Saturday, January 17, 2009

Best Parenting Advice. Ever.

A while back, I received some stellar parenting advice from a bloggy friend (Jenny). Thank-you, girlfriend! Let me just tell you...Jenny is chalk full of wisdom, and she is willing to take the time to answer personal questions (not a lot of wise people are also willing, but that's just one of the beautiful things about her). Here, this post is part of an email she sent me.

We've been pretty slow at getting started, but little by little we are changing the way we teach our children. Rather than tell them what to do and punish them when they do wrong, we are attempting to show them.

The best way to form a habit is to repeat it. Over and over again. (Kinda like how it's Pat's habit, after years of rehearsing, to hit the snooze button at least 4 times each morning.) "Practice makes perfect." Right?

Katherine talks some more about this concept at her place, Raising Five (look for the post titled "Rip and Burn"). I love her analogy!

Some things I like to use the "rip and burn" method with are: sibling rivalry, disrespect, feeling frustrated/needing help, hurt feelings. Because our kids are still pretty young, Pat and I typically play the roles first. It's fun to act out the wrong behaviour and ask the kids how we could have done it differently. Then, we ask them to show us. It's the act of...well, acting, that brings it home for them. They are rehearsing the appropriate responses for certain situations, which makes those responses feel more natural in the actual situations.

If you're like me, and finding that the "traditional" parenting methods are not really effective, I challenge you to try this. Not only does it work, it can even be a little bit fun!


  1. We have one child specifically who is not responding in any way to the traditional parenting approach! I'll have to go back and read the posts you linked to when I have some time later. I've been looking for a good character training curriculum to use in our homeschool, but can't find a good one anywhere! Obviously the Bible is really all you need, but I was looking for something with ready-made lessons and coloring sheets, etc. Okay, kind of off topic now. Thanks for the post!

  2. It's definitely important to be flexible with kids and teach in the way they respond to best, which means always adapting and finding new ways to teach lessons that will stick with them. I would say that we try to show our boys when we're convinced they really don't know what to do, and we tell them when we know they have a full command of the requirement and are just ignoring / being lazy / being childish.

    Of course, a big part of "showing" your kids is creating a loving environment and showing respect to everyone around you (and ultimately around them). Kids pick up almost all of their social queues and expectations from their parents at an early age.. there really is no substitute for "Showing" in that context and I think that's what you're getting at here.

    I guess the final thing that comes to mind is that God's word is filled with stories about Him where he integrates showing us (e.g., Christ coming to us) and telling us (e.g., the 10 commandments)...

    Kim and I are right there with you - always learning the best way to impact our kids and teach them.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog. My son is 20 months so he is not at the level to do this type of parenting yet. However, it really hit home! I will certainly remember it when it comes time. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Tyler!

    I'm glad you're having fun "acting" with your kids! So much better to give them some tools that help them for next time, than to be constantly "behind the game," correcting. I think you are doing a beautiful job with your family. What a joy to watch them grow up!



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