Help Them Control Their Behavior

Help Them Control Their Behavior

Help Them Control Their Behavior

All of us at Celebrate Kids are passionate that children know who they are. And, parents and educators need to know who they are. Identity controls behavior.

I’ve enjoyed writing this series on helping children develop a complete identity. A complete identity is important for many reasons I’ve included in the posts. Let me summarize it this way:

Children with a complete identity will be healthier. They’ll be more secure and confident. Why? If one part of their identity fails them, they’ll know more about themselves to rely upon. For instance, if children think they only have an intellectual identity and their grades begin to slip, they may panic. This won’t help their concentration and they may earn lower grades in the next week. But, when they know their character, they can rely on the choice to be diligent to raise their grades. When they know their social identity, they may think of someone to study with. Knowing their emotional identity can help them calm down. I trust this makes sense.

During the past 2 weeks, like me, have you paid more attention to the weather than normal? Have you been glued to the TV and watching reports about Harvey and Irma? Have you been on Facebook more than normal to check on your friends? Praying about protection more than usual?

Have you felt out of balance? Out of sorts? This is what might happen to children who all of a sudden rely on just one of their identities.

Let’s study our children and know all of who they are. Then let’s make sure we pass our observations onto them. It matters.

 

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You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Physical identity

Spiritual identity

Spiritual Identity – Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

Spiritual Identity - Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

Spiritual Identity

Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

In the first blog in this series about raising children with a complete identity, I drew an analogy between parenting and archery and bowling. I wrote this:

You have to know what you’re aiming for when you think about raising your children. What does your bull’s-eye look like? What would you consider a strike? Being intentional is wise. Having strategies to help you accomplish your goals makes it more likely that you will be successful.

Do you agree with me that it may be most important to have strategies for developing children’s spiritual identity? As important as the other identities are, if you’re raising your children to value faith and a personal relationship with Jesus, then strategies definitely matter.

But, first, what’s your bull’s-eye? What’s a strike when it comes to their spiritual growth and identity? Do they know? Do they agree? Knowing your goal – your bull’s-eye and strike – will help you determine strategies.

When asking 7th graders in June what they would consider a high compliment in the spiritual category, they answered with these phrases:

  • Be a good Christian with actions.
  • Peace
  • Close to God, godly man
  • Teachable
  • On the right path
  • Loving
  • Christ follower, faithful
  • Christ follower, disciple maker, missionary, the hands and feet of Christ, Christian
  • Faithful
  • Believer, passionate, bright from the inside
  • Disciple maker, believer
  • Have a strong faith in God
  • Close to God
  • Christian, heart for Christ, faithful
  • Faithful

Like with the other identities, their answers encouraged me. If these were my children, I’d be pleased. Do you see something here that you hope your children would list? What’s missing that you’d love them to aspire to?

I encourage you to make a list. Ask your children what they’d list and compare. This will help you see if they’re catching what matters to you and/or if you need to talk about everything more.

Once you’re set on some spiritual goals, then think about the strategies. How will you partner with God to try to cause your children to become who you want them to be?

What role will each of these play? Why?

  • Worship (Private and corporately)
  • Church attendance (youth group, Sunday school, children’s church)
  • Church involvement/volunteering
  • Bible reading
  • Bible study
  • Scripture memorization
  • Prayer
  • Quiet time
  • Family devotions
  • Service
  • Giving
  • Fasting
  • Sacrifice
  • Rest

Again, look at the list you made of goals for your child’s spiritual development. I hope you have more statements like, “Loves God” and “Spending time with God is important” than “Prays daily” and “Reads the Bible.”

Let’s always remember and explain that we do what we do to become who we are.

Read that sentence again. I hope you agree! We read the Bible to become devoted to God’s truths, to fall in love with God, and to discover how to live rightly. Pray to develop a more intimate relationship with God. We give to become more aware of needs and to discover God is generous. We fast to increase our reliance on God and to grow our faith.

You get the idea. Talk with your kids about who you hope they are spiritually and how you’d love to help them become those things by doing what’s relevant.

