Discourage Procrastination

Source: procrastinus.com

On Monday, I discussed the importance of modeling positive behaviors for our children. If we want them to act or think a certain way, we need to do so ourselves. One area where this proves fruitful is with procrastination. This, clearly, is something we want to discourage in our children.

Procrastination is a learned trait. It’s also a selfish trait. When we procrastinate, we think that the fun things we want to do are more important than the things that are required to keep a healthy, harmonious home. We may lounge on the couch reading a trashy novel while the dishes pile up in the kitchen. Or we may get sucked into the Internet, spending a little too much time on mindless activities and social media platforms.

No matter our vice, the idea is that we aren’t doing what we should be doing. We are putting pleasures ahead of work or personal growth. Our priorities are off.

While modeling the opposite of procrastination is important, it’s also important to encourage it in our children. Before they run off to play, stop for a minute to see what work needs to be done. I make this a habit in my home. Before I allow my kids any kind of pleasure, I have them look around to see what needs to be cleaned up. Before they are allowed to play on a device, they must make sure all of their school work is done and that all toys are put away. Before we read in bed at night, we take a minute to make sure their rooms are clean.

I also try to put this behavior on my children’s shoulders instead of owning it for them. If they ask to play on the iPad, I ask them to show me that they are ready to do so. I don’t specifically list all of the things that need to be done. A simple reminder is all that’s needed, and they’ll go off and take care of it.

If we can discourage our children of procrastination when they’re young, it will serve them well far into the future. I remember in college, I had classmates who would pull all-nighters before a test or to get a paper written. I never understood it. I dutifully got my work done ahead of time, and I’m sure my grades were better off because of it.

The power of not procrastinating is that you never have to feel guilty when indulging in something pleasurable. It’s never fun to hang out on Facebook when dishes are piled up. But if the house is clean and all other work has been done, then our pleasures are that much more pleasant! The same holds true with our children, so start today to teach them so!

Entitlement

Source: shine.yahoo.com

There’s a big problem in our world these days with people acting as though they’re entitled to the best things in life. It’s gone so far that Generation Y has been renamed by some as the Entitled Generation. It’s said that people of this generation buy things they can’t afford, put personal matters above professional ones, disrespect their elders, and have no desire to set down roots.

Of course, this is a sweeping generalization, but what exactly does entitlement mean and what can we do to ensure our children don’t become entitled? At the root of entitled behavior is selfishness. Put simply, those who feel entitled think only of themselves. It’s all about me, me, me and instant gratification.

The first step in ridding our children of this ugly characteristic is to first recognize it. You may not want to admit it, but if you see entitlement in your children, recognize it first and then come up with a plan to address it.

From a big-picture parenting perspective, entitled kids grow up with parents who do everything for them. I can see how this is tempting. When we become parents, our children are often the focus of our world. The Ezzos warn us of child-centered parenting, which is easy to understand intellectually. But at the same time, when you are running your kids from piano lessons and soccer games to Kumon and gymnastics, it becomes very easy to build your life around your child. It’s easy to justify this because you are doing what you believe to be the best thing for your child.

And I’m not saying that children shouldn’t have activities outside the home. It’s just that they should see that mom and dad have a life, too. We don’t live our lives simply to please our children.

What’s ironic is that in an attempt to create enriched, smart, sporty kids — what we believe is the best they can be — we may actually be doing more harm than good. It’s all fine when a child is a soccer super-star and still respects his elders. But if a child is a soccer super-star at the expense of important moral values, then something somewhere has gone horribly wrong.

And it runs deeper than the activities our children are in. Entitlement ultimately comes down to parents giving their children everything they want and doing everything for them. School is their job, we say to ourselves, so they don’t need to take out the trash. They’re so busy practicing piano, we say, that we shouldn’t require them to unload the dishwasher. Homework is more important, we say, so we pick their clothes up off the floor for them. We may even put such a high price on grades that we do their homework for them — in the guise of “help.”

