It’s Not All About Behavior…
It’s not all about behavior, but sometimes I wish it was. I wish we could just address each behavior, deal with it and move on. But when it comes to our kids – it’s never just about the behavior. In the words of John Crist – we have to check their hearts.
It’s ALL about their heart. Our girls are 2 and 4 years old – learning how to shepherd their hearts has been quite the challenge. And we still have such a long way to go. We want them to feel loved and cherished, but also learn self control when things aren’t going their way. It’s a tough balance to find – but we’re learning. Paul Tripp says it best:
“As a parent you are never, ever dealing just with the words and actions of your children. You are always also dealing with the thing that controls their words and behavior: the heart.”
We’re learning about emotions – that it’s ok to have big emotions and feelings. It’s ok to not always agree with Mom and Dad. It’s ok to question us when you don’t understand. It would be easy to answer with, “because I said so!” when the questions arise. But our kids are curious and longing for reasons, not just rules.
I’m currently reading “Why I Didn’t Rebel” by Rebecca Gregoire Lidenbach. One thing that stood out to me above the rest is the idea of creating reasons not rules. If my four year old knows why a rule is in place, she is much more likely to comply (most of the time). But if I give blanket statements and expect her just to listen because I’m Mom, that doesn’t work out so well. It’s when I take the time to explain why we have to wait our turn when someone else is speaking. I often ask her how she would like to be treated, and if she would like to finish speaking before being interrupted. Now she has the chance to understand why we don’t interrupt others. She has a very big personality, and loves attention of any kind, so fostering that can be a challenge at times – but it’s one I want to face head on.
Growing up, I did a lot of listening and obeying out of fear of the consequences. It worked. I made my fair share of bad choices, but I didn’t spiral into a rebellion because of fear of what would happen. I never truly had the desire to live fully devoted to the Lord until I completely surrendered to Him on my own. My hope is that my children won’t obey out of fear, but that eventually they will learn that this life is not about them, but about Jesus. It’s pretty hard for a two and four year old to grasp that concept, but we can’t let that keep us from talking about why we were created in the first place.
There are a number of books out there on discipline. I’ve read way too many. But out of all of the books I’ve read, one thing remains true – we are here to shepherd their hearts. There is no magic formula or something I could say to get my kids to obey. But I do know one thing – the more time I invest in them, the more likely they are to respond positively. I don’t say that to put any pressure on anyone, because I’ve done that to myself. I use it as a reminder to keep myself in check. There is usually a root cause of their behavior. After addressing the behavior in that moment, I will try to figure out why it happened. I’ll wait till a calm time of day, like right before bedtime, and talk to them about what happened. They are usually much more receptive once their emotions have settled.
The good news is we cannot change the heart of our child, only God can truly do that. It takes the pressure off. We can guide them and lead them, but God has to get a hold of their heart for true change to happen.
There are days when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Honestly that’s most days. But I do think that we don’t have to just “survive” the toddler years. I believe that we can live an abundant life now, and we don’t need to wait until this phase is over. Because once one phase is over, another one follows. Parenting has been a constant challenge of figuring out what works best for our family, and for each child. It’s never easy, but we’re praying our way through it and adjusting as needed. I love this quote from Paul Tripp:
“in every moment when you are parenting, you are being parented. In every moment when you are called to give grace, you are being given grace. In every moment when you are rescuing and protecting your children, you are being rescued and protected. In every moment when you feel alone, you are anything but alone because he goes wherever you go.”
If you feel like you’re in the trenches of toddlerhood – know that you’re not alone. He is there with us – giving us grace and protecting us. And you don’t have to do this mom thing alone. Finding like minded moms that “get it” has saved my sanity on those rough days. I am determined to make the most of these toddler years and I hope you’ll join me. There are so many moms I look up to that have been where we are, and have made it to the other side. I hear things like, “it gets better,” and “it’s just a phase.” And while I know those things are true – I pray that these years don’t just turn into a blur. I don’t want to just survive; I want to live this live abundantly, regardless of the age of my children.
Thanks so much for reading, and for being here. I’d love to hear your heart on this, please leave a comment below so we can chat!