Thursday, July 29, 2010

Building or blocks

Sometimes as adults we long for the carefree days of childhood. Sometimes parents can fall into the trap of reliving their childhood vicariously through their children by letting their kids run free without responsibility or boundaries. While it is important to enjoy our kids and encourage them to have fun, it is vital to the development of our children to learn boundaries and responsibility. It is important for our kids to learn chores. It teaches them responsibility and shows them they are important to the family. This builds up their self-esteem. Dr. James Dobson in Hide or Seek and Dr. Ross Campbell in How to Really Love Your Child agree. If you want a responsible adult with confidence and self-esteem who is prepared to face the world on their own by the time they are 18-21 years old, encourage them to think and gradually give them more responsibility when they are children.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Service with a smile

Romans 12: 1 (New King James)*
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 (New International)*
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

If your child has chores, consider helping him with one. This isn't about doing it your way. This is about doing something nice to help them (while demonstrating an act of service and spending some quality time as well). Make a conscious effort to be available for conversation.

If your child does nto have a chore, consider training her, side-by-side.

Prayer Suggestion: Pray that your child will always be willing to talk to you. Ask God to help you be available.

*[Yes, I posted two versions of the same verse. Notice that acts of service can also be translated as acts of worship to God?]

Child labor

I've heard mothers complain that they can't get anything done because their little ones get in the middle of things. When my girls were at the age to get in the middle of things, I put them in the middle of things. I figured they would either learn to help or go find some way to entertain themselves.

Let's take a walk through my house and I'll tell you the chores my girls have (age 8yrs and almost 5yrs) and how I got them started.

Kitchen Counters: Put them on a chair or stool with a dry or damp cloth and let them "wash." Or you can give them a towel after you have cleaned a counter and tell them to "shine" it. Now my older daughter does a pretty good job on her own.

Dishes: turn the faucet on low or put a little water in the bottom of the sink (depending on the depth of the sink and your child's height and reach). Allow them a few small cups or spoons—nothing that holds a lot of water, because it will end up on you, your child, and the floor. They can scoop and pour. You can even give them a small brush. Both of my daughters can rinse dishes as I wash. When my girls tried to help with the dishwasher, I switched to dishwasher and kid friendly dishes. Have them hand you the dishes (as they get older, they can stack them on the counter). If you don't want slobbery toddler hands on your clean dishes, have them load the dirty dishes (perhaps after you've rinsed them).

Floors: I got my kids the college dorm type sweeper vacs and brooms (these tend to be smaller sized).

Dusting: Depending on the fragility and location of your decorations, they can dust shelves, table tops, blinds, etc.

Bathrooms: The sinks and counters can be done like the ones in the kitchen. For even more fun, hand your child a small spray bottle of water and set them in the bathtub and/or shower. You can give them a brush or rag, too. My younger daughter has recently learned to scrub toilets as well. I keep cheap, liquid hand soap in the toilet brush holder (make sure it's the type that can hold a couple inches of liquid in the bottom).

Laundry: A great first step is training your child to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket as they get ready for bed at night. My daughters love to drag the laundry baskets to the laundry room for me. Would you believe that they get upset if I do it? I only sort my clothes in four main categories: darks, lights, reds/pinks, towels and washcloths. As your child learns their colors, they can learn these categories, too. When they learn to read, they can learn how to read the clothing labels as to how they need to be washed. Emptying the dryer is an easy task for little ones to help with. You can always have them help fold their own clothes (I personally don't care if their clothes look a little wrinkled because they are going to get dirty and wrinkled as soon as they are put on anyway) or hand towels and washcloths.

Toys: When teaching preschool, to help the kids know where to put the toys away, I printed pictures off the internet of the various toys then attached them to shelves and baskets of where the toys were to be stored. You can cut a picture off the packaging of toys, take a [digital] picture and upload to the computer then print, or just search the internet for a picture and print. Attach the picture to the basket or shelf (only on plastic—I'm not responsible for wood, wicker or other materials) with clear packing tape or clear contact paper so you can see the picture.

Garage: If your child can stomp, make sure they have on shoes and let them stomp those cardboard boxes (cereal boxes and such) that are ready to be recycled. I collect the trash, tie off the bags and leave them by the garage door for my older daughter to take out to the trash bin. She also takes the recycling out.

As you can see there are lots of ways for kids to learn to help out around the house early. Why should mom (or dad) have to do all the dirty work? Isn't that why we had kids?

Monday, July 26, 2010

It’s the time of year …

Psalm 23:1 (New International Version)

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

It's the time of year for school supplies. You can use this as an opportunity to choose a practical gift (school supplies, backpack, lunchbag, school clothes) and wrap it. Plain old number two pencils might actually be exciting wrapped in pretty paper. Maybe even the reluctant school-goer can be a little happier after they open a school necessity imprinted with their favorite cartoon character.

Prayer suggestion: Pray for your child's teacher and the other students in the class.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time is tickin’ away

Ecclesiastes 6:3
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity …, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

Ignore the phone, TV, and internet and spend some time with your child on an activity the two of you agree on (sometimes what you want to do isn't what they want to do—strange).

If you want to take a walk on the wild side, allow them the power to choose the activity—and find some way to enjoy it!

Prayer Suggestion: Ask God to open your eyes to ways you can improve as a parent.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who else?

Job 16:5 (New International Version)

5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.

Most of my posts address showing love to kids or children. Though I definitely want you to find a way to encourage the kids in your life today; I also want you to keep a lookout for anyone else who could benefit from an encouraging word. You might be surprised how much it brightens their day to know they are noticed and appreciated.