This extends outside the house, too. If a child is shy, we’ll order their meal for them at a restaurant. If a boy is bouncing in his seat in a restaurant, we excuse his behavior, saying he’s all boy. If a child goes so far as to hit another child, we let the child run off and say that he’s going through a phase. We do whatever we can to excuse or perpetuate poor behaviors.

When a child is raised with parents like this, it’s no wonder he’ll grow up to feel entitled. When he’s been given everything he’s ever needed or wanted without having to work for it, and when his poor behaviors and attitudes are excused, he will of course feel like the world should revolve around him.

One of the best things we can do as parents to ensure our kids don’t grow up to be entitled is to encourage self-sufficiency. If we encourage them to do for themselves and gain some independence, then they will grow up to believe that they have to work for whatever it is they want. They will grow up to believe that their parents don’t exist to fulfill their every desire.

Picky Eaters

William eating sushi

William eating sushi

Do you have a picky eater? If you’re unsure, you don’t. Those of us who have picky eaters cannot deny that we do. There’s no question. Raising a picky eater is no easy task. But as with many things in parenting, it comes down to training.

Lucas is my picky eater. William is decidedly not a picky eater. At the right are a couple pictures of William eating food that many picky eaters wouldn’t even consider touching (sushi and steak salad). I’m thankful that he’s not picky because he’s my child who has the most food issues. He has a slew of food intolerances and blood sugar instability that might be diagnosed as hypoglycemia. With his restrictions, he cannot live on pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like many picky eaters do.

William eating steak salad

William eating steak salad

I’m lucky that my youngest is my picky eater. William has taught me that kids can eat a wide variety of foods. I was a picky eater as a kid, and my mom would typically make me new food when I refused to eat. So I’m sure if my oldest was a picky eater, I would have done the same. But after seeing William eat everything from broccoli to lentil soup, I knew that Lucas was perfectly capable of eating these foods, too.

I remember when Lucas was still sitting in a high chair, I always made it a point to put a green vegetable on his tray. At first, I didn’t ask him to eat it. I just wanted him to see it. Most days, he would move it away and put it in the tray’s cup holder. He wasn’t shy about the fact that he had no intentions of eating it. But I kept putting it there, day after day. Whatever green veggie we were eating, I put one small piece on his tray. We ate spinach salad quite a bit back then, so I usually put one small leaf. Well, my plan worked. After time, he decided that it wasn’t so scary after all. He eventually started taking small bites, and years later, he’s now to the point where he’ll happily eat a whole serving of green vegetables.

Some might say that given this experience Lucas isn’t truly a picky eater. I do believe that picky eaters are born, not made. I recognized this the first time Lucas would take in a bite of a casserole and filter out the meat so he could spit it out. But I also believe that parents have the power to change their kids’ picky eating habits. We don’t need to simply throw up our hands and say there’s nothing we can do.

There’s also something to be said about food intolerances and picky eating. Typically, when we have a food intolerance, we tend to crave that food. So if a child doesn’t tolerate wheat, she may want to eat nothing but pasta and bread. It sounds counterintuitive, but when we don’t tolerate a food, it creates an opiate effect in the brain. It’s a drug! If a child eats a food that doesn’t feed that opiate craving, they want nothing to do with it. They will get to the point where they’ll eat nothing but the foods they crave. I’ve had a few friends who I’ve described this to, and a couple were completely fearful of the idea of eliminating the food the child craves. They said that the child would eat nothing! Kids are smart. They won’t starve themselves. I have one friend who heard my advice, and after eliminating wheat, her daughter got so healthy and made great strides in social and physical development.

The other reason I believe that parents can change their picky eaters is that many kids often decide to stop being so picky because they see that their siblings eat well. I have a friend whose oldest is a picky eater. After little sister came along and showed her brother that she could eat well and there was nothing scary about it, he got better.

