Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Parenting with a Purpose: Prepare for Success

Welcome to day 3 of my parenting series!

In my intro I explained why I decided to do Parenting with a Purpose and meet the other bloggers who I have joined forces with in this Intentional Living blog series. 
On Day 1, Kids will Do as they See I share ideas of how we can encourage our children to make a relationship with God their own, not just Mommy's God, but their God.
On Day 2, A Change Refreshes, I share 12 TIPS for changing up our days, you will find fun, cheap and creative activities you can do with your children to keep those little minds and hands busy.

As parents we want to prepare our children for success in all things.  I think it can be easy to forget they aren't adults.  My husband says "I have to remember, I can't put a 30 year old head on a 5 year old body."  In other words, we can't expect our 5 year old to know how to act like a 30 year old all the time. Our children are learning and need a lot of reminding and training.  I wanted to share some ideas with my you today on ways we can be intentional in gearing our kids up for victory in life.

Role playing.  To get our kids ready for tough situations it is incredibly helpful to play out the circumstance before it happens. For instance say "What would you do if a little boy at the park fell down and got hurt and kids started making fun of him?"  See how they would answer that, then tweak and encourage their responses to what the correct reaction would look like.  This can be anything from how to handle peer pressure, stranger awareness,  bullying....ect.  I have to share this story of my brother in law, Jason, doing this with his son Jadon (6 at the time).  Jason said "If a stranger offers you candy and asks them to get in the car to get it, never take it.  What should you do if something like that happens?"  Jadon responded with "Oh Dad!  I would never get in the car, I would run away, but I would yell back 'Just throw the candy in the yard.' "  Ha ha ha!  Kids are so funny!  If you haven't tried this yet, be sure to make a regular habit of posing training questions and take the chance to teach before a situation happens.  I got this idea from my good friend Holly, see HER POST on this topic for more ideas.

Ask questions that promote thinking things through.  I read a great article by Lysa Terkhurst, of Proverbs 31 ministries, of how she taught her kids to think for themselves.  I recommend checking it out.  One thing I really loved is that instead of telling her kids "No texting while driving." she had them come to dinner with a small report on the dangers of texting while driving.  The kids not only learned what the wrong behavior was, but why it is bad for them to go against the rule.  Brilliant!  I am starting to pose questions to my kids that make them come to a conclusion, with rules and basic instructions like "What could happen if you touched the stove while mommy is cooking?" or "Hey, it's cold outside and we are going out in the snow, what should you put on?"  What this does is promote our children to begin thinking for themselves, less rules and commands, and the cool thing is, they think it is their idea!

Reminder of expectations.  I recently took my kids to the library, it was the most stressful trip ever!  I called my friend and told her what happened, practically in tears.  She empathized with me, having experienced a similar circumstance, then gave me a great piece of advice:  "Now, the next time you go.." (Of course I was thinking: Oh, there is NOT going to be a next time, the library is dead to me.) "I recommend you lay out your expectations of them before you go in.  And if they don't comply, immediately leave."  You see the first time I went, we just stopped by, and I did not even talk to them before we went inside about what was the correct way to behave in a library and what I expected of them.  I decided to try it, and guess what?  Smooth as butterscotch pudding!  They were amazing when they knew what to do.  My sister in law, Heidi over at Dearly Loved Mist, told me she reminds her kids in the car every time they go anywhere of what the proper behavior is.  EVERY TIME.  They talk in the car before they go out to eat, come to Grandmas, go to church, friend's houses....EVERY TIME, and let me tell you her kids are always well behaved!  For success in public, I think preparation and reminding plays a major role, and that falls to us as moms and dads.  It may take 2 extra minutes to explain, but it will save on time and stress in the long run.

The Source of strength.  We ask God to be strong where we are weak, shouldn't we teach our kids to do the same?  We can't be every where with our kids at all times, but God can, trust Him with your little ones and ask Him to go before and cover them with His protection and guide them.  One thing we try to remind our kids of: "Don't say you can do it, say by God's grace I can do it."  Encourage them to ask for His help.  We can do all things through Christ right?  Let's start teaching them young, that the impossible becomes possible when God is involved, sometimes we simply need to ask.  Remind them: when you don't know the answer, what to do, don't have the strength to say no: ask God for help!

Training with rewards.  I don't know how you potty trained, but we had much success when m&ms were offered as a reward for no accidents.  Now, I don't think you should have to bribe your kids for anything, but offering a reward here and there to form a habit can be a helpful tool.  One thing I did to train my kiddos to come when I called them was positive reinforcement...aka jelly beans.  I played a game for a few days of going in another room and calling my childrens' names.  When they came I would give them one jelly bean.  We  played it over and over, sometimes giving out candy, sometimes not.  They never knew if they were going to get a reward, but always came to see.  I did this for a few days and randomly throughout the course of the day I would play our little game.  By the end of our "training" I was no longer handing out candy, but every time I called they came.  They got conditioned to immediately responding to me calling them with a reward and it worked wonders.  I haven't tried this in other areas, but I am sure you can get creative and do some training sessions with rewards until the habit is formed.  I got this idea from Growing Kids God's Way.

I hope you are inspired to plan for the success of your family.  With training, reminding, posing the right questions and pointing them to the one who provides the strength for victory we can lead our children to hopefully make the right choices in life.  And, as always pray pray pray!  

So what do you do? What questions do you ask and what have you found to work in your family for preparing kids to be successful in situations?  I am always all ears for new ideas!!

See how other bloggers are inspiring us to live intentionally with all kinds of topics: