5 Days of Insight From Motivate Your Child- The Importance of Correction

This week I’m sharing 5 Days of Insight From Motivate Your Child- just a taste of the great things I’ve been learning as I’ve read Motivate Your Child from The National Center for Biblical Parenting. You can find all of the links to the book, my review, and the 5 days of posts here. In today’s post I’m sharing some of the things that I’ve learned about the value of correction in our parenting.

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I have a little confession to make about correction. In my house, correction might go something like this.
Me: Whose turn is it to walk the dog?
Me: Whose turn is it to walk the dog?
Child: I think it is _________ turn. (Names another child who is playing a video game.)
Me (to child playing video game): You need to go walk the dog.
Child: Just wait. Just wait. Let me get to the end of this round.
Me: Can you tell me about how long that will be?
Child: I’m not sure. I just need to get to the end. (Begins to become agitated and huffy.)
Me (more frustrated): You can have a few minutes, but then you need to walk the dog.
Child: Fine. (Tosses remote down.) I died anyway. (Stands up huffily and walks toward dog with as much attitude as possible.)
Me: I don’t appreciate your attitude. When you get back in, we are going to talk.
Child walks dog and comes back in with as much bumping and shuffling and stomping as possible.
Me: When I ask you to do something and you are playing a game, what should you do?
Child (shrugging shoulders, rolling eyes): Do it.
Me launches into a ten minute long lecture about heart attitudes and obedience and correct responses.
Me (ten minutes later): Do you understand and are you going to change your behavior?
Child (with glassy eyed stare): Sure
I have good intentions. But I think there is something lost in the actual process.
And then I read: “Unfortunately, many parents spend too much time talking about what children are doing wrong and not what they need to do right instead.” That is thought provoking. Perhaps I don’t quite get the whole point and method of correction sometimes. And, maybe my correction isn’t effective because I’m not really focusing on the right things and using the right tools. Here are some of the great tidbits I’ve picked up about correction.

* Words are important. In several places in the book, the authors mention knowing what kids need to be saying in their hearts to do the right thing and then saying those words to the kids again and again while coaching their behavior.

One example given in the book is using key phrases with a child with ADHD. Instead of constantly fussing and saying negative things, the parents in the example used phrases that they wanted their son to take to heart, phrases that would guide him into making the right choices- “Slow down.” “Think before you speak.” “Manage your energy.” It makes sense that using these phrases again and again in the process of correction will help the child to internalize them. (And it sure makes more sense than my ten minute lecture that probably went in one ear and out the other.)
Using the verse Psalm 19:14 ( May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your site, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.) as a basis, the authors give this quote: “When parents choose their words carefully, they’re contributing to the right kind of meditation for their children.” That really makes me stop and think. I don’t need more words- like my long lecture. Instead I need the right words to guide my children into thinking the right things.
* Know when to take action. The book’s authors use the words “action point” to indicate that point at which parents will stop talking and take action. It’s that moment when you’ve said “Stop playing and go get ready for bed” three times, each time successively louder. And then, after time three, you snap and yell the words. Then the child has just learned that he doesn’t have to respond until mom’s voice gets loud.
The authors emphasize the need for kids to know the difference between your suggestion and your instruction. An instruction needs to be clearly given and worded so that the child knows exactly what he is supposed to do and knows it isn’t an option. Once it’s clear that you are giving an instruction, you need to take action if the instruction isn’t followed. The book does deal with some practical suggestions for consequences- which I’ll touch on another day- but the authors also say that sometimes parents jump into the consequences too quickly. Sometimes there are other things that can- and should- be done first.
The authors emphasize the importance of parental involvement. Sometimes I know I throw out a consequence because I’m through dealing with the behavior, and I just want to move on. But the authors say “What children often need is more parenting, not more space, so that they can develop the internal response necessary for developing responsibility and an internal commitment to do what’s right.” The authors emphasize the effectiveness of something as simple as just moving to stand right beside the child in close proximity and repeating the instruction.

This  close parental involvement isn’t always easy. It’s more time consuming than simply throwing out a consequence or yelling and then moving on. But developing character and internal motivation in our kids takes time and effort.
* Correction is a positive thing. I think my kids usually view correction as a negative thing. Probably because I view correction as a negative thing. You get corrected because you were wrong. So it must be bad. Right? Wrong.
The book shares several verses such as Proverbs 6:23 to underscore the value of correction. This verse says “The corrections of discipline are the way to life.” Correction is a good thing. It’s what we use to teach, to guide our kids as they change the attitudes of their heart and develop an internal desire to do right. Correction isn’t a bad thing.
This quote- “It’s not the fact that you’re corrected that determines weakness. Rather it’s the response to correction that’s important.”- perfectly sums up what we should be teaching our kids. If we can learn to value correction then we can teach our kids to value it and respond correctly to it. The authors emphasize a four part discipline process that I won’t spoil for you because you really need to read it in detail. But, the process ends on a positive note. It ends with the statement “Okay. Go ahead and try again.” Correction can lead the child to be able to try again to do the right thing.

There are so many valuable things I’m learning from Motivate Your Child. The authors give encouragement early on in the book, letting parents know that it’s worth it to use these tools and strategies no matter what ages your kids are. There is value whether you’re the parent of babies and toddlers or the parent of teens. This is encouraging to me because my kids are headed to the upper side of the age range. I have two teens, and my youngest is already nine. I don’t want to read parenting advice that causes me to throw up my hands with an “Oh well. It’s too late now.” But the authors of Motivate Your Child emphasize that all parents can learn from these strategies. And the practical examples they give throughout the book use kids from all ages as examples.
In tomorrow’s post, I’m going to look at some great things the book has to say about consequences. And remember you can find links to all of the posts and to the book here.

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