Thursday, May 14, 2009

A couple thoughts on obedience

Last night in our Shepherding a Child's Heart study we were talking about obedience and I had a couple thoughts. I have always just defined obedience as "doing what you're told to do." Tedd Tripp, however, defines it this way:

"Obedience is submission to God's authority that causes a child to do what he is told to do, without arguing, without stalling, and without challenging."

I really like his definition. We've been working to teach Eliana to obey right away, without delay, with a good attitude every day. In doing this, I have realized a couple things. First, it is a good time to train Eliana that obedience is an attitude of the heart. It is not just what she does, but the attitude with which she does it, too. We can use this as a time to talk about what is going on in her heart when she doesn't want to obey. We can also use it as a time to teach her about submission and authority. We want her to obey not because we are the parents and she needs to submit to our will, but because we all need to submit to God's will. We are all under God's authority, and in His infinite wisdom He has set up a hierarchy of authority here on earth to maintain order in His creation. Ellie's obedience isn't to us, it is to God and who He has put as the authority in her life. The same is true of us. We honor and respect and submit to our bosses and pastors and husbands and president not because they are worthy of it, but because HE is and He is the one who put them in authority over us. It is not obedience to them, it is obedience to Him. So that was one thought that I had about how this idea of obedience as more than a set of actions fulfilling a specific request will benefit our children.

The second thing I realized about teaching Eliana to obey without arguing, stalling, or challenging is that it maintains peace in our home more than I thought it would. I really thought it would cause more problems because I would have to discipline her CONSTANTLY for stalling as she "obeyed" or argued with me. We already felt like we were disciplining her a lot, and to add tighter boundaries to that seemed like it would make the discipline never ending, heightening tension in our home. As it turns out, the opposite is true, and not because she now obeys all the time right away without complaint. The change comes when we discipline her immediately. Before, I would ask Eliana to do something, and she would say, "Just a minute" and I would let her have a minute or a few. Then I would ask her again and tell her to do it right away, not in a minute. So she would get up and start to obey, but go very slowly. I would get frustrated and try to motivate her to do what I asked, sometimes trying to build her excitement about cleaning her room ("Let's play a clean-up game!") or bribing her ("When you clean up your room we can do something fun together!") or dangling consequences in front of her to remind her what she wanted to avoid ("Remember that if you don't obey I will have to spank you."). In the process of all of that, her attitude didn't change at all, but mine did. I got frustrated and irritated, and then I would have to take a time out for myself before disciplining her, which just put more distance between the offence and the consequence. Then the next time I didn't want to get frustrated, so I was tempted just to let the offence slide and ignore her stalling or arguing. What I have found in the past couple weeks of requiring immediate obedience is that she gets more spankings, but they are given in love because I want her to learn to obey for the right reasons, with the right attitude, because her submission is to God, not to me. She doesn't understand it all right now, but she is starting to form a clearer picture of how the hierarchy of authority works. I am not frustrated when I discipline her, because my desire is that she learn to love and obey God, and it's not about me or my power. She knows the consequences and does not fight them as much because they are more consistenly administered. It does not mean that there is never tension over disobedience, but it does mean that the tension is much less because we approach the discipline differently.

There is a lot more that I could say on the subject, and a lot more that I want to go into. But I still need to get ready for today and head into town, so I'll leave it at that for now. If you've never read it (or if you've read Shepherding a Child's Heart and want more), I STRONGLY recommend reading Instructing a Child's Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp. Perhaps you won't agree with everything they have to say, but it is good food for thought.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Potty Chair

When we first started potty training Ellie, we got her one of those little training potty chairs so she could sit on her own. Well, now she is able to get up onto the big potty by herself and doesn't need to use the little potty. So we've taken it out of the bathroom.

I stored it downstairs for a while and then realized that it might still come in handy from time to time, especially since Ellie is in panties full time during the day now. So.... here's a new trick we've found very helpful...

Keep the training potty in the car!