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You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Physical identity

Complete Identity – Your Physical Self

Complete Identity - Your Physical Self

Complete Identity

Your Physical Self

Today I continue the blog series about helping children develop a complete identity with a look at the physical self. I’ve already written about the importance of several others. When you think about children having an identity related to their physical selves, what do you think of?

There are three components to this identity.

  • There is physical health. I remember when I was in grade 6 and a boy named Jay tripped me while we were ice-skating. He used a broom that we were supposed to be using for a fun game. His choice resulted in my right arm breaking. For weeks, all people seemed to notice about me was that I was in a cast and had a broken arm. That’s all they wanted to talk about. And I bet I enjoyed talking about it, too.
    • Children and teens with ongoing health issues can perhaps put too much of their identity in this component. Or, they might be forced to if that’s all people ask about or talk about when with them. People might not know about their intellectual, emotional, and social identities and which character qualities they highly value. This is definitely limiting.
  • A second component of the physical self is physical abilities. This certainly includes athletics. Teenagers who value this part of them, when asked who they are, will tell you first that they are a starter on the basketball team or that they enjoy playing soccer. Drama is also associated with physical ability because if you’re good at drama you can make your whole body look old even though you are young, you can laugh with your whole body to exaggerate when you are on stage, and you can stand as still as a statue if your role requires it for a while. Working with your hands with clay or the small motor coordination to do science experiments carefully is also part of the physical ability self.
  • The part of the physical self that most people think of first is probably the appearance self. Tall, short, overweight, slender, beautiful blue eyes, fair skin, naturally curly hair, …  you get the idea.

How Can We Talk To Our Kids About Their Physical Self?

In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read that God looks at the heart. He would want us to also. I enjoy telling children that there are very few people described by physical appearance in the Bible. When we do know something about the physical identity, it is because it is relevant to the purpose for which they were created. For example, we know Esther was beautiful because it is relevant to her story. We know Sampson had long hair because it’s relevant to his story.

If you don’t want your children and teens to over-emphasize their physical appearance selves, don’t talk about it often. If they hear you talk with others about their beauty or if you compliment them more about that than anything else, they’ll start to prioritize it. They might think it’s the basis of their security with you. They may think, “My dad doesn’t know much about me, but he sure thinks it’s important that I’m pretty.”

Would you want your children to talk about all three components of a physical identity if you were talking with them about their physical selves? Why or why not? What would you prefer them to say or value? How do you want them to prioritize this identity in relation to their social, emotional, character qualities, and intellectual identities?

What I Thought Teens Would Say

Those of you who have been reading my blogs, know that earlier this summer I spoke with several hundred 7th graders about who they were created to be. I asked them to identify a high compliment they could receive about their physical identity. I was stunned and very encouraged by some of the responses. These were what I thought many teens would list:

  • Strong, athletic
  • Fast, good-looking, athletic
  • Strong, beautiful
  • Sexy, fast, strong
  • Strong, fast
  • Pretty, athletic, fit
  • Beautiful, strong
  • Athletic, strong, in shape
  • Good at sports
  • Handsome, muscular, athletic
  • Physically fit, strong
  • Athletic

Check out these responses. What do they indicate? I think these young people are mature and were able to think of others and respond with maturity. How I wish that schools and church groups would be full of kids wanting these physical identities and looking for these identities in others.

  • Diverse
  • Beautiful in their own way
  • Comfortable, different, unique
  • Comfortable with yourself
  • Confident
  • Naturally healthy

What do you think?

Again, what would you prefer your teens or children value regarding their physical selves? Are you strategically parenting so they will? What are you talking about? Not talking about? What do you affirm? Do you criticize something over and over again?

Also, when we find out what children and teens value, what can we do to help them either achieve their preferences or change them if we believe they’re unhealthy or unrealistic? Think about this, too, and maybe talk with your children. For instance, 7 groups of my 7th graders value “strong.” I wonder what they mean by that and why it’s important to them. Would they like to work to become strong or do they just hope it will happen? What about “beautiful in their own way”? (I LOVE this one!) What thinking patterns do they need so they can believe this of themselves and others? What difference might it make? This would be such a great discussion!

