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Friday, June 27, 2014

Teaching Your Child to Have a Quiet Time

(Today's post is by guest blogger, Delores Liesner, from Racine, WI. I saw a Facebook post she wrote about teaching her kids to have a daily quiet time with Jesus and thought it might be something you would enjoy as well.)

Even into adulthood, it was a challenge for me, a rather hyper personality, to sit still, even for a few minutes. I felt like a baby, taking little steps to get to know God’s voice and His character. Quiet times spent in prayer and reading my Bible calmed me, though, and I often spoke of them to our toddler saying things like, “Mommy is happy because she talked to Jesus this morning in her quiet time.” This way she understood that my behavior and attitude was being guided and changed by a quiet time with God. 

I wished I’d been taught this when I was a child, so I determined that our children would know the peace of spending time with God. It was actually quite simple.

A kitchen timer, a playpen, and a child-size picture Bible book enabled teaching our toddler the self-discipline of having a quiet time.  I’d set the timer, first for one minute, announcing that we were going to have a quiet time and talk to Jesus. I showed her my quiet-time book (my Bible) and sat quietly in her view, reading until the timer went off. The time was increased by a minute for five days, then it remained at five minutes for a week. 

Next, I told my daughter that Mommy was going to have her quiet time in her room. I turned on the timer and moved out of her line of vision.  As the daily quiet time increased to seven minutes, and finally the fourth week, to ten minutes, I alternated being in and out of the room for quiet times. When in the room, told her if she finished her quiet time first, she could continue to play quietly till Mommy was done. 

In addition to teaching respect for a quiet time, and imprinting the importance of personal time with Jesus, our daughter quickly learned to read and play quietly.

It took only a month, and I found our quiet times had more of an affect than I imagined. One day I was irritable and three-year-old Laurie looked up and asked, “Mommy, didn’t you have a quiet time today?” 

Do your children have a quiet time? How did you start it? What guidelines do you have in place for it?

Friday, June 20, 2014

"I Don't Like You!"

While in an airport restroom last week I overheard the following conversation between a sweet, patient mom (SPM) and someone who I assume was her crying, travel-weary toddler (TWT). The mom never once lost her cool or her kind voice with the little one.

SPM: Sit up on the potty.
TWT: I caaaannn't!
SPM: Yes, you can.
TWT: No, I caaann't.
SPM: Are you hungry?
TWT: Noooo. I need a driiinnnk.
SPM:  OK. We'll get you a drink as soon as we finish going potty.
TWT: Noooo. I caaann't!
SPM: It will just take a minute. I know you can.
Silence. Flush.
SPM: Good job. Let's wash your hands.
TWT (still crying): I can't wash my hands!
SPM: Come on. I'll help you. Rub your hands together.
TWT: I don't like you!
SPM: I know you don't.

Hearing this conversation made me smile. It was so classic. I remember like yesterday the sting of those last words, but I don't know a parent who hasn't heard them, and if they haven't they're in the minority. All parents are disliked by their children at some point and it doesn't take long for them to be able to voice it. I mean, really, this toddler was already experiencing those feelings!

The "I don't like you" line can be offered in many different forms. My youngest daughter used to tell me, "You're not my friend anymore!" On good days I usually replied, "That's OK. I'm not here to be your friend. I'm here to be your mother. But I hope we'll be friends again." But there were other days that it took everything in me to not spout back, "I don't want to be your friend either! I don't like you!" Emotions run high when parents are exasperated and tired. 

So what's the point? The point is, don't take these verbal assaults personally. It's part of the parenting territory. Those little people you're raising have emotions just as real as yours. They just don't have the finesse to deal with them properly yet. It's a parent's job to respect their children's feelings, while still teaching them to be respectful and kind. Sounds impossible, but it isn't. 

So how should you respond when your child says he doesn't like you or even hates you? Here are a few suggestions.
  1. Evaluate the overall situation. Is your child overly tired? Stressed? Stimulated? If so, cut him some slack and sympathize, as the parent in the airport bathroom did. Then try to meet the real need for sleep, calm, or less stimulation.
  2. Say, "I know you're angry, but in our family we still love each other, even if we're angry." This helps your child sort out his emotions and put proper names to them. Anger doesn't equal hate.
  3. If he can't calm down, or keeps screaming hateful things, remove him from the room and place him in time out. Play soothing music or something else that may help him calm down. After he's relaxed enough that you can converse with him, explain that you understand he was angry, but that it's never kind to tell someone you don't like them because it hurts their feelings. Brainstorm other ways they can express their anger or frustration without hurting people's feelings.
  4. Tell your child that you get angry, too, but that you never want to say things that make him feel sad. Apologize if you know you have said unkind things to your child and ask his forgiveness. And really, who hasn't? Set an example for your child showing him he can apologize when he makes mistakes, too. 
Bottom line, it isn't the end of the world if your child says he hates you. It's an angry moment. It will pass and you know it isn't true. Try not to overreact. Use it as a teaching moment. Keep loving your child unconditionally and your relationship will move beyond this stage before you know it. 

Has your child said he doesn't like you? What was your best response?