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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Children want to Obey

I have never met a child who doesn't want to obey his parents.

Sounds like a ridiculous statement doesn't it? But it's true.

Disruptive or out of control children have never failed to let me know through counseling that they don't want to disobey. It's not their choice to be a discipline problem but something or someone has created so much pain in their lives that they feel they have "no" choice.

Parents must always remember that they are dealing with "inexperienced" individuals. We must be aware of the age related abilities of our children. They don't look at life in the same way we do. They don't have wisdom about outcomes or consequences. They are plagued with fears and half-truths. While we think in a straight line of cause vs. outcome - their little minds will take them around every bend and present temptations all along the way.

Most of the time acting out or being a discipline problem is a result of fear. They know they should comply but something has hurt them and they just don't know how to comply and handle the pain. For example, Tom - an adult executive - has to take classes to learn how to speak in public. We don't tease him, instead we pat him on the back. "Good Job, Tom. Don't you feel better for doing something about your fear."

Yet, when our child is reprimanded by the teacher for not speaking up in class, we join in. "What's the matter with you. What's so hard about raising your hand and answering a question?" Since our child wants to please us, they promise to try. If teasing or failure is the result - they slip into the zone of "I don't care. I'm different. I can't do this. If I'm so lame, I might as well just let it all go including my temper."

Some adults think it would be easier to take the stress or problem away rather than teach the child to handle it. Making school so easy that even the laziest child can get a good grade defeats everyone in the classroom.

The real answer is training. The only way to truly help our children is to take the time to ask questions. "This seems hard for you. What's going on? Are you afraid? Does this make you feel bad?"
If there is a problem, you must be ready with an answer or at the very least you be committed to find a way to help your child overcome his/her fears.

Once you design your plan, be sure and follow it with comforting hugs and compliments like, "Good job Sarah! I knew you could do it! I'm so proud of you for trying!" Be your child's cheerleader and biggest supplier of hugs!

Understanding where our children are and looking at life from their level will always be more successful than trying to "force" them into compliance. Training and understanding is your greatest tool.

God loves you,


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