As always, thanks for reading the blog. I praise God for your interest and teachability. Now, invest in your children because you took the time to read it. Oh … what if we invested in ourselves and our thoughts regarding our physical self? Yes, that might be worth it, too. For sure!

 

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You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Lie #4: “I Am My Own Authority”

Last Sunday, it was my great joy to facilitate a small group in my church who has been going through my book Screens and Teens. I was asked to teach about the fourth lie I address in my book: I am my own authority. I thought I would share what we did in hopes that you might find this a valuable way to spend some time with adults or teenagers in your life.

To review and to begin thinking about this lie, I asked what evidence they saw in the past week that each of the first three lies is believed by people. I also asked how that lie is related to the lie that we think we don’t need anyone else’s authority. We had a great discussion and I think you can as well.

  • Lie #1: I am the center of my own

What’s the evidence people believe this?

How is it related to the lie that I can be my own authority?

  • Lie #2: I deserve to be happy all the time.

What’s the evidence people believe this?

How is it related to the lie that I can be my own authority?

  • Lie #3: I must have choices.

What’s the evidence people believe this?

How is it related to the lie that I can be my own authority?

Then, after reviewing information in the chapter from the book about the authority lie, I asked three questions.

  • What are the dangers of no authority?
  • What are the dangers of bad authority?
  • What are the benefits of good authority?

Discussing these questions with your teens could be profitable. Also, ask them to define “bad authority” and “good authority” and see if you agree. Share your definitions.

How would you discuss the benefits of God’s authority? Or maybe you could spend time discussing reasons God is a good authority for us to trust. That’s what I chose to do.

I listed some of the attributes of God to make the point that it’s Who He is that should allow us to trust Him as authority. And isn’t the same thing true of us? It’s who we are that is going to encourage people to view us as an authority and to trust us as authority. It is not the number of policies or rules we set. It is not how we do or do not deal with those who break them. It’s about our character, our identity, and our essence.

You could discuss this idea, too, if you believe it would be worthwhile or simply reflect on this list by yourself. In what ways do you see the quality related to God’s trusted authority?

  • Wisdom (The ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve these ends by the most perfect In other words, God makes no mistakes.)
  • Infinitude (God knows no boundaries.)
  • Sovereign (God is in control of everything that happens.)
  • Holy (God is set apart from all created beings. This refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity.)
  • Omniscient (God is all-knowing.)
  • Faithful (Everything that God has promised will come to pass.)
  • Loving (God holds the well-being of others as His primary concern.)
  • Omnipotent (God is all-powerful.)
  • Self-sufficient (God has life in Himself. He has no needs and there is no way He can improve.)
  • Just (God does not conform to some outside criteria. Being just brings moral equity to everyone.)
  • Immutable (God never changes.)
  • Merciful (God is actively compassionate and kind toward those who don’t deserve it.)
  • Good (God is kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men.)
  • Gracious (God enjoys acting on His love and giving great gifts to those who love Him, even when they do not deserve it.)
  • Omnipresent (God is always present.)

I’ll end the blog like I ended our group discussion. Here is your homework assignment. If you claim that God is your authority, what is the evidence? In other words, if I spent 24 or 48 hours with you, how would I know that God is your authority? As I thought about this last week in preparation for Sunday’s lesson, I was both encouraged and humbled. I set goals for this week. Perhaps you’ll do the same.

I Want You to Talk to Your Kid about My Kid – Guest Blog Post by Dawn Ratzlaff

Advocate: “a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.; a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.”

I have great respect for moms and dads who are advocates for their children. It’s among their most important roles. My friend, Dawn, is that type of parent.

Dawn blogs about “a look inside life with a child on the spectrum” at “A Fly on the Wall.” I’ve known Dawn, her husband, Jon, and their son Enoch for several years. I was glad to meet their younger sons a few weeks ago.

Dawn recently blogged vulnerably about what she wishes other children knew about autism so they could better relate to their son. In honor of moms and their commitment to their children, I’m posting her blog here. I’m also posting it because I agree that we could all benefit from better understanding autism from a mom’s perspective. I hope her passion and information inspires you to sit down and talk with your children.

