I had a tremendous amount of feedback when I talked about motivating children several months ago on Periscope. I also wrote about it in my new book, There’s an Easier Way, in the chapter on Disciplining with Grace.
Over the years, I have found that affirming and expressing appreciation to our children is the easiest and most effective way to change their behavior.
The words that we use to affirm our children must be specific and based on their character.
For example, if a woman in your church tells you that you are the best mom in the entire church, it wouldn’t have the same significance as if she said something more specific such as, “I appreciate the grace and love that you show the women in this church through the women’s ministry.”
We can encourage our children the same way. I keep a list of 44 godly character traits on post-it notes inside my kitchen cabinet to refer to, so I can quickly come up with words of affirmation without much thinking.
Here are some examples:
“Thank you Nancy for taking care of Diesel (the puppy). You were kind and showed compassion.”
“Becky, thank you for being helpful and cleaning up the toys without being asked. That makes mommy so happy because we’ll know just where to find them when we want to play with them again.”
“Tony, thank you for playing with your baby brother while I was busy. That was very considerate of you, and was a huge help for me.”
“Cindy, thank you for bringing me your coat when I asked. It shows that you respect and honor me.”
“Brad, I felt so happy when I saw that you made your bed this morning. Thank you for being diligent and remembering our rules by completing your chores.”
I started using words of affirmation when the children were just babies. Even at 12 months old I could see how much they loved to please me. Affirming even young children helps them want to repeat the desired behavior.
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We live in a culture that defines quality of life as proportionate to the ease of that life. The problem for moms of young children, however, is that because their lives are so busy, and filled with so many interruptions, surprises, and sleep deprivation, they would not be categorized as having an easy life. Therefore, they keep waiting for their lives to become easier so that they can experience joy.
I have found that if we don’t choose to walk in joy when it’s NOT easy, we won’t have joy when it IS easy. Here is a scope about it.
One of the greatest things we can teach our children, is how to wait.
There are numerous reasons to teach our children how to wait. One of the most important reasons for me involved their spiritual walk. I wanted my children to learn to be humble, and diligent, and respectful, and loving and to be totally dependent on God for wisdom and direction. That type of Christian living takes faith, and faith involves trusting God and HIS timing. Learning how to wait in our daily physical walk, makes waiting in our spiritual walk much easier!
Communication with our children is vital to building the foundation that they need to fulfill their destinies in Jesus. Here are some phrases that I like to use with my children to encourage them, show them love, and role play good communication skills.
I liked the way_____________________
I'm glad you enjoyed learning_____________________
How do you feel about it?
You'll make it!
Knowing you, I'm sure_________________________
I have confidence in your judgment__________________
That's a hard one but I'm sure you will work it out
Thanks; that helped a lot
It was thoughtful of you to _______________________
Thanks I really appreciate____________ because it makes________________
You are really improving_______________________
Look at the progress you made____________________
You may not feel that you've reached your goal, but look how far you've come
I'd love to read your thoughts!
Sometimes the strangest things trigger the emotions. I haven’t been brought to tears thinking about him for a couple of months. My dad lived a long time, said he was ready for ‘the next chapter’, and died in May of 2015. I miss him so much. So, when I found myself in Walmart yesterday crying in the cleaning products aisle, it caught me by surprise.
Because of the distance from my home, I don’t shop at Walmart.
My biweekly long-distance visits to my father’s apartment included a nice visit, lunch, and a shopping trip to a local Walmart to purchase his needed prescriptions, groceries, and cleaning supplies. It became part of our routine, and continued for 7 years.
The memories flooded back while I was examining different types of toilet bowl cleaners. My tears in the middle of the crowded aisle drew stares.
One shopper continued to stare, but the others scattered. Maybe they thought I was contagious. I can’t blame them.
Who cries in Walmart? Everyone has a story.
Maybe the woman who continued to stare at me was praying for me. Maybe she has cried in the cleaning aisle.
I can only hope that I will always try to view others through love glasses, and not judgement or criticism. I hope that I will remember my temporary breakdown in Walmart and use it as a trigger to pray for others who don’t seem to be coping.
The Love Glasses are free but were purchased with a tremendously high price, the shedding of blood by my Savior. Looking at others with love, and praying for them is the least that I can do.
Thanks again Dad for everything. And thanks again Father God for sacrificing your only Son.