If you have a picky eater, I have a few words of advice:

1) Your first goal should be to not make special food. Always feed the child something you know he will like (e.g., plain rice along with the chicken he doesn’t like), but never make a new meal. The child should eat what the family eats. With the one food you know he will eat, he won’t starve.

2) Eat together as a family. If he sees that everyone he knows and loves eats this food, he’ll be more inclined to eat.

3) With foods that the child finds particularly distasteful, simply put them on his plate day after day, but don’t require him to eat. Encourage him, but don’t require him.

4) Limit the child’s liquid intake before a meal. Lucas used to fill up on milk or water to avoid having to eat what we were serving.

5) Use dips to your advantage. Kids like to dip, and if ketchup helps cover up the taste, so be it. Let him.

6) While you’re working on his picky habits, talk to his doctor about nutrients. Find out if you need to supplement calcium or any other vitamin.

7) Don’t tell other people, within the child’s earshot, that he’s a picky eater. The more you validate it, the more he’ll live up to the label. Convince him that he’s capable of eating any food.

So trust that all hope is not lost with picky eaters. Train your child to eat well in the same way that you would teach him to read. Take it slowly and be patient. Every child is capable of breaking habits, which is exactly what picky eating is. Help him overcome his picky eating ways, and he’ll thank you for it when he’s an adult.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a picky eater. Have you found any other tactics that work?

Sibling and Gender Relationships

Source: Thomaslife

By Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom

My husband grew up with an older brother. I have step-siblings but grew up mostly with a younger brother. Now my husband and I have a son and daughter.  We all have very different opinions and takes on the advantages and disadvantages to our sibling relationships. I find birth order and gender relationships very intriguing. My favorite book on this topic is The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman, a great author for all things from discipline to potty training to spicing up your marriage. According to Dr. Leman, most comedians are the youngest children in their families, and 21 out of the first 23 astronauts on the moon were first-born children. (The other two were only children). His book is unique in that he discusses many other variables than just nominal birth order.

Although not specific to parents following the Babywise series, I find that it is all too easy for us to make excuses based on the gender of our children. We focus on schedules, independent play, even first-time obedience but we don’t always think twice about saying, “Well, he is just being a boy!” Yes, there are strong gender differences and traits. Yes, I really do think birth order and spacing can explain some of our personality traits, but the last thing I think we should do is overlook behavior predominantly because it is typical for that gender. On the other hand, I think we also have to be very careful not to define our children by their birth order nor try to treat them all the same.

Let me give you an example. My son has extremely typical traits of a first-born. Perfectionist, achiever, articulate, logical, scholarly. Add in that his primary love language is words of affirmation. Bathing the two kids together was becoming a nightmare. There were more fights the second I turned my back or sometimes before they could even climb in the tub. We came down hardest on our son…he’s the oldest, he should know better, he should treat his sister better. It turns out, she was the one picking a fight with him. She had learned we would start with him and criticize him first. We have also learned how harshly he takes criticism. Taking him aside and talking to him away from the heat of the moment is so important. It often takes 4-5 kind words of praise to undo 1 harsh phrase of criticism.

On the flip side, our daughter is quite emotional with feelings dripping off her sleeves. She cries when she is tired, when she wakes up, when she first sits down for snack, when she doesn’t like the snack choice, when you look at her funny, and so forth. It has been quite a new adventure for my husband who is still learning female nuances after 10 years of marriage. Consoling her is a fine line. There are times where I see the look in her eyes and know immediately that she just needs a hug…and to cry. There are times when the crying is so ridiculous and out of control that she needs firm love and direction to pull herself together. She is a girl and needs to be approached in a specific manner; however, we will not, nor have not, changed the way we handle temper tantrums or sour attitudes “just because she is a girl.”