I Want You to Talk to Your Kid about My Kid – by Dawn Ratzlaff

A couple of months ago, a little girl at church asked me, “Is Enoch a baby?”

“No… He’s six years old!”

Then why does he wear diapers?”

“Well, Enoch hasn’t learned how to use the potty yet.”

“Why?”

“Enoch has something called autism. Because of that, his brain works a little different from yours. So, he hasn’t learned how to use the potty yet. Or talk. But hopefully he will someday.”

“Ok!”

The interaction was short, and my answer seemed to be all she needed in the moment. But, I thought to myself, “They’re starting to notice that he’s different.” 

I wondered if when she went home if she would ask her parents about Enoch. What would they say? Do they know Enoch has autism? Do they understand what autism is? How can they explain my child’s differences to their typically developing child?

Yesterday, we went to the museum. While we were there, a little boy asked Enoch to play with him in the sandbox.

He said, “Do you want to play with me?”

Enoch said, “Yes!”

“Great! Start getting sand.”

Blank stare. “Otay!” (Okay)

“Okay, now you need to do this….” “Why aren’t you talking?” “Why are you talking like that?” “No, use your REAL voice.” “I don’t understand you….”

Enoch just smiled and continued trying to play with the little boy, and the little boy kind of played with Enoch, but he seemed to lose some interest when he realized Enoch was different.

I wanted to step in. I wanted to talk for him. I wanted to tell the little boy that Enoch didn’t have many words, but that he understood everything. Instead, I decided to sit back and observe. We weren’t going to see this little boy again.

The little boy was with a sister, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. What would they say when we left? What did the grandparents think? What do they know about autism? Can they tell he has autism? How will they explain my child to their grandchild?

You may be reading this, and you don’t know my child. But, the chances are you know a child (or an adult) with autism.

The current statistics state that 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum. For boys, the prevalence is higher with 1 in 42 boys on the autism spectrum.

That many.

That is a LOT of children.

Unfortunately, the statistics on adults on the spectrum are not as clear because many went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as children.

Yet, despite the prevalence, people who don’t live with it don’t understand it.

Even 2 years after Enoch was diagnosed, a close family member asked me, “But, isn’t autism a psychological problem?”

NO… 

Autism is a NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER.

NOT A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEM. 

(For the record, I was hurt that after 2 years, this family member had not done any research to educate themselves about my child. Why didn’t they ask questions before? It wasn’t that the question was wrong, it was the perceived notion that they did not care enough to learn.) 

It makes me think: “if a family member of a child with autism cannot learn about the disorder, why would anyone else?”

So, here’s a little bit about autism:

Autism is a neurological disorder. Enoch’s brain works differently. He perceives things differently. Because of this, some situations are overwhelming for him and he may react in a way that does not seem typical.

Autism is a spectrum. I once read, “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.” That statement is very true. Over the past several years, I have been able to build relationships with many families who have kiddos on the spectrum, and they are ALL DIFFERENT. While some children are able to talk well, others like Enoch, have very few words. While some may be perceived as anti-social, Enoch is very friendly. He desires so much to have friends.

However, there are things that pretty much everyone on the spectrum has in common (there do have to be guidelines to diagnose it after all).

If a child has not met developmental milestones at the usual time, this is a big red flag. Typically all skills will be delayed including fine motor, gross motor and oral motor. Enoch did not walk until he was 22 months old. At 6.5, he is starting to approximate words. He struggles greatly with fine motor skills. He is still no where close to being potty trained. (I have been changing diapers/ pull ups for 6.5 years straight with no end in sight.) He did not learn to jump until he was 5.5.

These delays are NOT caused by bad parenting. Please do not think poorly of a parent if their child is on the spectrum. They have been through a lot. They have had feelings of guilt. They have questioned if it is their fault. It isn’t. They love their child and they work SO hard to help their child on a daily basis. They take their children to therapy. They take their children to doctor’s appointments. They do not have much time alone because they are constantly alert in watching after their child. At this point, we don’t know WHAT causes autism. Science points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In Enoch’s case, I truly believe autism is something he was born with. 

