By Natalia Nazarova
Raising children is no easy task, and there are no shortcuts. The ever-shifting ocean of emotions that children go through at various ages and stages poses one of the greatest challenges to parents. Here are a few things that I have found helpful in teaching my children to deal with the negative emotions they experience.
Encouraging positive traits such as kindness, appreciation, gratefulness, integrity, and unselfishness at an early age will help prepare them to deal with negative situations they will encounter later.
Reading or watching classics that show the rewards of being positive and solution oriented--Pollyanna and Heidi, for example—impart important life lessons in an enjoyable, memorable way.
Being a friend and confidante in good times makes it easier to discuss and find solutions together when problems arise.
Older children can be shown the futility of giving in to negative emotions. Balance reasoning with lots of encouragement, as well as humor when appropriate.
When I notice negative trends in my children, I first ask myself if they are a reflection of what they see in me. If so, we talk about it from that angle and agree to work on it together. For instance, I’m prone to stress and the negativity it can lead to, but explaining that has helped us avoid problem situations. They understand now that it triggers a negative reaction when they stay up too late or don’t clean their rooms, so they give me more cooperation at those critical times.
When I feel overwhelmed, I stop and pray. That has at least four good effects: It releases frustration, puts things in perspective, gives God an opportunity to straighten out my mess, and serves as a lesson to my children on crisis management.
My husband and I try to not be too quick to provide our children with solutions to the problems and frustrations that cause them to get negative, but rather to help them define the problem and find their own solutions. Games that teach problem solving are also helpful.
There are upsides to most negative situations. When children are discouraged or become negative over something that has happened, try to steer their thinking toward the positive aspects. Again, if they can reach these conclusions themselves, it’s usually more effective than you providing the answers for them.
Originally published in the Activated! magazine. Used with permission.
By Josie Clark
I think I have been guilty of saying “I’m sorry” too much, and that seems to have given my children the wrong idea. Years ago, for example, when my five-year-old fell off his bike, I said I was sorry. I had specifically told him to not ride up the hill on his newly acquired used bike until his dad had checked the brakes and taught him to use them, but he went up the hill anyway.
The brakes worked fine, as it turned out, but he didn’t know what to do and panicked. He sailed down the hill, veered into a cornfield, and caromed back onto the road, where he crashed. He doesn’t remember anything after that, but he was found chin down on the asphalt and needed some stitches. When I arrived at the scene of the accident, I said I was sorry.
Of course, I was sorry. I felt terrible for not having watched him more closely. I felt his pain as we rushed him to the hospital. I still feel sorry every time I notice the scar it left. But somehow, my “sorry-ness” caused a misunderstanding.
A few weeks ago we talked about this event that took place years ago, and he still thought that accident was somehow my fault. He didn’t remember the clear warning. He didn’t remember disobeying. He only remembers me saying I was sorry, which he took at the time to mean that I had been to blame, not him.
Sorry-ness is an easy habit to fall into, and it can develop into a pattern where teens blame their parents for the consequences of their own bad decisions. In reality, if the parents have been doing their job of teaching their children to make smart, responsible decisions, when accidents happen or things go wrong, it is usually the children’s fault for not listening to their parents.
I’m sorry my son disobeyed. I’m sorry he got hurt. And I’m sorry I allowed that misunderstanding to happen. I’m sorry for my sorry-ness. I should have said, “I’m so sorry you disobeyed. I’m sorryyou didn’t listen. I’m sorry this happened, but I’m sure you learned a good lesson and won’t make this same mistake again.”
The happy ending to this story is that I was able to clear up this misunderstanding with my son, who is now a teenager facing much bigger decisions than where to ride his bike. He knows he will always have my help, love, and sympathy, but he also understands that ultimately he bears the responsibility for his decisions.
Taken from Activated! Magazine. Used with permission.
Investing time and thought into planning wholesome activities for your child’s non-school hours and playtime can be the antidote to boredom that you’ve been looking for. It will help your child develop creativity and enable him to take advantage of the precious childhood years, and establish habits for a well-balanced lifestyle for him to enjoy in years to come. Even if you are only able to spend a limited amount of time with your children due to school, your job, etc., the key is focused attention and making your times together quality.
Play Idea Guide Excerpted from Kick the TV Habit, by Steven and Ruth Bennett
Play with Books
* Write (or tell) a sequel. Do you ever wonder what happens after the storybook ends? Well, have your family continue the plots of their favorite books, adding a variety of situations and characters.
