoulder to shoulder and read silently, or cuddle up to read aloud.
- Words of Affirmation – Tell your children you love them and tell them what you love about them. Speak sincere words of praise many times a day.
- Quality Time – Read aloud to your children. Take walks with them. Play games, do art projects, do housework as a team, and eat 3 meals together every day.
- Gifts – You don’t have to break your budget in order to give your child gifts. Leave them handwritten notes, send cards in the mail, tie ribbon around hand-picked flowers or set a piece of candy beside their place at the table.
- Acts of Service – As parents, we serve our children daily. However, from time to time we can go the extra mile and bake cookies, make a favorite dinner, or help our children with chores for the day.
Follow this link to learn more about The Five Love Languages of Children.
Sometimes the “Need” is Discipline
Some of us have done both ourselves and our children a disservice by failing to teach them how to behave. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of children are capable of following directions, using good manners, helping around the house, treating others with respect and expressing themselves in a civilized manner.
Discussion of specific discipline techniques is beyond the scope of this blog, but my husband and I enjoyed reading Parenting by the Book by John Rosemond. This good, old-fashioned, common sense approach to child-rearing has been a good fit for our family. (Disclaimer: In order to fully appreciate Rosemond’s writing you need to have a high tolerance for dry wit.)
Respect Your Children’s Individuality
I recently discussed personality types in my post about the unhappy marriage, and I believe differences in personalities can also cause conflicts between parents and their children.
I learned very early on that I couldn’t treat each one of my children the same. A challenge that motivates one child can discourage another. A lecture that deeply convicts one child doesn’t phase another. One child wants sits and reads all day, while another isn’t still unless he’s sleeping. One child finishes a sporting event and says, “How did I do, Mom?” while another leaves saying, “I was the best, wasn’t I?”
Dr. Rohm sums it up nicely in this video about his daughters:
Know and appreciate your children for who they are. Don’t get frustrated with them for being childish. Don’t make them feel stupid when they make mistakes. Don’t force them into a mold that doesn’t fit in order to feed your ego.
Meet their needs for love and discipline, and respect them for being the unique individuals God created them to be.