Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Dealing with whinging

Over the last few months Joshua's whinging has become worse. He does have good and bad days - or rather,bad and worse days - but there has been a steady downward progression. The girls can both be stubborn and everyone has been answering back a lot lately. They are never outright rude but can say things that are very disrespectful, such as "I hate you Mummy", or simply pull their "chook's bum face" and say "No!" They do obey instructions, but it is with much grumbling and downcast face.

I have been thinking a lot about how best to deal with this escalating situation. I know that I do need to start requiring first time obedience, that is, that they come to me immediately when I call their name. But I think I also need to teach them something about the whys and wherefores of this whole obedience thing. Children are told in the Bible, (Ephesians 6:1) "Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." They are also told (Colossians 3:20) "Obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." These verses tell us and our children the what and why of obedience. So we, the parents, know that we should hold this standard before our children. But my children need to know more than the actual rule of obedience. They need to be taught what attitude they should adopt when obeying.

So the children and I are learning the following verses together. Philippians 2:14-16a tells us, "Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life." (So far, we've learnt up to "without fault".) This verse is helpful to us because it tells us in what manner children should obey their parents (and in what manner wives should obey their husbands, or the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit): without complaining or arguing. No grumbling!

Not only that, but this verse explains why we should do everything without complaining: so that we may be the people God wants us to be, people who are righteous and perfect; according to God's standards, we are to be blameless. Furthermore, as we do things without complaining and arguing, we will shine like stars beside those who do not behave in such a way: the difference will be readily apparent between us and those who are not cheerfully obedient. We will be lights which point people to Jesus. Indeed, our obedience given without complaint or argument will enable us to effectively evangelise our friends and acquaintances, as we share with them the good news of eternal life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Wow!

These verses have given us magnificent inspiration for doing all things in a manner worthy of Jesus Christ, who died so that we might be justified before God's throne of judgement. I know that I am encouraged by my own words of exhortation to my children as I have repeated these verses many times over the past few days. And there has been a noticeable improvement in the children's attitudes, especially Joshua's. He has really been making an effort to do things without his usual whinge, and has stopped whinging very quickly when I have reminded him of the verse.

I must admit, I have also accompanied this doctrinal teaching with some earthly rewards: I've been giving the kids little yellow smiley stickers when I notice them being cheerfully obedient. Throughout the day, each successive sticker they get is slightly bigger than the last, symbolising just how good their attitude has been. Each new day, they start again with small stickers. They're competing to be the one child who can get the biggest smiley face of the whole page of stickers. I'm really pleased that this uniting of reward with reason is having the desired effect on their behaviour.

The best thing from my perspective, though, is that I am being challenged and drawn on to a better attitude myself. I too am trying to "do everything without complaining or arguing." You should have seen me last night, cleaning the disgracefully dirty floor (underneath where the washing machine had been up until it was moved to the garage for repairs yesterday). I just got right on with the job. The Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in me this week!

(Image from Usenet.)

1 comment:

mom24 said...

I like what you've said about obeying so that we can be lights to others. I haven't said that to mine yet. J just turned 7 ad he grumbles a lot while Rachel just whines and stick out her lip (often we get a fit too).
There is nothing, however, like God's own word to reach the heart! Memorizing those verses as well as working on your own example (goodness do they mirror ME!) are great ways to improve this behavior (rather than white knuckling it by saying "I'll just be a more consistent Mom/Mum"). I have seen that when I remind Rae, even in the throws of a fit, that she is grieving the Holy Spirit and choosing NOT to serve Jesus, I can see her eyes change as she actually hears me.
I know that GOd will bless your efforts to better train your children to do all things without grumbling!