Parenting can be a pretty tricky job. Every treasure has his or her own set of issues. They have their own strengths and their own weaknesses. And although all my treasures are extremely close together, I still find myself forgetting and having to retrain myself in how to deal with situations with each child and each stage.
Little Reesie has developed this super yucky attitude over the past few weeks! It's seriously not my favorite. But it has brought some good things back to the forefront of my mind that I have not thought about in awhile.
I have been thinking about how much of parenting starts with me. It's starts with training myself... training myself before I even attempt to begin training my children. I have to ask myself brutally honest questions like, "Is she picking up on that attitude because of an attitude that she's seeing modeled by me?" Or, "How is my tone? Am I speaking in a tone that's worthy of being mimicked?" Or "When I am disciplining my little Reesie, is my heart in the right place? Am I doing it because I'm angry and annoyed at her actions and attitudes, or am I doing it because I am passionate about her heart and am concerned that what's in her heart is not only not a blessing towards others but neither is it a blessing for herself."
Once I can truthfully answer these kind of questions, I then have to figure out how on earth I'm going to retrain this heart problem in this child. Not only I have forgotten what I did with Siah and Hal at this age to change this behavior but I wonder if the reason that I forget with each kid is because it's God' way of showing me that I need to come up with a new approach to really get into this treasure's heart with this situation?
I honestly have no idea what I did with Siah and Hal when they started pitching fits and making a really ugly, grouchy face, and crossing their little pudgy arms when I asked them to do something. If I ask Reesie to put her baby away because it's time to do something else, She'll stiffen her body, chuck her baby across the room, and then glare at me with a nasty look combined with a "what are you going to do about it" look. This happens several times a day.
I know that the key for every kid no matter the situation, is consistency. If I am going to bother training her heart to respond differently to my commands then I have to be committed to teaching her until her heart has softened and her behavior has changed. Let me confess that with the task of being consistent with three small treasures, it is a HUGE challenge for me to make this commitment. But a wise friend so graciously encouraged me that this commitment to consistency could possibly be the most important commitment that I have at this stage in my life. So if that means that I am going to be late getting out the door, or that I have to hang up the phone with a friend, in order to follow through with the discipline action that I have begun with Reesie, then those are the things that I must give up in order to be consistent.
A few of the steps that I have decided to take with Reesie's current heart issue have caused me to think ahead. When I know that we are have to go somewhere within the hour and that I am probably going to come face to face with Reesie's attitude, I give myself some extra time. I check my own heart and pray that the Lord will allow my words, my tone, and my actions to be pleasing to Him. Then, I start to make my requests of her a half hour before we need to leave. I make my expectations of her very clear. And I make sure that she knows exactly what's going to happen if she chooses to have a poor heart attitude towards me or any other family member.
Thus begins the process...
This morning was a perfect example of what I have been spending so much of my time doing. I had a doctor's appointment this morning and I took all three kids with me. We had to leave the house at 9:30am. At 9:00 I warned Reesie that we were going to clean up and put our shoes on in 5 minutes. I encouraged her that when it was time to clean up she needed to respond to Mommy JOYFULLY. I asked her if she understood my words and she responded joyfully, "yes Mama." Then I reminded her that if she did not respond joyfully, of exactly what the consequence would be. I asked her again if she understood my words. She responded joyfully again, "yes Mama."
Then five minutes later came around. I told her it was time to clean up. She stiffened her little body, chucked the toy that she had in hand across the room, threw herself on the floor and began whining. My heart sunk with disappointment... But I quickly walked over to her. Picked her up off the floor. Swiftly but calmly gave her that consequence that I had promised her if she had made that choice. Then joyfully explained my expectations once again. Then explained that the consequence would be double the next time. Then joyfully asked her for the second time to clean up her toys.
Within the next ten minutes, this whole scenario happened six more times. Each time I spoke joyfully, followed through with consequence, and restated my expectations. Then gave her another opportunity to respond to me correctly.
Finally, the sixth time came around. And after another joyful command out of my mouth, Reesie dried up her tears, got a smile on her face, and joyfully put the rest of her toys away. Then, on her own, found her shoes and asked me to help her put them on.
Let me just say out loud that the process is NO fun! Often times, half way through, I begin to question myself. I begin to doubt that what I'm doing is working. I wonder whether or not the consequence that I chose for this particular child is the right one or the wrong one. But then... in time... there's fruit. My treasures are very young, but they are very very smart. I have discovered that often times they comprehend way more than I give them credit for. Training their hearts takes A LOT of time. But I can genuinely say that there is not much else that I would rather be doing at this point in my life.
Siah is five now. I can totally see the fruit from all the time that we have spent over the past four years with him, patiently training his heart. He's a kid. He still gets an attitude here and there. I know there will always be seasons where issues flare up... but the foundation with Siah has been laid. He can trust me. Consistency is so much more than just changing a behavior. It has built trust between Josiah and I. He knows that I mean what I say and I say exactly what I mean. He still has the option to disobey, and sometimes he still chooses that option. But guess what, I'm 30, and sometimes I still choose that option with the Lord. But the gift that the Lord has given me, and the gift that I hope to give to my children is one of trust. Knowing that I have the freedom to be foolish only makes my foolishness more foolish. Although Reesie might not be able to have a philosophical conversation with me about what it means to be wise verses what it means to be foolish, I believe with my whole heart that we are laying a foundation for her. That even as early as two years old, she can begin to understand that it is much better to be wise than to be foolish.
Some verses that we have been repeating a lot around here are...
For the kiddos...
"I will hurry, WITHOUT lingering to obey your commands." Psalm 119:60
" The WISE in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruins." Proverbs 10:8
For Mama and Papa...
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." Proverbs 29:11
"The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law!" Galatians 2:20
The word of God is my greatest tool as a mom. His word has given me everything I need for life and godliness! EVERYTHING!!! Including being a mom to my precious treasures.
Lord, how I need your wisdom, your grace, your kind and gentle words, to daily fill my heart, so much so that it overflows out of me and splashes onto the children that you have so generously entrusted me with. Thank you Lord for being with me each step of the way as I waddle my way through parenting!