So I’ve spoken a little bit about heart training, but over the next couple of weeks, I want to get into how, and why I think it’s important.
But all of that becomes a moot point, unless you have a plan.
Parenting is not an accident. Yes sometimes little spermys crack the egg when it wasn’t planned, and before mummy or daddy was ready to be a mummy or daddy, but little people are never accidental. You can call it fate, destiny, or the fingerprint of God, but I firmly believed that when 23 meets 23, it’s a divine, planned, and purposeful moment.
Of course pregnancy and birth are completely ridiculous ideas.
I mean seriously, how much easier would it be to put in our order, and pick up our baby from the hospital nine months later? You could even get a deal with an instruction manual, box of nappies, and, if you’re lucky, a set of steak knives.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. When most of us become parents we are presented with a slimy little bundle, who has just been squeezed out of a very tight place, has no idea what is going on, and is completely dependent on us to work out what the hell to do next. We have midwives handling our boobs, pushing them into tiny mouths, teaching us how to bath them, change them, and hold their tiny, floppy heads. Then after a couple of days, we are set free to work out the rest on our own.
Be honest, how much of your parenting is unplanned? How much is reactionary?
Do you devise a plan for your day, focused on what you want to achieve with your little (or big ones), or are you still that first time mum, being sent home from the hospital, and just hoping you get through the day?
Most of us, I think, are the latter. Most of us get up in the morning, make breakfast, wash clothes, clean floors and try to entertain kids in between. We break up fights after they have started, say no to things already done, and withstand tantrums from confused kids who don’t understand why what was ok yesterday, is not today.
Our parenting is, for the most part, reactionary, and impulsive. (Well mine is anyway!)
Heart training is not. Heart training is intentional, and planned. It makes us direct our day, and set guidelines.
It’s not easy; but nothing worthwhile ever is.
But it doesn’t have to be complicated either.
Begin as you mean to go.
Regardless of what you feel about the word repent, the sentiment is sound. We can train our kids before, or we can retrain them after, and have to re-teach new habits. Begin as you mean to go simply means don’t let you children have the freedom to do something, that you are going to have to withdraw later. Stop and think about the little things; it may not seem a bad thing to let a toddler hold your phone, but what about when they start calling people, or banging it on something, or throw it in the toilet? Then you find yourself saying no, and they are upset and confused, cause they thought it was ok.
Best just say no in the first place, and be done with it.
Freedom VS Responsibility
Think of a funnel.
The inside represents where our kids should be, and the funnel should be facing with the bottom down. When your child is in their funnel, the amount of freedom they have is consistent with the amount of responsibility they have. A small child has no self control, so they should have little freedom. As we teach our kids to grow in their maturity, then we an allow them to engage in more activities. By the time our kids are teenagers, we should be able to allow them a lot of freedom, because they have earned it.
Where most of us get it wrong, (myself included) is that we allow our kids to do things before they are ready. (See point one.) Then we have to remove the freedom, because they are just not ready for it. What results is upside down funnels, tantrums, and often teenagers rebelling when mum and dad tighten the reigns they should have held in when they were toddlers.
Train in times of non-conflict.
I’m guilty of it; most of my training comes in the heat of battle, or as a knee jerk reaction to something my kids have done. This is not the best way, because I am frustrated, possibly angry, and my kids are confused or annoyed.
When I take the time to develop relationship (particularly with my older ones), and talk about what we would do in certain situations, I’m giving them tools to succeed, and not fail and need a lecture.
Use the actions of others around you to teach (just be careful you don’t use them as an excuse to judge), and role play scenarios with the values you want to instill. Talk about boys before the boys start looking. That’s something we will be doing today (because the boys have taken notice!)
Make a Plan
Mel Hayde is the author of a fantastic book called Terriffic Toddlers, and also a personal friend. She believes that heart training can occur at even the mundane moments of the day. Meal time can teach patience and self control. Play time teaches kindness, and sharing (if there are siblings.) Watching a movie can be a time of learning concentration. Every moment in your child’s days can be used to train moral behaviors, it’s just a matter of changing focus to concentrate on what you want to teach.
I hope this was helpful. There is so much I would love to share, and sometimes I get confused as to what order to present it in. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions if I haven’t explained myself properly, or if you are confused, and even think differently. I’m always open to new ideas.
Next week I’m planning on talking about the word why. You may be surprised. 🙂