It has also been fun to watch the dynamics between a sister and brother. While I am used to some of the differences in growing up with a sibling of a different gender, I was the typical first-born and my baby brother was the youngest. I still give him a hard time for all of the times I remember taking the heat for being old enough to know better when really he had gotten away with something! It is an easy trap to miss. It is a little more confusing when you have to add gender differences to the sibling order. All the same, there are some general rules that I think fall in line with the -wise mentality.

  1. Boys do need a lot of physical time to use their energy, even to wrestle. They also need to know the boundaries between appropriate hard play and out of control roughhousing. Practice, practice, practice.
  2. Boys often need more preparation to sit still and focus on topics other than their favorite subject.
  3. Boys need to learn how to treat mommies, sisters, and other girls. Have your son practice serving his sister first at supper. I fully believe boys should learn courtesy at home first.
  4. Boys also need ways to learn how to handle their anger. There is nothing like watching a boy go from zero to sixty, revved up, swinging, and looking for something to knock down. Teach your son that it is okay to be angry but he needs to find words to express that and other ways to let the steam off. Even if it comes down to giving him a pillow he can squeeze or punch, it is way better than him raging so out of control he hurts someone else, himself, or breaks something. We’ve even had to practice how to handle being hurt. His first tendency is to jump up and down, and he’s had to learn the hard way that he will hurt himself even worse.
  5. Girls do need to cry…a lot sometimes. Not all, but practicing how to gain control over emotions with daughters is usually very different than sons. I find our son to be very angry but logical if he is upset. Our daughter is just hysterical, in pieces, over something we would consider trivial. Teaching her how to regain control of herself and calm down has been a monumental task some days.
  6. Girls need to find beauty on the inside…and this absolutely has to start at home. While pretend play is excellent and extremely important, make sure she hears how beautiful she is even when she is not dressed up as a princess.
  7. Look for natural tendencies in your children, whether it is gender related or birth order related or neither. There are times I have allowed one child to stay inside and read because that is one of her most favorite activities in life. There are times I have bathed one child because the other does not find it nearly as relaxing or therapeutic. There are also times where the instruction/rule was that it was bath night–no exceptions. While our “rules” are the same, we still allow a lot of time for each child to be an individual.
  8. Things that I believe should not be exceptions because of gender are hitting, kicking, temper tantrums, screaming, rudeness. All of these seem obvious but in the actual situation make sure that you have an exit strategy already planned. By that I mean, know the planned consequence and carry it out even if you think the behavior was natural for a boy or girl in that situation.
  9. Things that I believe should be be exceptions because of birth order are always coming down harder on an older child “just because” they are older. Teach them responsibility and rules, not exceptions based on a younger age. Do not overlook younger age because “they might not understand.” As a mother of a VERY cognitively-smart but speech-delayed child, do not ever underestimate all that they might understand. Keep the rules and expectations the same even if you have to modify explanation or approach.

Bethany blogs at The Graceful Mom about life as a working mom outside of the home and adores coming home to her husband and children, ages 5 and 3.

When Nobody Is Watching…

Source: markmerrill.com

I just saw an inspiring post on the CFH Babywise and Beyond Facebook page that says this:

“Teach your children to have integrity…to do the right thing even when no one is watching.”

I love this thought. And I love the idea that the Ezzos teach us to instill integrity into our children. When we teach them the moral reason behind the behavior we expect (beginning no later than age 3), they are more likely to internalize these behaviors. And when they internalize these behaviors and the moral reasons behind them, they are more likely to act appropriately even when nobody is watching.

I see this in my own children. When we’re in a restaurant and I take the time to explain that other people want to enjoy their meal and not be disturbed by children, they sit up straight and look around at the people around us. It’s very different from the times that I tell them to act in a certain way just because I expect it. When they know there’s a reason that goes beyond my expectations, they are much more likely to comply.

This comment from the CFH page also serves as a warning to legalistic parents. If “because I said so” is a common theme in your home, you may get different behaviors when no one is watching. If mom and dad aren’t around to serve as an external reinforcer because the child has no internal motivations, the child may act as he pleases.

