Thought I would share with you a video about play. I was interviewed on the importance of play in life and how it relates to our spirituality. This was produced by the youth pastor, Dustin Comm, from one of the local churches in Calimesa.
Many families have done a great job of teaching the kids to say, “I’m sorry”. If a child/teen calls someone a name they will be reminded to say those two words…I’m sorry. However, true confession isn’t really there until certain steps are followed.
There are three steps to this process confession, repentance, restitution. Many times this is not enough for true forgiveness in the family and can slip into the mundane. I believe it is important to teach children five steps to help them understand the impact of their behavior to others and to show them others have choices.
The five steps to forgiveness
1. Confession. I called you “fat”.
2. Knowledge. I know you don’t like this because it hurts your feelings.
3. Repentance. I am sorry.
4. Response. Will you forgive me?
5. Restitution. How can I make it up to you?
Do you see the difference? It becomes a process of dialogue of problem solving. It also involves choices for both parties. Maybe in step 4 the other person is not ready to forgive. The child who called the name will have to let it rest awhile or maybe have to live knowing they crossed the line for the other person.
In step 5 as you supervise this process, make sure the answer is not, “don’t do it again”. Both children need to really think and work on the process.
One last thought. Asking our children to forgive us for wrongs is very powerful in making connections with our children.
I have been playing the cutest game called “Farm Town”. Now Farm Town is about building a community that will help you harvest your crops, keep in touch, and tend to your farm while you are away (from the computer). We plow and plant, arrange crops and trees, expand our property and eventually have enough coins to buy a house. If I am short of coins, I can to to the marketplace and seek out a job.
As I was mindlessly plowing, my mind began to free associate and I realized this game parallels the rearing of children/teens. The child at birth is essentially an empty field of grass that we can feed, water and generally take care of. In order for the child to grow and mature we must tend to the soil, plant good seeds and harvest.
The plowing is in reality a tuning in, listening, watching and understanding how the child needs to be responded to.
You then decide what type of seed you will plant. Should you sow seeds of kindness or selfishness? Will you choose seeds of love, anger or hatred? Through a gentle touch, words of kindness, or of encouragement and love you are consistently planting the seeds of gentleness, kindness and love.
Here are two things I would have you do to be more aware.
1. Make a list of the ideas you are planting in your child/teen’s brain on a daily basis. Lay it all out there whether it is good or bad.
2. Monitor your words. Here is a good seed to plant, “I love you”, “I am proud of you”. Here is a seed you don’t want planted, ” I love you, but I don’t like you”. *sigh*
Words are powerful – use them carefully.
I simply love a good joke or the perfectly executed prank. April 1st is usually the day to get silly. Personally, I use the entire month to celebrate laughter. I believe that as adults we need to be able to laugh at ourselves and keep some of the heaviness out of our lives.
Humor is rooted in childhood and grows along the same developmental path as your child. Peek-a-boo is a game that we all play with our children and I believe sets the stage for humor development. As your child becomes older have some “knock, knock” jokes ready. Here is an oldie I learned as a 5 year old”
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
Develop some chicken jokes. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. This is very concrete and can be visualized. Then as your child matures add a little more abstract thought…around 12 years of age.
One day a year plan a silly meal. Use mashed potatoes, put food coloring in it and shovel some into your mouth and play lookie, lookie. For some clarification, when you say “lookie”, you open your mouth to show the gross mashed potatoes. It is ill-mannered, but so much fun. The cool thing is your children will begin to linger at the table, laughing and talking.
Around 14 years of age begin to tell jokes that help them think outside the box by following subtle directions.
If you want to have fun, develop this now. So get some books on good, clean jokes and giggle with your children. I believe that laughter is the best medicine.
March Madness is a sports term for playoffs in basketball. Teams face off to win the battle or game. Basketball is a fast-paced sport with subtle hits and jabs to the other team in an effort to put a ball into the hoop. When the jabs are caught a foul is called by a referee.
This got me thinking about the March mad-ness that occurs in the home. Two or more people face off in their quest to be right. Fast paced talking or yelling can occur but without a referee to step in and call a foul or monitor unfair fighting.
I have found these steps helpful when disagreements arise.
Step 1: Have a planned time to discuss an agreed upon topic. With teens it could be house rules, curfew or grades.
Step 2: Approach the meeting with an attitude of wanting to listen and learn. Yes, you can learn from your teen.
Step 3: Come to the meeting prepared. Have an opening where you tell your teen something great about them. For instance, “I really appreciate how you think about life.” Have a middle section which is to tell you teen what you want or expect. “I want you to be in the home by 10:00 pm.” Then be quiet and wait to let your teen give their opinion on why this might be unfair. Restate what they have said and repeat your rule. End the discussion by telling them how proud you are of them. “I am so proud that you are doing well in your new job.”
Step 4: Plan the next time to meet to evaluate how things are going.
If you notice that you are getting angry, STOP and take a time out. Just say, “I am beginning to get angry/mad and I need to take a break, can we talk again in 10 minutes?” Cool down and come back to the discussion.
May your “mad-ness” become less and less in your home.