Heart of Esther

"And who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?" –Esther 4:14

SIMPLE PARENTING HELP November 4, 2011

We as mothers make our job so much harder when don’t realize that the way our children respond is due to how they are taught to respond…(clearing throat) by US!  Being consistent with anything you want to train them is essential. So how are you talking to your children consistently? Do you use a soft voice laced with manners? Does your tone change when you are out in public and you know you are being heard? How are our children talking TO us and to others?

A pastor’s wife shared her story of how embarrassed she was to be caught yelling at her children in the middle of the living room when someone from their church dropped by for a visit. There she was, windows open, in full view of her unannounced visitors, screaming at her children. After that, she reassessed: if my children listen to me when I yell, I’ll train them to listen the first time, to my soft voice. That meant lots of disciplines when requests weren’t followed promptly, but it didn’t take long before the children caught on and were TRAINED to listen the first time to her “nice” voice. I realized when I acted out of frustration the third or fourth time I’d repeated myself by yelling or disciplining, I was unconsciously instructing my children to obey at that point, instead of the first time I asked. Now, there are consequences for not obeying the first time, and to be honest, I feel like a nicer Mommy because I’m not getting angry and yelling. I’m sure I sound nicer to those who listen to me, too! 😉

I also found myself saying something and often getting no response.  Toddlers are GREAT at ignoring.  It’s a testing time.  I found making them respond to me by saying “Yes, Mommy!” (cheerfully) was making them pay attention, and proving to me that they DID hear me. We also think it’s a good way for children to learn respect. Some people insist their children respond with a “yes, ma’am” or “yes, sir”, but we have always been okay with just a “yes, Daddy,” or “I’d be happy to!”.  I do like them to answer adults with their titles or names, such as “Yes, Teacher” or “Yes, Miss Laurie”.

We’ve also faced problems with jobs getting done halfway. First, be sure the thing you are asking your child to do, they are mature enough to handle! We also have a rule in our house “if you don’t know something-ASK!”.  It’s simple enough but let’s them know its always alright for them to ask a question or ask for help.  But after that, sometimes jobs get done halfway out of laziness or hurriedness. So listening is also doing the thing you were asked to do all the way!

One thing we try to reinforce in our home is working and obeying with a cheerful heart. The Bible says a joyful heart is like medicine. One of the scriptures our children know well is:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars!” Philippians 2:14-15.

We encourage them that if they learn to cheerfully obey; they will shine like stars-at home, at work, at play!! We often may need to remind them: “Are you obeying quickly, cheerfully, and all the way?”  It makes for a pleasant atmosphere in our home when there isn’t grumbling and complaining.

If we reinforce at home obeying in these ways, our children will learn to hear God’s quiet voice. Our children will have struggles their whole lives, but if they learn to obey God early on, they will lead a blessed life! 

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CHEERIOS MADE ME LOOSE IT November 1, 2011

Do you ever have those days where just ONE more thing will send you over the edge??  Yeah.  That was me the other day.  It was just those little things that added up all day.  It started out by being woken up early (4am early) by a little one that is learning to live (and sleep) without a pacifier.  With a nursing baby, my sleep is interrupted as it is.  Still, I woke up looking forward to a little shopping trip without any children-excited to have some space and thoughts to myself (which is rare) for a couple of hours.  You have to understand, I am NEVER w/o my children.  Honestly, I don’t crave time away or frequent breaks.  When money is tight, we have date night at home after the kiddos are in bed.  My husband works long hours and we don’t have any family nearby.  We are also extremely careful about who we allow our children to be watched by.  SO, I do not get time alone (you know what I mean, Mommy’s-not even in the BATHROOM), mkay?? 

Anyway, myschedule was already too packed this week and I was stressed.  Not to mention not feeling well.  It was little things all day like my toddler unrolling an entire roll of bath tissue and proceeding to tear it up in little shreds and spread it all over the house.  Yes, I was getting more and more anxious for my outing ALONE!   I wish I could say something major happened to make me lose my cool and you could relate, but it was something so small and silly…

Ready to walk out the door, I’m running around like a mad lady sprucing up the house (no easy task after a long home schooling day and sports after) so we don’t scare away the babysitter and I get the call that I would NOT have childcare after all and that if I wanted to get a few things I had planned to get done, I had to bring all the children with me.  Sigh.  To be honest, I usually don’t mind taking all the kiddos with me and really and truly enjoy their company.  But this had been a particularly rough week.  I was tired.  I needed a break.  I had even fallen asleep the night before imagining myself with my coffee in hand, being able to casually rifle through a favorite store before getting my “have to have’s” at my not so favorite store.  I literally at that moment felt as if my day had been ruined.

I wish I could say it was something major that put me over the edge.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal.  My toddler spilled a bowl of Cheerios (dry-thank goodness) on my sofa.  IN my sofa.  And crushed them in between my cushions.  Yeah.   And I lost it. Let me reassure you, ladies, it wasn’t pretty. 

Still cleaning up crushed up Cheerios and beginning to feel ashamed for loosing it, I kept praying, and I realized that my day was probably going so awfully because of my attitude and because, in my head, I had planned for things to go my way that day. 