I’m reminded of a family I babysat for when I was a teenager. This family made the rounds through all the babysitters I knew (me, my sister, my neighbor, etc.). Honestly, nobody wanted to babysit for this family because the two little girls were little hellions. One time when I was babysitting them, I was chasing after one girl while the other dumped the whole jar of fish food into the fish tank. They were about 4 and 6 years old, so they were old enough to know better.

My babysitter friends and I concluded that they acted like this because they were so stifled by their super strict parents. One minute of freedom away from the parents, and they were a disaster. The parents were so strict that they required the girls to wear headbands (spiky ones!) to bed. It’s clear to me that these girls had no internal motivation to behave; they certainly weren’t internalizing the behaviors their parents insisted upon.

I hired a babysitter recently, and I’m thankful she said my boys were sweet. In fact, I’ve never had a nanny or sitter complain about my boys’ behaviors, even despite William’s sensory issues. I think my boys understand why I expect them to behave in a certain way, and they comply even when I’m not around.

So the next time you have a chance, try to spy on your child. Does he play nicely? Do his imaginary friends share and treat each other with respect? Does he watch over his baby sibling? See if he has internalized the moral integrity you expect. See how he behaves when no one is watching.

Holiday Behavior Problems?

Source: favim.com

How was Thanksgiving? Did your children handle the day with grace and gratitude? Or did you uncover new behavior problems amidst the holiday hubbub? It’s not unusual, particularly when we spend the holiday with many friends and family members, for our kids to act uncharacteristically.

There are several issues that contribute to this problem. As much as we may attempt to keep life consistent, big holidays often disrupt the routine, causing sleep and meal disruptions. The kids may get more sugar than usual. They may go to bed later than usual. They may sleep less soundly if they’re not in their own beds. (My kids sleep on the floor at Grandma’s house.) They might get too much attention from family members. Our usual parenting tactics may get disrupted, either on our own accord (being lax), or comments from others may undermine our efforts.

No matter the specific cause, we are left to deal with children who are not themselves. Whether they are showing behavior problems or attitude issues, our kids are behaving uncharacteristically. This can confuse the most well-meaning parent. What do we do with this child we don’t recognize? And how do we deal with behavior problems we’ve never encountered before?

The most important idea to remember is that you will have to put effort into retraining your child. Whether the child has picked up bad behavior habits from others or has created some of his own, commit to retraining those bad behaviors right out of him. If your lives were only disrupted for a day or two, you might only require that much retraining time. If you were out of town for a week or longer, the behavior problems will be more deeply ingrained, and you’ll likely need more time for retraining.

Now, you may also be thinking ahead to Christmas. If your family is like mine, the time spent with friends and family over Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving, only on a larger scale. Again, you may need to retrain your child. But if you’d like to prevent behavior problems from occurring during Christmas festivities, rather than retrain after the fact, you’ll need to address your child’s specific needs. For example, if your child is an introvert and there are 20 people in your house, you may give the child an extra room time session to help him gather the energy to face all the people.

A few considerations to prevent holiday behavior problems include:

  • Keep meals as consistent as possible, even if that means feeding the child before or after the main family meal. Set alerts on your phone for meals, snacks and nap times.
  • Keep bed and nap times as consistent as possible. It can be difficult to get children to bed at their normal bedtimes when so many others stay up hours later, but sleep is the top consideration when facing behavior and attitude problems.
  • Limit sugar. Allow the child a Christmas cookie or two, but not much more.
  • Limit food dyes.
  • Do your best not to relax too much during the holidays. Take turns with your spouse and do all you can to stay consistent and follow through on your word.
  • Limit the child’s freedoms. If he’s not allowed to wander the house at home, he shouldn’t be allowed to do so at Grandma’s.
  • Consider the child’s personality. If he’s an introvert, give him some quiet, alone time.
  • Consider the child’s love language. If he thrives on words of encouragement from you and you spend all day talking to adult relatives, he may act up.