Communication struggles are highly prevalent in autism. While some can talk, they struggle with connecting with others. They may not speak unless prompted to do so. Enoch’s main method of communication is American Sign Language (ASL). He is also learning to use an Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) device in the form of an iPad app. You may see a child on an iPad and think poorly of the parents. But, that may be that child’s means of communicating. And both sign language and AAC do not hinder communication. They enhance it! Enoch is now starting to approximate words, and I attribute much of that to our work with ASL and AAC.

This does not mean that a child on the spectrum is not smart. Enoch is VERY smart. Despite not being able to talk, he is word smart. He can spell. He can read. He enjoys math and science. He is on a typical Kindergarten level in a majority of his subject areas. His biggest delay academically is in writing (because of poor fine motor skills).

Many people on the spectrum struggle with gastrointestinal issues. When Enoch was an infant, he would have a bowel movement once a week. I remember thinking that was so strange. I asked our pediatrician about it, and he said, “It must be Enoch’s normal.” For the past several years now, we have visited a gastroenterologist for both chronic diarrhea and chronic constipation. There aren’t really many answers for this link, but there is a lot of research in the past few years about the connection between the gut and the brain.

Many children on the spectrum are picky eaters. Enoch is one of them. I can quickly make a list of the limited foods he will eat, and it is getting worse. When we visited with a nutritionist about a year a half ago, and I listed what he will eat she said, “Yep! That sounds about like what all the kiddos on the spectrum that see me will eat.” She was however surprised by his love of hummus and bananas.

Social situations and highly stimulating situations can be overwhelming. Again, those on the autism spectrum perceive their surroundings differently from those who are neurotypical. Enoch tends to have what you might consider a meltdown in some of these situations. For him, haircuts are the absolute worst. Because of that, his hair was very long for a long time. This was much more involved than a child who did not want a haircut. As parents, we would tire of the constant comments. “He needs a haircut.” “He looks like a girl.” “Why don’t you cut his hair?”

Many on the spectrum are drawn to water. (And do not understand the danger associated with it.) This includes Enoch. He is extremely drawn to water. Extremely. I will turn down invitations to anything with a pool or close to a body of water or any kind because the thought of it brings me close to a panic attack (this is NOT an exaggeration). We cannot visit certain family members houses because they have a pool. Even if he had swim lessons (which we will do at some point), because of his poor motor skills, he would not be able to swim at this time. He just learned how to blow. Sort of.

Drowning is among the leading cause of death of individuals with autism.” For more information on safety concerns associated with autism please visit: http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-safety-facts/

Children on the spectrum often experience sleep disturbances. Enoch has been an early riser as long as I can remember. He seems to be able to function on much less sleep than I have ever been able to. Most mornings, he is awake between 4:00 and 5:00. Sometimes, I hear him before that and need to go in his room to turn out his light, tell him to stop playing and try to get more sleep. At the recommendation of our pediatrician, we lock his door from the outside to avoid potential safety issues. However, we can hear him playing in his room, LOUDLY, so the rest of us don’t get much sleep either. Lately, he is reading to himself, which I love. Who would have thought he would become such a bookworm? Not me. 

All this said, maybe your child knows another child on the spectrum. They know this other child is different. They don’t understand why this child is different. YOU may even look at this child and think they are “weird”. You may be concerned by their behavior because you don’t understand it yourself. I think it is important that children understand now, so that when they are older they learn to be compassionate and not mean when they encounter someone who is different from them.

(And I think this point goes along with ALL differences, but that’s a whole different blog post, and something I know less about.)

A few suggestions:

  1. Talk to the parent. Talk to me. Ask questions. There are not wrong questions. Most parents of children on the spectrum are open books. We want to share with you about our children. We want you to understand.
  2. Schedule a playdate. Let your kid spend some time with the child in a different setting. Perhaps they have only seen how they act at school or church. Sometimes those settings can be overwhelming. Be aware that the child’s parents may rather you come to their home (because their child is more comfortable there). Do it. Don’t take offense, it isn’t because we aren’t interested in coming to your home.
  3. Ask your kid questions. They may have more answers than they know. Ask them: “Why do you think _________ is different?” “Is there anything that ___________ likes to do that you like to do?” ” How does it make you feel when _______________ does that?”
  4. Remind your child that we are ALL different. The one thing we all have in common is that we were all made by a loving God IN HIS IMAGE. God made Enoch. When God made Enoch, He did not make a mistake.

