Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Children Are Our Mirrors

If we have humble hearts, our children can serve as mirrors into our souls-Revealing our own strengths and weaknesses.

I haven’t had any free time to write for the past few days~! Things have been busy busy busy!

I have been reading Preschoolwise, one in a series of books on child-rearing called Babywise (Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam). The book talks about taking the time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your child. What does she do well? Where does she require the most correction? What virtues does she gravitate toward and which ones does she lack in? It encourages parents to consider settings some short and long term goals in the areas of moral training, academic skills, and spiritual training. After the age-appropriate goals are set, its then time to devise a workable routine and structure your child’s daytime activities to help achieve the goals. You know the famous quote (anybody know who said it?) “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”

For example, I have recently noticed that Lillian has a tendency to bounce from one activity to the next throughout the day without really finishing anything. She will scribble at a picture for a few minutes and then be looking for the next thing. She will get interested in a make-believe game of kitchen/store and then wander over to look at something else.

The weakness I defined was – impulsivity and a tendency to rush through something to get to the next thing. I was talking to my husband about this and he had a slight smile slip across his face. I asked him why and he said, “Well, Jodi – who also struggles in those areas in this house?” Dang, D.J.!

I started thinking about where Lilli might have learned that (yes girls…you are right) and recognized it is habit I have formed for myself. I know that this weakness could become a problem in for her in the future; causing her to develop into an impatient and discontented adult if she did not learn the good habits of focusing, self-control, and concentration.
So to achieve my goal I decided to set aside specific times of the day to help her work on “sticking with” an activity. Two days a week Lilli comes home from preschool to show off her artwork. I have noticed a trend of uncompleted art projects and rushed attempts at coloring. I knew Lil was capable of completing the artwork, but disinterested in sticking with the task. I also have seen loads of her classmates school work, and have seen how carefully and attentively they are on coloring. My child is not jumpy, but when I observed her she would color two or three strokes and then put the crayon down, asking for it to be story time.

First, I decided to work on “completing” a coloring activity at home. I took construction paper and drew the bubble letter “L” on it, instructing her to do her best to color the entire “L” and stay in the lines. Literally thirty seconds later she said she was done. What I saw was a few scribbled crayon lines and no real attempt to complete the project. I was ready with more copies of the same coloring page. So I gave her another piece of paper, with the same “L” and the same instructions. I told when she was done I wanted to deliver the picture to Daddy’s office later that day to show him her work. Four pictures later she was catching my drift…We have done this for a few days in a row know. Today I picked her up from preschool and she was so proud to show me her artwork. Was it Picasso? Absolutely not! But it was almost completed and much more detailed. I saw improvement!

We also try to have “room time” each day, a time where the girls play by themselves in their rooms for about 30 minutes. With the goal of developing these same virtues, last week during room time I gave Lilli one item/toy to play with and instructed her to work on it (mold it, build it, draw it, construct it) for the next 15 to 20 minutes.

When she would abandon the activity and come looking for me because she wanted to do something else, I asked her two questions “Where are you supposed to be right now?” and “What are you supposed to be doing?”

She looked at me dumbfounded. Answering those questions required her to think about what she was supposed to be doing (aka-playing with a certain activity) and also required her to answer, taking responsibility for her answer and for the location of her own little body. It was not me saying “What are you doing??? You should be playing with the princess castle! Get back in there now! I told you not to come out!”

The first day I asked her these questions she was stumped. But I was patient and waited for her responses. And when she gave them, she turned and walked back into her room to play-without me saying a word.

The first day we did this she attempted to abandon the activity twice, both times being redirected by those questions I shared above. The next day, she came out once. Yesterday, she had a ball playing with some legos and cars I put in her room. After 20 minutes she was playing and making up stories about the characters. She didn’t want to stop! In fact, she didn’t want to tidy-up after her room time was over because she enjoyed the activity so much! Whoo hoo!

What I am so surprised with is how BIG we often make the weaknesses of our children by complaining, appeasing, and ignoring them instead of using our wisdom and our resources to create a game plan on how to help them strengthen those virtues – helping to mold a well-rounded kid. After all-isn’t this our “job” as Moms? Not to overlook behaviors- but to help shape“delightful” children, by acknowledging what actions are desired and then lovingly redirecting and teaching our children toward the virtues they are lacking. If your child impatient? Disobedient? Loud? Too Rough? Interrupts too often? Does he not play well with others?

The first step is to evaluate WHO is modeling that behavior in your home.
Is this something he has picked up from his Dad or from you? Or another sibling?

The second step is to pray that God will give you the wisdom, patience, and direction to evaluate how to help your child grow in maturity.

Finally, talk to someone about a “game plan”. This person should be someone who understands your parenting style and your goals. They should be encouraging!

Let me know if anyone has any thoughts on this!

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