If, despite your best efforts, your child shows behavior problems, act on them before they escalate. Deal with whining before it escalates into a tantrum. Deal with grumpiness before it turns into a fight with a family member. Keep your eye on your child, and quietly and politely excuse yourselves if you need to discipline him. Then commit to retraining him when you get home.

Happy holidays! :)

How High (or Low) Are Your Standards?

Source: examiner.com

Where do you set the bar when it comes to your children and their behavior? How well did your kids fare during Thanksgiving dinner? Were you proud of them or did you walk away vowing to make some changes?

Deciding where to set the bar is an important exercise for any parent to undergo. Deciding on an intellectual (not gut) level what attitudes and behaviors are acceptable is the first step in parenting. You might even go so far as to write down acceptable behaviors and any future goals you have in mind for your child.

If you decide that you want your child to express gratitude to friends through acts of service, you might get him started on household chores when he’s 2. By the time he’s 8, he’ll then freely offer to unload the dishwasher when he sees that you’ve had a hard day.

By the same token, maybe you just want your kid to be a kid. You’re fine if he spends every free minute simply playing.

Personally, I probably stand between these two extremes. I have a friend who mentioned to me that her child offered to unload the dishwasher at a friend’s house. I was amazed. But then I’m also conflicted because I place a very high premium on imaginative play and think it’s so important to my kids’ developing minds and intellect. So while I do have my children do chores, I also let them play quite a bit.

This post is inspired by a recent comment I received from a stranger. Or rather, I should say that my children received this comment. It was Veterans Day, and my veteran and I took the kids out to a fairly upscale restaurant. There were other families there who were taking advantage of the partially free meal, and I won’t say I didn’t notice their kids’ behavior or the huge presence of mobile devices. At one table near us, there were two boys about Lucas’ age (5) and they each had their own iPad. As soon as they lost interest in the iPad, their behavior spun out of control, clearly unacceptable for this kind of restaurant.

Whenever we eat out, I explain to my boys that there are many other people in the restaurant who are paying good money for their meal, and they do not have the freedom of ruining that meal for those people. They must respect this fact every time we go out. Apparently, this has hit home because as a group of older people walked out of the restaurant, one of them leaned over our table and commended my children on their good behavior.

Of course, this puts a smile on my face. But my thoughts at the time bring me back to the point of this post. As this woman complimented their behavior, I felt some relief and pride, but I was also rolling my eyes a little. The fact of the matter is, at the exact moment that she complimented their behavior, we were frustrated with their manners. We didn’t see well-behaved kids. We saw kids who were eating green beans with their hands.

I realize that it’s important to step back a minute and realize that yes, they were sitting still, yes, they were sitting quietly, and yes, they were eating their vegetables without complaint. But at the same time, I cannot let go of the relatively high standards I have for my kids. I can recognize their good behavior and compliment them on it, but that doesn’t mean I should lower my expectations. If anything, their good behavior tells me that my methods are working!

So if you have high standards for your child, it’s a good idea to step back sometimes and appreciate their behavior. If you have relatively low standards, you’ll either be comfortable with the behavior you get while in public or you might even vow to raise the bar just a bit. Wherever you stand, be sure you have chosen where to set the bar. Don’t fall into an accidental parenting trap and just let the bar lie where it may.

Teach Gratitude

Source: blogs.uuworld.org

How grateful are your children? Do you actively teach them to appreciate the things they have in their lives? With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, gratitude is the name of the game. Of course, gratitude is important every day of the year, not just this one day. And gratitude is an important quality in everyone, kids and adults alike.

Many of my friends on Facebook are expressing gratitude the entire month of November. It’s an interesting exercise to decide what I’m most thankful for every day of the month. Admittedly, I’ve had days where I can’t come up with anything. But I’ve also had days where I list two or three things that I’m grateful for. It really changes my attitude. It forces me to see all that I truly do have and appreciate every bit of it. Sadly, I’m very much a glass-half-empty kind of person, so this exercise really changes my thinking.

