The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DISCIPLINE: Practice obedience at home (#4 out of 8 great tips)

“Mexican food sounds great,” I said. So off to Sabor a Mexico we went for an enjoyable and filling meal. Our friends had two kids, 13 and 4. Both were active boys, energetic and full of life. As we entered, our friends asked for a booster seat for the 4 year old, a request that still puzzles me to this day. The little guy never used it. He sat in mom’s lap, then his dad’s lap, then under the table, then he was off to explore. He explored the other tables and the TV, popping back up at our table to interrupt conversation, grab a bite, and then take off again. Our friends attempted to correct him once, which he ignored. At that point they just kept their eye on him and enjoyed their meal. Several other people did not enjoy theirs, including me.

Another place that you can see similar scenes like this is at Wal-Mart. Muscular, 220 pound dads often chase little guys around saying, “Come back here. . .Don’t touch that. . . Put that back. . .”

These public displays are windows into what happens--or doesn’t happen--at home. Obedience and behavior are learned at home. Practice restaurant behavior at home. If your kids go out to eat and they run all over the restaurant and climb under the tables, you have some homework to do. Take them home. Set the table and act like you are at a restaurant. Use your own mealtimes to teach them how to act when you go out. Practice the right kind of behavior and enforce it. The next time you go out, if you don’t get what you practiced, pack up and go home immediately.

Home life itself will run much more smoothly if you plan a schedule and practice how things are done. A morning routine might look like this:

Wake up

Wash your face and get dressed

Make your bed

Read your Bible

Set the table

Ask if you can help with breakfast

Take a few minutes and jot down what you want your child’s morning to look like. Do the same thing with the first thirty minutes at home from school and then with bedtime. You will never regret taking the necessary time to train your children. Every situation demands appropriate responses and actions. Develop routines and procedures for the activities that you do often. It will reap great dividends.

Tips we’ve netted: When our children were small, Patricia would write a schedule for the day including story time, play time, outdoor time, swim time, clean up time, meals, snacks, naps, etc. She used pictures and symbols instead of words so that the kids could “read” it for themselves.

Quote: “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.” Charles Reade

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

DISCIPLINE: Tell them once (#3 out of 8 great tips)

“How many times do I have to tell you not to run through the house?” I asked.

“Sixty-seven,” came the reply as she scurried down the hall and into her room.

I felt relieved. Only sixty-seven more times and then she would obey. I made up my mind right then to sit down with her that very evening and tell her “Do not run through the house!” sixty-seven times. Wow! Tomorrow would be a good day. . . no more running in the house. The magic number would have been reached, and peace would reign in our home. No more running, no more screaming after the little speedster, no more calling back over her shoulder—just sixty-seven more times.

I hope you are amused; but seriously, throw out the “how many times. . .?” question. Train your children, don’t talk them to death. Many parents use words and then more words and then louder words and then harsher words until our words are either meaningless or abusive.

TELL THEM ONCE. Then be ready to back up your words with action. Your actions give meaning to your words. Ecclesiastes 8: 11 states, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” To state this positively: Quick actions by parents build a right response in a child. Failure to act multiplies wrong responses.

Here is how “telling them once” should look. You either call him to you, or you go to him. Get close. This gets his attention with his eyes, ears, and body focused on you. Keep your instruction short and clear. (Remember tip #2, Don’t say, “OK?”). Ask him to repeat what you told him, then check up on him to make sure it is done. This is training, not telling. Be ready with an appropriate action. If he obeyed, acknowledge it. “Great job.” Give a hug. Reward him. Do something positive. If he did not obey, point it out. Show your disapproval with your face. Then do something. Choose an appropriate consequence and follow through. Make sure he gets this message: Mom’s words matter.

Train yourself first! If you train yourself to do these things, you will be training your children to live with character.

Tips we’ve netted: Age-old wisdom says “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This means that positive rewards are more effective than negative consequences. David Walsh gives three steps to being encouraging: 1) identify the positive behavior, 2) label it as good, and 3) express appreciation.

Quote: “Catch them doing right!”

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

DISCIPLINE: Direct your children (#2 out of 8 great tips)

Going to Baskin-Robbins should be fun, right? Why was this so frustrating? Patricia and I strolled into the ice cream store with visions of being caring, giving, joyful parents with two grateful, polite, and happy kids who would end up with ice cream all over their happy little faces. They would look up at us and say, “You are wonderful parents.” And of course, they would be right. . .but things were not going according to plan. Unfortunately, the kids had not read my script.

We got into the store where we faced 31 delicious flavors, each of them calling out to our little ones, “Choose me, choose me!” Of course, we didn’t hear that because we have adult ears. We said to our little ones, “What would you like?”

Whatever gave us the idea that a six-year-old and a four-year old could suddenly be confronted with this host of tempting flavors and simply make a decision to choose one? In short, we were nuts! They simply could not decide. They went into overload, like a computer trying to handle too much information too quickly, everything started to slow down. They just could not decide and be happy with their decisions. So. . . we stepped in.

We narrowed the choices down to three. Then they could focus and choose. We trimmed the options down so that they could handle it. This is one way that parents direct children: NARROW THE OPTIONS! How little we realize that we create problems by giving children too many choices too soon. The time will come soon enough that they will have more choices than we can control. As they grow we widen the options as they are ready.

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just . . . (Gen. 18:19 )

God chose Abram in order for him to direct his children. In the beginning when they are young, we don’t negotiate; we don’t say, “OK?” after each instruction. We give direction; we are the parents. We give direction; we are the parents. We give direction; we are the parents. We give. . .

Gathered tips on giving directions: O’Shea and Windell, in their book Fatherstyle Advantage, say, “Make sure it is absolutely clear what is a command and what is a request. If you don’t mean it as a request (which has an option attached to it), then don’t state it that way."

Quote for the week: "Kids today are exposed to more stories that are more powerfully presented than at any time in history. Some are good. Too many are not. We as parents, must choose our children’s media stories carefully. Why? Because whoever tells the stories defines the culture." David Walsh, NO

Question for next week: Share a routine that makes life easier for your family.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Discipline: The stern look

It was Sunday night in church. As usual a knot of youth were sitting together about half way back on the left. Six rows up, on the second pew sat out pastor’s little wife. She was the model pastor’s wife, sweet, business like, serious yet caring. While her husband was preaching, somebody made a noise that attracted her notice. She turned and looked at all of us. Her eyes were like a searchlight, her brow knit, her lips tight; the effect almost magical. That little group of youth were transformed into intense listeners for the rest of that meeting and she did it with a look. My junior English teacher had the look, my dad had the look.

Proverbs 20:8 makes this statement:

When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

A person of authority has a certain ability to deal with wrongdoing with his eyes. Sometimes this is more effective than words because we open our mouths and show that we do not really know what is going on. As a young teacher in my first classroom, I came in from the hallway to find everyone in their seats preparing for class except for two boys. The bell had not rung and I had no real suspicions that they were doing anything wrong. I was curious; so I just looked at them. One of them saw me, said something to his friend and they went sheepishly seats. Whatever they were doing, their own consciences were provoked by my gaze.

Here’s the goal: develop a stern look. If you don’t know how, do this. Stand in front of a mirror, grit your teeth and press your lips together, narrow your eyebrows, and stare for five seconds. Practice this look of disapproval a few times and then at the right moment this week, try it on your kids. We would love to hear how it works for you.

Question for next week: What makes your discipline successful?