Yesterday we made the 2 hour drive to Billings for Mother's Day. We had the potty in the back of the car and 3 times on the way home Ellie needed to use the bathroom when we weren't ANYWHERE near a restaurant, gas station, rest stop, or even house. (That happens in Montana when you're driving...). So we pulled off the next exit or pull out and she went in the little potty (which we promptly dumped in the weeds on the side of the road - I don't want pee sloshing around my car!) and we went on our way! She didn't have to hold it for another 30 minutes until we found an exit with a bathroom, and we didn't have to try to strip her bare on the side of the road so could go without hitting her clothing.

It's pretty good for emergencies when you're potty training, and worth a try if you're finding yourself putting your kid in pull-ups for long road trips since you might not be able to find a bathroom in time.

Snow Cones

When your yard looks like this on April 24:


I am pretty sure this is the best response:


Snowcones! Made with real snow... It's a pretty good way to make a little girl happy!







When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But when Spring gives you snow, make snowcones!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dinosaur Playground

Remember when I raved about the community park in Livingston? Well, it looks like we'll be getting one of our own in a month! And, much to Ellie's delight I am sure, it will be a dinosaur themed park, called the Dinosaur Playground.

I can't tell very well from the picture exactly what the play areas will be like, but I'm excited to find out when the park is built!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

B is for But...

"But He was wounded for our transgressions." Isaiah 53:5

That was last week's verse. I asked Eliana what "transgressions" were, since that is definitely not a word we use regularly with her. You know what she answered? She told me that a transgression is "when we don't obey God." That's pretty much the sum of it!

So far Ellie's getting the verses in about a week. We start a new verse every Monday and by the next Monday she's got the previous one down. I'm not emphasizing the references too much, though I do review them with her and they are in the songs. So as of now she knows both A and B, Isaiah 53:5 and 6.

It's exciting to see her learning God's word!

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart

We recently purchased the Melissa and Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart for Eliana. We are not so much using it as a reward chart as we are a way to keep track of the things she is supposed to be doing every day. And so far, she is very excited about it. I am excited about it because I tend to forget to keep her on a "routine", which means I often forget things in her schedule like brushing her teeth. They are routine for me, but not for her yet, so I'm trying to get to that place. And for her, she gets to put a smiley face down when she does it, so it's exciting and she remembers to do it! =D

There are lots of "responsibilities" included with this chart. They range from things like dishes and homework to no teasing and stop whining. Because there are things we expect Eliana to do all the time ("say please and thank you", "aplogize to someone", "share") I doubt we will ever use those magnets. At least not as part of this chart. They need to be done more than once a day, so I don't know how you would use the smiley faces in conjunction with them. There are plenty of others that we will use, though, as part of her schedule, such as making her bed (which we don't have her do right now) or taking care of a pet (when we someday have one).

Right now our schedule reads:
*Get Dressed
*Brush Teeth
*Empty Dishwasher
*Clean Up Room
*Put Clothes in Wash
*Take a Bath
*Get Ready for Bed

Generally, the first 3 are done in the morning (getting dressed, brushing teeth, and emptying the dishwasher). It is her job to put away the silverware when I empty the dishwasher. Just to explain that we don't expect our 2 year old to empty the whole dishwasher. =D The last 4 are part of her bedtime routine. Cleaning up her room, putting her clothes in the wash (really, putting them in the hamper in the closet when she takes them off for her bath), taking a bath, and getting ready for bed.

If nothing else, I hope this chart will help me be a little more regular about her routine, and help her learn that routines are important and good for helping us make sure the things that need to be done get done.

As for the set itself, I think the wood and magnet quality seem to be good. I have yet to be disappointed by a Melissa and Doug product as far as quality is concerned, and this isn't any different. As mentioned above, I think some of the "responsibilities" are a little odd given that they shouldn't be a once a day thing, but then maybe everyone doesn't expect their children to be polite all the time and once a day will suffice. Who knows. I do sort of wish that they had put the chart on the bottom panel and the storage panel on the top so that I could stand the chart up like an easel instead of hanging it. It's too heavy to hang on a fridge (I can't find any magnetic hooks that are strong enough to hold it), and I don't really know of another good place to hang it. So I do wish that were different in the design, just for versatility. Overall, though, I'm pleased with it so far.