Prayer suggestion: Ask God to help you be an encouragement to those you encounter today.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reach out and touch someone

Psalm 103:13 "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him"

So now that we all know how to show love through physical touch, words, time, gifts, and service; it is time to put it all together. Today, choose an act of physical touch to show someone you care about them and they are important. Here are some ideas to get you started:

wrestling, gentle squeeze of the shoulder, quick shoulder massage, high-five, play with their hair, tousle their hair, hug, kiss, pat on the back, back scratch ...

Prayer Suggestion: Pray for your child's friends.

Next: Words

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bubble Snakes

Over the last several years I have been collecting activities to do with kids. I finally got them organized this year--well, somewhat. This summer I wanted to test them.

Bubble Snakes--or The Foamerator as Family Fun magazine and Betz White of call it--is fun and cheap. You'll need plastic water bottles (the individual drinking size), scissors, rag or towel, rubber band, and dish soap or bubble solution.

"To make one, use scissors to cut the bottom off a plastic water bottle. Cover the open end with a circular piece of twoel that's a few inches wider than the bottle. Secure the towel with a rubber band and dampen it with water, then dip it into a shallow bowl of dish soap. Blow gently through the mouth of the bottle to create snakes of tiny bubbles."

My girls and I made these last week and discovered a few things. Your mouth has to completely cover the mouth of the bottle to blow (or blow like a trumpet). If it doesn't work at first, check to make sure the rag/towel piece and rubber band are tight. it is best to breathe in through the nose to help avoid sucking the bubbles into your mouth. Other than that, we had fun with this one. Try having a contest to see who can make the longest snake before the bubbles fall off or blow away. The winner gets ... a bit dizzy

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I use it myself

Have I tried any of the languages on my own kids? Do I do any of the things I suggest? Have I noticed anything?

Yes, I have used these products myself--I mean, yes, I have applied these things to my own life and kids. On days when I ask my kids to do their chores first and play later, I get the usual whining, complaining, arguing ... But when I take the time (usually on a Saturday morning) to play a video with my older daughter right after breakfast, I find she is more willing to be helpful. Does it work perfectly every time? No. I am not perfect, so why should I expect my kids to be perfect? I have noticed an improvement, and that's what's important to me :)

Love with Service

Psalm 90:16 "May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children."

Though we want our kids to be happy, building self-esteem in our kids is not about making them happy. Just as with words of affirmation and gifts, acts of service is about doing what is best for our kids. It is about making sure they know they are loved, not about pleasing them.

Acts of service is a time to model behavior and activities--everything from every day chores and skills to charitable acts as well. We serve our kids ALOT when they are little. As they grow, we train them to do things for themselves. No, this is not easy. Their first attempt is not perfect. As parents (and mentors) we may have to put aside or at least change the expectations we had before kids.

While it is good to build independence in our children--in fact it is absolutely essential to train them early and appropriately!--acts of service can also be given as a special gift. I know my daughter is capable of picking out clothes to wear and brushing her own hair. Yet, sometimes I can make the effort to do these things for her to say, "I love you. You are important to me. I am not so self-absorbed and busy that I can't take time out to do something simple for you once in a while."

Prayer suggestion: Ask God to help you use each of these "love languages" as you communicate with the kids in your life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I'm Sorry

Ok, all right, I'll admit it. I had a horrible, aweful, rotten morning with my kids this morning. Arguing and yelling-and not just from my kids either. Have I mentioned that I'm not perfect? Well, this morning was a "perfect" example of everbody making bad choices and having bad reactions. In fact, I think I did only one thing right this morning ...

I told my daughters I was sorry. I apologized for yelling and losing my cool. We hugged. I told my daughters we would try to find something fun and nice to do this afternoon since we had such a rough morning. I wasn't looking to give them gifts or bend over backward to make everybody happy. I just wanted to spend some positive time with them after such a negative experience. But my older daughter said and did something that melted my heart and proved to me that saying sorry was the right thing to do. She told me that we didn't have to do anything special this afternoon, she just wanted a hug. Wow.

I choose--no, I make the effort to apologize to my kids if I realize I am wrong. Whether I have gotten after them in error or chastized them too harshly for the particular crime. I want my kids to know that I am not perfect and I do make mistakes. I also hope they will learn from my example of apologizing so that they too can give a sincere apology when necessary.


My older daughter's birthday is coming up. Nearly every time a commercial comes on I hear, "I want that" or "Mommy, can I have that". I usually tell her I'll put it on her wishlist (which I conveniently forget to do) or tell her she has to get rid of something to get something new. And this whole scenario is replayed at Christmas time (which starts right after Halloween, apparently) and seems to be even worse as every company wants to push some new product. Last year I remember my kids wanted the large animatronic dinosaur or pony. *rolling eyes*

I know I've been suckered into a couple infomercials myself. There was one for perfect pancakes and another for donuts. Though I did wait until they were available in stores--yeah, I know, it's not an excuse. They still got me. Commercials just seem to breed discontentment.

As a recovering packrat, I have stuff--lots of stuff. I used to hide the things I was going to get rid of and get them out of the house without my kids knowledge, because they would tell me they wanted it or have a meltdown because they loved it (even if it was never theirs).

So I'm trying to change my strategy. I'm telling and showing my kids what I am getting rid of and why. When commercials come on telling me something I "need to buy", I'm going to start telling them what I don't need and why. I want to be an example of contentment and a cheerful giver. I want my kids to know that we don't have to have everything we see on TV and that some people live with much less than we currently have.

It's hard in today's world to not listen and pay attention to what we hear on TV. But just imagine that if we can teach our kids not to listen to toy commercials, then maybe they will learn they don't have to listen to the other commercials and TV shows, too. You know the ones that tell our kids they have to dress a certain way, listen to certain music, wear a certain perfume/cologne in order to be considered cool and acceptable by the world. Imagine a kid who grows up confident in themselves, not swayed by media bias. Hmm, could that be too big a dream?