I want you to talk to your kid about my kid.

This is written by Dawn Ratzlaff. She and her husband, Jon, live in Dallas, TX, with their 3 sons. Jon is a minister of music at a local church, and Dawn stays home with the kids. Enoch, their oldest, is 6.5, and has moderate- severe autism. Their twins, Malachi and Titus are (almost) 2. The 3 of them are a handful, and Dawn can’t imagine her life any other way. She enjoys cooking, baking, singing, playing the piano, writing, and drinking (lots of) coffee. If you want to follow her blog, you’ll find it here.

Even More Good Reasons To Take a Tech Break!

Would you like more good news?

On Monday, I shared that kids can learn impulse control and self-regulation by playing and interacting with their parents. This has maybe never been more important since using lots of technology delays the development of both.

There are more reasons to play with children and teens. Skills essential for school success that are part of the executive functioning part of the brain are affected.

Do you want your children to be successful with these skills?

  • Creative thinking – able to think of ideas and answers that aren’t obvious
  • Flexible thinking – able to connect ideas uniquely that don’t automatically appear to go together
  • Higher-order thinking – able to analyze, synthesize, predict, evaluate, infer, interpret, and reflect
  • Task persistence – able to stay the course and complete work independently
  • Emotion regulation – able to identify emotional responses, respond to people and situations with appropriate/healthy emotions, and not be controlled by them

I imagine you want children to have these skills. There are two things to do:

  • Play with your children; don’t just watch them play. Social and unstructured play that does not involve digital devices engages and improves these skills.
  • Talk with your children. Parent-child interactions are essential. Talking while running errands, completing chores, playing, hanging out together, and the like will enhance these executive functioning skills.

Have you had a similar thought to mine while reading the skill list? I know adults who need these skills. Maybe playing and conversational interactions with others would help us all.

As I wrote on Monday … Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat.

Take a Tech Break! Play, Talk, and Interact Instead

78% of the parents surveyed in a new study by Barna Research, in cooperation with Andy Crouch, indicated raising their kids today is more complicated than when their parents raised them. Technology was the number one reason they listed. Do you agree?

Let me share a probable reason and some suggestions to help.

The use of technology delays the development of the brain’s executive functioning. This includes impulse control and the ability to self-regulate. That’s why children are more likely to just do what they want, without thinking. And, they have a hard time managing themselves. Planning is hard and they may not be able to judge if they’ve done a good job on a task.

Certainly, this makes parenting harder because the kids aren’t as obedient or as successful.

What can we do? I’ve got great news!

Both impulse control and self-regulating are best learned and taught through play (non-digital, of course!) and by interacting with parents.

Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat.

Not all difficult situations need difficult solutions. Praise God!

“Come to Momma!”

Upon entering the room, you’re surprised your child is standing. You realize a big milestone is about to occur. You don’t shout, “Sit down. You might hurt yourself!” Instead, you have someone run to get the video camera while you get in position.

You expect progress, and you show that to your child through your behavior and language. Positioning yourself four feet away with your arms outstretched, you smile broadly and use only an encouraging tone of voice. Focused on the goal, you communicate, “Come to Momma!”

One step. Then another. A fall. A second try will appear as a false start. Over the next few days there are missteps. Attempts. Half-steps. Fall downs.

These aren’t “mistakes” though. We would never tell people our child made a mistake trying to walk, even if he fell down on his tenth attempt. Rather, it is more likely we would announce his every attempt. We call our parents, siblings, and friends and perhaps even post it on Facebook: “Jared tried to walk today!” This is our attitude because we’re looking for progress, not perfection—for growth, not completion.

We know error-free walking is the goal. It’s possible, but only if it’s the destination. Perfection can’t be the journey. The journey must be built on faith in the possibilities and an expectation for good, better, and then best.

