Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6 King James Version
This biblical principle is the foundation my husband and I (by God’s grace) are both applying in teaching our two year old daughter about life skills, character development and establishing her identity in Christ Jesus. Included in life skills we desire her to grow is to be disciplined in cleaning her own mess so we instilled to her the Love of Order. Covered in this area is the “Clean-up after you Work or Play”
In our home, Abigail isn’t prohibited to use her toys (mostly educational one). Instead we will usually let her play, but only one at a time and make sure that before she will start a new activity, she will sort all her toys into a container, and put things back in her room. Clean after you Play. Or at her work time, enjoying while learning using her educational toys and applying the same principles or Clean after you Work. Our little one is gradually learning this routine.
At first, we taught her by modelling it with her, then engaging her, followed by teaching her how to do it herself which we believe built a sense of becoming more responsible starting at a young age. Letting her to do it herself at her own pace, gives her a sense of being respected, becoming more independent and accomplished.
Most of the time, she obeys the soonest we asked her and respond with “okay ” in a very sweet voice and finishes her task not being distracted. And there were times that we found her starting a new activity, and left her things scattered in the floor. When we asked her to clean-up, and few seconds would pass with her not doing it, until we discovered it was more motivating on her part to hear an encouraging word from us rather than hearing us reprimand her. Just like this morning, her Daddy motivated her to do art work, used her colors and the blank card board instead of giving-in to her request of using the phone. Minutes had passed, she became engrossed with it but left it all scattered in our living room floor after she had discovered the container of bird seed mix and went outside to feed the birds. Imagine those colors occupying the floors…HA! The rule of thumb for us is, Redeeming grace is way better than Scolding.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. -2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Since she was enjoying her new found activity outside, we never bothered ourselves to stop her. The rule is not to interrupt them when they are working. Just learn to sit back and observe but not like a bee! Jim Burns, mentions in his book, Confident Parenting, that stage 2–the Controlling Stage–happens from 2 to about 10 years old, when us parents micromanage (in the best sense) our child’s lives and keep him or her safe. Well yeah, we cared so much for our child’s safety and our sanity. But we don’t want to become a control monger, right? Instead we desire to raise responsible kids through implementing consistency in disciplines enveloped with grace.
So when she get’s back, we remind her to finish what she had left, but she was hesitant to follow and asked to start another activity. Then, we hear the bells ring for a parenting challenge! What we are constantly discovering is that it’s not so hard to implement our authority being the parents, the thing is what approach we will use to see it done. Going back to what I said earlier, it was more motivating on her part to hear an encouraging words from us rather than hearing us reprimand her. Instead of reacting to her little hesitations, I use the words I will help you. And she instantly moved and said, helped me. Believe me, in most parenting situations, Redeeming grace is way better than command and control. I know that there is a time that it’s hard to be gracious, so how we will strengthen our grace tool?
Gregory W. Slayton, author of the book Be a Better Dad Today suggested three ways to strengthen our grace tool.
- Remember the times when grace was extended to you: If you were lucky, you had parents and/ or grandparents who were people of grace. If not, perhaps you had someone in your life as a young person who was a person of grace. Hopefully, someone extended grace to you when you were young. Even if there was little grace in our childhood, we can remember our Heavenly Father’s grace for us, which is rich indeed.
- Remember that you are not perfect- or even close to it: Why is that important? Because if you look at yourself honestly, you can see how much grace you need. If you use grace now, you will be much more likely to receive their grace when you need it in the future. Net-net: If you truly understand how much grace you need from others, you are much more likely to show grace yourself.
- Look for opportunities to show grace. I am NOT naturally “full of grace.” Not even close. That’s why I’ve got to be on the lookout for opportunities to use grace. There are opportunities every day to use the grace tool. Like any tool, the more I use it, the more comfortable I am with it. So let’s start today. Let’s look for opportunities to put grace to work. Over time you will see grace grow stronger and more powerful in you, and that will be a huge benefit for you, not just with your family but with friends, colleagues and neighbors.
I’m ending this citing a story of Messy Lala (LaLa Burara), a book wrote by Excel Dyquiangco and illustrated by Tintin Pantoja. Young Lala, can’t stand it when her mother scolds her about her messiness. But she’s not doing anything about it! One day, the mess in Lala’s room grows to monstrous proportion.