by Tamara Eaton
Picture this scene: It's fall and homeschool parents are filled with great ideas to start off the new school year! They have goals, new materials and can't wait to get started. Chores are divided up so that everyone shares the burden of caring for the home. Expectations are high-- learning together will be fun! Only one problem...there is a child who is not being cooperative!
He is whiny, drags out all his assignments and tries to get out of his chores. After 21 days, he appears to have formed a habit of ruining not only his own day, but everyone else's, too. What this child needs is drastic behavior modification! But how is the best way to do this? By now, the whole atmosphere of the home is suffering. Mom finds herself dreaming of boarding school, while Dad daydreams of military boot camps, but obviously, neither choice is God's best for their little darling.
Realizing they are partly responsible by not being consistent in their child training, the parents attempt to change everything overnight. Failure results because not only is the child totally overwhelmed, but the parents can't keep up with being consistent! It's all too much! Sometimes it does help to "get tough" and require even MORE if an older child has a bad attitude and poor work habits. However, I believe a "building block" strategy is usually more effective, especially for young children. After so many struggles, it's easy to fall into the trap of viewing your child in a negative light which results in more troubles--a vicious circle.
That's why I think it's so important to get down to the very foundation-- taking time to reach your child's heart, praying with the child and explaining to him that you're going to both trust the Lord to forgive him for past behavior and to give him a fresh slate, a new start.
Don't plan any extra activities, stop all lesson assignments for a few days (however long it takes) and work on basic attitudes. Start building good habits, one "block" at a time, *slowly* adding new areas. This gives the child an opportunity to start afresh, forming good habits and a new positive attitude!
This is training time but MAKE IT EASY for him at first! Don't require too much, but be consistent in all you require. Work on one area at a time. For example, if you want to teach the child to listen to instructions and obey immediately, you should clearly give him a reasonable amount of instructions, a little at a time, then make sure they are carried out. Cheerfully teach him how it should be done. Demonstrate doing your work as unto the Lord!
Make sure your expectations are reasonable. Don't be overly critical, remember that children are not miniature adults. (And after all, even adults aren't perfect!)
In How to Raise Your Children for Christ, Andrew Murray talks about allowing God's love to reign in our homes. He said:
"Let father and mother lead a life marked by love to God and man; this is the atmosphere in which loving children can be trained. Let all the dealings with the children be in holy love. Cross words, sharp reproof, impatient answers are infectious. Love demands and fears not self-sacrifice; time and thoughtful attention and patient perseverance are needed to train our children aright."
Have we become so exasperated that we've fallen into the trap of being harsh, unkind, angry, provoking to wrath? Or are we calmly, kindly, lovingly teaching and training our children to obey us in all things because this is the way God has ordained? Oh that we would all seek Him for wisdom in bringing up our children in the ways of the Lord.
We can look to our Heavenly Father as a perfect example! Psalm 103 gives some beautiful instances of how God deals with His children--
* He forgives us
* He crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies
* He gives us good things
* He executes righteousness and justice
* He makes known His Ways
* He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy
* He pities those who fear Him, just as a father pities His children
* He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust
There are many other references in Scripture that portray a loving Heavenly Father who doesn't allow a temptation too great for us, and who doesn't overwhelm us with too much at once, but considers what we can handle and helps us overcome by encouraging us and giving us hope and confidence that we CAN be what He wants us to be if we yield ourselves to Him.
In conclusion, I'd suggest:
1. Make this child's behavior your #1 priority, limiting or eliminating other activities until this is resolved.
2. PRAY ! Seek the Lord for wisdom, talk to your child about his problem and tell him that Jesus wants to help Him overcome these things and you do, too, and you're there to help him. Pray with him and for him. Pray that your child's heart will be softened and that he might be strengthened to yield to the Lord instead of flesh.
3. Seek the Lord concerning any areas in which He wants to change YOU. I'm always amazed at how often when I've had a problem with one of the children, the Lord has pointed out things I've done, or left undone which have made the situation worse. Oh how blessed we are to have Him as Counselor!
4. Make some POSITIVE plans each day. Spend as much time as you can with your child doing interesting and fun things! These positive experiences help him overcome the habit of negative behavior. Demonstrate your deep unconditional love for him, be uplifting and positive! Look for things to praise, honestly.
5. Have a family meeting and set up the household rules, or go over them if you've already made them. Let the child know the consequences if he should disobey. Be firm. Be consistent. Be loving!
Your child may very well test you in this area from time to time if this has been a ongoing battle and you have not been consistent in the past. In fact, sometimes children will test even when you have been consistent! You just have to continue to be steadfast and trust the Lord for the results...NEVER give up or give in! Make certain your requirements are right and reasonable, then be firm. Eventually, you will see good fruit and joy will be restored to your home once more!
"Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." --Proverbs 29:17
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" --Philippians 1:6
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world..." --Philippians 2:13 -15
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