As you’ve noticed, children don’t crawl for long. They pull themselves up, walk around things, walk alone, skip, gallop, and eventually run. When they fall down doing any of those things, they almost always pick themselves up and keep going unless we react as if they should be upset. Gasping, looking at them with alarm, running toward them, and asking if they’re okay will likely cause the tears to flow even if they are not hurt by the stumble. Our reactions are often mirrored by our children’s.

Their goal to walk is accomplished and celebrated. At a young age, they long for progress.

What if, throughout their growing up years, we had a “Come to Momma!” perspective? What difference would it make if we could see progress even in the smallest of ways from our preschooler, gradeschooler, teenager, young adult? What if we expected them to stumble along the way and we didn’t consider that stumble a mistake? What if we stayed at four feet away, not eight? What if our arms are reached toward our children, not folded in front of us? What if we smiled instead of frowned? What if we had an encouraging, optimistic tone in our voices, issuing a request our children want to fulfill, not demands they can’t live up to?

What if our children had a “Come to Momma!” belief system? I can accomplish what my parents are asking me to do. Attempts aren’t failure; they are part of life. I can pick myself up to try again. Perfection may never be reached or even necessary because I know my parents will celebrate my progress.

This “Come to Momma” mindset is incredibly important to remember in growing our children’s confidence and managing and motivating positive change. When things can get tense because of everything that’s going on and children wish they could be perfect, let’s remember this. (I write more about this belief system in the book Jill Savage and I wrote for you, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are. There’s tons in it to encourage you.)

Unshakable Loyalty, Do Your Kids Experience This From You?

The Green Bay Packers lost yesterday in their championship game with the Atlanta Falcons. As a result, the Falcons will compete against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Packers and their fans will stay home.

If you know me, follow me on Facebook, or have heard me speak especially during football season, you probably know I’m a fan. I grew up in Wisconsin and lived in Green Bay for seven years before moving to Fort Worth in 1991 to begin my ministry, Celebrate Kids, Inc.

I’m still a fan. My loyalty is settled and not dependent upon their win/loss record. Using this as an opportunity to reflect on family dynamics, I hope you’re a fan of your kids and that your loyalty doesn’t depend upon how often they win or lose.

The Packers aren’t losers just because they lost a game. They’re still winners in my book. After all, they made it to their conference playoff game! Now, looking from sports and toward your children, how do you view your kids? Are they losers because they lost (failed a test, lost at sports, behaved badly, etc.)? Or do you think of them as always beloved, and usually victorious with an occasional bad day?

I didn’t take the Packers’ loss personally. I didn’t get angry. I didn’t yell at the TV. I didn’t post anything on social media sites that would make friends who are Falcons’ fans mad. In fact, within minutes of the Falcons victory, I texted my niece’s husband and some friends who are huge Falcons fans. Congratulating them was right.

And I posted on Facebook that I’m still a Packers’ fan. I am. Do your kids know if you’re still their fan? It is never the wrong time to cheer them on!

You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt (Guest Post by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory)

How often do you wonder if you could have handled a situation with a child better than you did? Notice, I didn’t ask if you do, I asked how often you do. That’s because if you’re a parent who cares, you have wondered. If we’re not careful, mom guilt or dad guilt can occur and paralyze us as we’re overcome with regrets. It’s just one of the many things that causes parents to be overwhelmed.

Because being overwhelmed is never good and can lead to other negative issues, I was glad to pre-read the new book, Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos and Restore Your Sanity, written by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. You’ll benefit from the book as they share about many things that can cause us to be overwhelmed and, more importantly, what to do about them.

Please read their guest blog. At the end, you’ll want to get the free gift they offer you and follow through to possibly win a free book. (The chapter related to the free gift is worth the price of the book.) – Dr. Kathy

You’re Not Alone: The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

“What would you do differently as a mom, Cheri?”

I hesitate, look around the table at the five women gathered for a mom’s night out, and realize I’m among friends.

“Pretty much everything!” I say, only half in jest.

“There are three general types of feedback people can give each other: (1) Affirmation (2) Coaching, and (3) Evaluation.”

Everyone nods; they’ve each read Thanks for the Feedback, too.

