Vol. 5, No. 1
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
~ Page 16 ~
One of the most difficult lessons to learn and apply as mothers is to be consistent in all things. When behavior is acceptable today but not acceptable tomorrow, children become confused and do not know what is expected of them. It is very important that both mother and father are united, in full agreement, with the discipline, behavior and expectations of the children. If a situation should arise that both parents do not agree on a point, they should discuss the disagreement in private and come to a comprise both can accept. This will show a united front to the children, will let them know what is expected of them and will not confuse them.
When we are tired, it is easy to "give in" when a child continually begs for something. Sometimes we find ourselves saying "yes" to avoid a scene. If this happens frequently, our children will realize that, "I can get my way if I cry loud enough or long enough." Sometimes we simply get tired of continually repeating ourselves when asking a child to do something. It becomes easier to do it ourselves. The Scriptures teach that the unrighteous judge succumbed to the widow because she "wearied him" (Luke 18:1-8). While this parable is teaching the need for persistency in prayer, we can learn a secondary lesson. We should not be like the unjust judge and "give in" just because our children "wear us down."
Over the years, I have observed several areas in which a lack of consistency has contributed to problems for families and problems within the church. Let me bring just a few to your attention and encourage you to give them some thought.
When we allow our children to play in the nursery during worship services, we are only prolonging the inevitable need to teach children to sit, pay attention and participate in worship to God. It would be better to train them for worship from birth than to untrain the "play mode" and then retrain the "worship mode." While not every child will sit perfectly still (some children are not still in their sleep), children can be trained to listen and be quiet. This same thought applies to children's classes during the regular worship services. Matthew 18:1-2; Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 9:42 and John 6:1-14 are just a few biblical examples of children being in the midst of Jesus while he was teaching. If the presence of children was encouraged while Jesus was teaching, should it not be encouraged while we worship God?
It is easy to overlook common courtesies in preschool children. This should not be. The best time to teach thank you, please, you are welcome, the use of a napkin and not interrupting while someone is talking is from the beginning. A child learns more the first two years of his life than at any other time. Teach your toddler to say please and thank you. Do not accept "I want" or "give me." Teach your children common courtesies from the beginning and build upon those principles to teach kindness, sharing, love, etc. as they mature.
Many times, we observe a young child do or say something that is "cute." When the child realizes everyone thinks he is "cute," he continues to do that which is "cute" to get attention. Children thrive on praise and attention. A child who has been continually praised for his accomplishments will develop a stronger sense of self-esteem than the child who received criticism and neglect. Thus, when used properly, attention to children will help them to develop into well-rounded adults. However, praise and attention for the wrong activities can create pain and heartache for the child and the parents. Parents, grandparents and other older individuals who influence young children need to be aware of this and guard their comments and reactions accordingly. Mentioned below are a few possible situations where this behavior has an influence on our children.
Our little girls look so cute in short dresses. Our little boys look so cute in bib overalls with no shirt. They get so hot in warm, humid climates that diapers or training pants will keep them cool. Modesty is not an issue when toddlers; however, it does become an issue as children begin to physically mature into young men and women. How do you explain that last summer some type of dress was okay but this summer it is unacceptable? Immodest dress for boys and girls can lead to much heartache. Would it not be better to never have taught something than to have to unteach something? Remember we teach by actions and behavior as well as by words.
Many years ago, I heard a preschool girl using some of the foulest language I have ever heard. Her mother and grandparents thought the words she was using were rather "cute." I know she was simply repeating what she was accustomed to hearing. I do not believe that mom and the grandparents thought her language was all that "cute" when she became a teenager. When we smile and comment favorably, we only contribute to the continuation of such behavior. Along the same line, when we laugh when our one or two year old tells us "no" or exhibit some other disrespectful behavior, we are only encouraging that behavior to continue. We need to discourage this type of behavior through correction and discipline. I have to admit that at times the unacceptable behavior of a young child can be humorous, but we need to try not to encourage that behavior by what the child sees or hears from us.
Consistency in discipline and behavior is difficult to maintain. However, it will produce well-behaved children that will make us proud. Remember, it is easier to teach one type of behavior than to unteach and then reteach.