* Draw a book report. Here’s a project the whole family can enjoy: Draw five pictures that summarize the plots of some favorite family books. Then have each family member present his or her “report,” and see if everyone else can name the book.
* Meet the characters. Your child may have given oral book reports before, but has he or she ever done so from the perspective of the author? Ask your child to pretend that he or she has penned a favorite book, and then express insights about the characters that only the author can offer.
* Five stars. Does your family have strong opinions about books? Schedule book review sessions, and use them to steer family members toward books that are not already household runaway successes.
* Act the part. Choose a favorite storybook with some great characters, and cast family members in the major roles. Then have your family read the book aloud—with each person portraying a leading character.
Your house is chock-full of new toys and games. All your family has to do is invent them. (Please note, however, that some of the following activities involve small items that may be swallowed by young children. Supervise carefully.)
* Game board. Make your own game board complete with colored spaces, obstacles, pitfalls, and playing cards. Have your child invent his or her own rules.
* Towel tube rocket. Have your kids glue “fins” and a nose cone on an empty paper towel tube, decorate it, and head for outer space!
* Counter’s list. Find things at home that “add up to” a numbered list. For example, you may have one refrigerator, two bathtubs, three chairs, and four smoke detectors. You may even have five family members!
* Invent a machine. Start with an empty box, and glue on plastic lids, bottle caps, buttons, metal washers, pipe cleaners, pictures, bits of string, cardboard arrows, and anything else your kids can imagine. This machine can do anything!
* Town layout. Roll out a large sheet of craft paper or newsprint, and create a town. Add small boxes for buildings and cars, and draw streets, sidewalks, playgrounds, and so on. Now you’re ready to move in!
* Bingo. Make simple bingo cards with letters across the top and numbers down the side. Take turns pulling slips from a large bowl and mark your spaces with buttons. Bingo!
* Homemade memory game. Glue similar pictures from magazines onto small paper or cardboard squares in matching pairs. Mix them up, lay them out facedown, and concentrate! Can you turn over a matching picture pair?
* Spaghetti pick-up sticks. Play pick-up sticks with uncooked spaghetti.
* Sorting race. Fill a bowl with a lot of small items: dry beans, pasta, nuts, etc. Run time trials to see who can sort them out in an empty ice-cube tray (or egg carton) more quickly than last time. As a variation, do the sorting blindfolded!
* Costume hunt. Hide dress-up items around the house, and have your kids find and put them on. Make the search more interesting by marking items with stick-on labels, so each child has his or her own set to locate.
If you want a happier family and happier family life, here’s how: Include Me in everything you do.
I’m not talking about dry, formal, somber religiosity—anything but! You just might be surprised at how much fun I can be! The benefits of including Me are too numerous to list here, but I’ll give you three.
One: I’m full of ideas. My Father and I created this world together—the first-ever family project, if you will—and you’ve got to admit, we came up with some pretty good stuff! If we made it all for you and want you to enjoy it to the full—which we did—don’t you think I can show you better things to do together than to sit semi-comatose in front of a TV?
Two: I can relate. I can relate to every generation and know better than anyone how to bring generations together and keep them together. Don’t forget, I’ve been at this a long time. There’s no situation you face that I haven’t helped others deal with before, so consult with Me the moment you begin to have problems on the home front.
Three: More love. Isn’t that what you want most for your family—love? I am love—the very spirit of love—so where I am, love is. The Bible says that in My presence is fullness of joy, and at My right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). I have so much love to give you and yours—more than you could possibly imagine and much more than you can contain. It’s here for you any time, all the time, just for the asking.
I’m at your beck and call. Just say, “Jesus, thank You for being a part of our family—the head of our family. Be with us now in what we’re about to do.”
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.—Stacia Tauscher
You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.—Franklin P. Jones
Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.—Rabindranath Tagore
There’s nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.—Frank A. Clark
There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.—Walt Streightiff
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.—Elizabeth Stone
Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.—John Wilmot
To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself.—Josh Billings
It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.—Joyce Maynard
Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.—Robert Fulghum
If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.—C.G. Jung
Children have more need of models than of critics.—Carolyn Coats
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.—Charles R. Swindoll
What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give.—P.D. James
If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.—Haim Ginott
In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time.—Author unknown
What’s done to children, they will do to society.—Karl Menninger
You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.—Polish proverb
Kids spell love T-I-M-E.—John Crudele
The guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.—Frank Pittman
Excerpted from the Activated Magazine.