I continue. “What I wish I’d done was spent their first ten years giving them very intentional coaching in all key areas of life. Then, by the time they were teens, the foundation would have been well-laid, and I could have focused more on affirmation. Unfortunately, I fell for the self-esteem movement of the 90’s.”

All five women roll their eyes in sympathetic understanding.

“I did it the wrong way around: I affirmed my kids’ every waking moment but failed to coach and, as necessary, correct. As a result, they’re 24 and 26 and still trying to figure out how to launch independent lives.”

As our conversation continues, each mom shares her own regrets.

By dessert time, our list is long indeed.

The Overwhelm of Mom Guilt

I’ve seen plenty of social media memes urging us to “Live with no regrets.”

But I have yet to meet a regret-free mom.

Most conversations I have with mothers, of any age or stage, quickly turn to how overwhelmed they are by Mom Guilt.

A few years ago, I posted this question to my Facebook page:

“I’m working on a project and need some examples of negative self-talk that parents use against themselves. (i.e. “They deserve a better mom than me…”) Give me your best imitation(s) of those inner critic, mom/dad guilt voices!”

In less than an hour, almost one hundred women (no men) had left comments like these:

  • “If I was a better Mom, I wouldn’t have such a hard time breastfeeding – or I’d produce more milk.” Or “This baby deserves a better mom – one that isn’t feeling weepy or crabby every day.”
  • “What will people think if my child keeps _______________?” (Fill in blank with crying, sucking his thumb, whining, talking in church, carrying her blankie, refusing green vegetables, etc., etc.)?
  • “At this rate we’ll be Jerry Springer Show regulars by 2015.”
  • “If I were a good mom, my child would… take school work more seriously, be better organized, have more friends, play outside more, not be failing his class, not be working on his project at 10:00 the night before it’s due.”
  • “Whatever I do it will never be enough.”
  • “They would choose (another mom’s name) over me for a mom if they had a choice.”

My Most Overwhelming Regret

I resonate with every single concern voiced above.

But my most overwhelming regret is that I didn’t take care of my own emotional and spiritual health when my children were little.

I met my husband when I was 18, just six months after being discharged from the eating disorder unit of a neuropsychiatric hospital. We married young (21) and had children right away.

I knew that the eating disorder I’d struggled with for five years wasn’t fully resolved. But I did what so many women do: I believed I could put my own needs high on a shelf for the next twenty years, raise my children, and then pick back up where I’d left myself off.

Of course, it didn’t work that way.

My kids grew up with a mom who was barely surviving. Oh, how I wish they’d had a mom who was intentionally thriving!

Giving Our Guilt to God

Over the holidays, my 26-year-old daughter, Annemarie, and I sat at the kitchen table, drinking tea and chatting about how God is working in our lives.

As I shared some of the self-care and boundary-setting decisions I’d recently made, Annemarie responded, “I’m so proud of the choices you’re making, Mom! This is such incredible growth for you.”

“I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to deal with my issues,” I said, deflecting her praise with guilt. “I wish I’d made these kinds of choices twenty years ago.”

Annemarie reached across the kitchen table, put a hand on mine, and her next words took my breath away:

“Mom, you need to know that the 6-year-old in me is watching you, too.”

For so many years, I thought it was too late. The damage was done. It was too late for me to change, to become a better mom, to be the kind of mom my kids needed and deserved.

But my daughter’s words told a different story. They reminded me that God really can
“restore … the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25, KJV).

Today, if you’re a parent who feels overwhelmed by regret, here are four truths you need to know:

1)  You’re not alone.

2)  It’s never too late.

3)  You can change.

4)  Even the smallest change you make makes a difference that matters.

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Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifesto that will carry you through the rest of your life?  Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.

Giveaway

Kathi and Cheri would like to send a copy of Overwhelmed: Quiet the Chaos & Restore Your Sanity to one of our readers!

To qualify for the drawing, you need to do TWO things:

#1. LEAVE A COMMENT below.

#2. SHARE THIS POST on social media.

That’s it! Once you do both, your name will be entered into the random drawing. Be sure to tell your friends so they can sign up too. The drawing will take place on Friday night so don’t delay! {Contest is limited to US & Canadian readers only.}

About Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?

Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…

  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present

You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.

Bios

Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.

Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.