When it comes to our kids, training them to be grateful is all about teaching them to think of all that they have. They don’t have the perspective to understand that they have much more than many other kids in this world. But gratitude doesn’t require us to compare. We can simply be grateful for what we have because we have it, not because somebody else doesn’t have it.

So take the time to walk through your house and marvel at all that you have. Do this with your child. Examine every little toy, piece of furniture, and item of clothing. Find your child’s favorite toy, and say, “Aren’t we so lucky to have great things to play with?” Find your softest blanket, and say, “Isn’t this blanket so soft and warm?” After your spouse has read a book to the kids, stop and say, “Aren’t you so lucky to have a daddy who is so good at reading stories?”

Now, don’t turn it into a blame game. Don’t force gratitude on them by saying there are starving children in China. This has no meaning to them. Their gratitude will be wrapped up in whatever it is that they are thankful for.

Make this a daily exercise and your children will begin to act and think with gratitude.

Is shyness an excuse?

Source: sheknows.com

Is shyness an excuse? For that matter, is any temperamental strength or weakness an excuse for questionable behavior? If your shy child clams up when someone compliments her, is that okay?

I was painfully shy as a child. Well, I was the comedian of the family within the safety of my home. But get me around strangers and I would clam up. Luckily, I don’t have a shy child, but if I did, I would work on that temperamental weakness just as I would any other.

Here’s what the Ezzos say:

“Shyness is not an acceptable excuse for disrespect. It cannot be used as a legitimate excuse for disrespect, because temperamental strengths and weaknesses do not exempt a child from right moral responses. If someone says hi to your child, the correct response should be, at least, hi. If someone compliments your daughter’s dress, teach her the basic courtesy response: ‘thank you,'” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 101).

If this is an issue with your child, take the time to work on it:

  • Instruct the child in how to respond in certain situations.
  • Explain when such situations might arise (before you leave for a social event).
  • If the child clams up, don’t make excuses for the child.
  • Just say, “I”m sorry, we are working on this.”
  • Don’t verbally berate the child in public. It’ll only make it worse.

Shyness isn’t the only temperamental quality to consider. My children are creative and extroverted. Shyness is the least of our concerns. But there are times when my children are loud and creative in the wrong situations. I often tell my children, “Be bored!” when we’re headed into a grocery store or restaurant where they might be tempted to make some fun where there isn’t any to be had.

Think through other temperamental qualities in your child and determine how you might work with the child to overcome any weaknesses.

Virtues not vices

Source: thebumbleandbilssblog.com

When you see a wrong behavior or poor moral choice, do you focus on the vice? Or do you focus on the opposite virtue?

We are told to always speak with positive language (e.g., “tell the truth,” not “don’t lie”) but this also applies to bigger moral issues. The Ezzos teach us:

“Children of all ages are better served by substitution than suppression,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 118).

Say you see one of the following vices: lying, cheating, stealing, hoarding, jealousy, tattling, anger, etc. Stop, identify the vice and then work on the opposite virtue.

“Suppression of wrong behavior is often achieved by encouraging the opposite virtue. If you want to suppress jealousy, give equal time to elevating the opposite virtue: contentment,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 118).

Here’s a list of vices and their opposite virtues:

  • Envy: Charity
  • Anger: Self-control
  • Revenge: Forgiveness
  • Lying: Honesty
  • Hoarding: Sharing
  • Tattling: Speaking kindly of others

Think of it as redirection. When our toddlers keep touching the TV after we’ve told them not to 136 times, we redirect their behavior by giving them something else to focus on. So if your child is lying, focus on honesty, teaching him various forms of honesty throughout the day. If you see a child envious of a friend, redirect his vice by focusing on charity.