Then, in His soft and gentle way, I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me and gently ask how often do we this in our spiritual walk?  I began to evaluate my heart.  It’s not that I had a bad day.  It went much deeper than that.  How often do we say a prayer or expect God to do something, or even put limitations on Him as to how we allow him to work in our hearts; and then become frustrated or even bitterly disappointed when things are not as we think they should be?  It’s not just our daily happenings we get easily upset and frustrated over, but major things like money, relationships, even death of a loved one.  Often, we even let a part of our hearts shut down to Him because we cannot understand why things aren’t going our way.

The only way to make it through is to be utterly abandoned to myself and completely open to what His desire is for me…even in the small things.  If I’m not, do I really trust Him?  Do I really believe He is a loving God who wants good things for me?  Do I know who my enemy is? (Hint:  the Word says that satan is the one who comes to kill, steal, and destroy). 

I cannot always control what happens to me, but I can choose my response to them, and ultimately, my response to HIM!  After all, life big or small, is lived daily.  Especially as mothers and wives.  That’s why the Word says in Mathew to not even worry about tomorrow and to “Be careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16. 

“Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

And, when Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13 “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength!”

So, if I can learn to lean on the One who gives me strength and respond the way I know He would have me to respond first, if I can somehow squash this ME that gets in the way of what He is doing in my life (even if its responding well to spilled Cheerios!) then I can be refined and somehow reach toward the prize…

 

TRAINING CHILDREN EARLY October 31, 2011

These early years (about 1-3 years old) are essential in training our children.  You know the verse in Proverbs:  “Train a child when he is young…”  This is when they learn many boundaries. Let me reassure you from the beginning, training little ones can be exhausting!  Little ones have to be dealt with immediately because they do no remember later that they are being disciplined for what they did hours, even minutes ago. It’s always when you are in the middle of doing something else that they need correcting!  Often, I have even had to put down a nursing baby to correct a toddler!
If you’re exasperated, wait!  While training IS hard work, it is also not as hard as you think. Young children love to please. You see it on their beaming face when everyone claps for them! Praise is an important part of training. Correction, without praise when they get it right, only frustrates a child. And the Bible warns parents to not frustrate your child to anger. “Yea!! You did it!” with a smile and clapping hands and they will love to attempt a reaction such as that again! I have found that with just a couple of days of consistency and you will see results!
Teaching no, of course, comes quite easily as it seems toddlers are never too tired to explore the world around them-even it means exploring one cupboard or drawer at a time by emptying its entire contents out and somehow managing to spread it all over the house in a matter of minutes…always while you’re cleaning up…and especially if you’re expecting company! 🙂

Teaching young children to not throw tantrums or scream and cry for what they want by teaching them instead to ask for it (even if they are too young for words, it’s an opportunity to teach words and also teach them to respond in other ways, such as pointing). They are never too young to learn to respond right! One of my slow talkers could never respond to “Yes, Mommy” she could nod her head.

This age is also the perfect time for teaching little ones to help! My toddlers have always “helped” me put laundry in the machine, or fold it, even put it into their own drawers. When I dust, I often hand one of them a clean cloth and they joyfully polish the furniture alongside me. Teaching them to pick up their own toys along with you and this stage is more time-consuming (especially when you know you can do it yourself in a minutes time!), but all my children could easily manage to put their own toys in a basket (and usually they were cleaning their own rooms) by themselves before they were 3 years old. When they work alongside you, it’s an opportunity to teach them not only to do a job cheerfully and all the way, but also to spend some quality time with mom! Little ones love to help-use this to your advantage! It’s a great way of teaching the teamwork that comes from being in a family. We often say in our family “everyone in a family helps out” and “teamwork” or “many hands make light work”!  I always talk about how much we love to live in a clean house or how it makes so much less work when everyone learns to pick up after themselves.  My older ones still talk about how nice it is to live in a clean house (since they’ve heard it since they were young)!
Teach them to obey in public, as well as at home. I remember several times giving little ones “time outs” in the middle of the grocery store aisle (regardless of the stares or sometimes comments from others). Shopping with children is no small task and I felt they could easily learn to control themselves in a store as well as they knew how to at home. Stores are the hardest for parents because we feel (and are) being watched. Don’t give in just to get them to stop! Yes, its embarrassing but honestly, you’ll have many more embarrassing moments if you don’t train them now to stop!  Trust me!  It’s hard at the moment but its much more pleasant when you know you can take your children anywhere and trust their behavior when you’re there. Church is also an excellent place for them to learn self-control and how to sit quietly when needed, at least for short periods of time. Practice at home first! You can have them practice sitting next to you on the sofa or in your lap. Begin with small time periods, 5 minutes or so, then increase the time little by little.

Training your children to respond to commands such as “no” and “come here.” And please, ladies, no counting! Children should learn to respond to your request, not your threats, “1…2…I mean it!…2 ½…”
I have seen first hand how training early on makes the latter years much easier and more pleasant. When my children were trained and knew what was expected of them, instead of being irritated or tired of constant correction, I found I was able to enjoy them and the unique personalities God gave them so much more!

 

 
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