free bird2

Starting over

February 26, 2013, 5 Comments

I am reminded that when God chooses a King, he looks for the heart. (1 Samuel 16) That is one of the reason where character training is so important.

When a child goes into a store and is hungry, aptitude tells him he needs to get a snack bar or a sandwich, attitude will tell him he needs to pay for it. Why are so many high level executives caught in corruption and embezzlement? They are the ones who are taking home a 5-figure salary but somewhere, somehow there seems to be an opportunity to take home even more without really working for it. Aptitude will tell him how, attitude will make sure he stays contented and within the boundaries of the law.

The rules of the game never changed boys (girls), men (women), they are the same. But parenting toddlers and preschoolers, boy, aren’t they such a mess! One of my boys tells me he has finished his milk, but I found out he did not. The other day, one of my boys came running and told on his brother. The brothers fight and blame each other. Once, I see blood oozing out of one of my son’s face due to a fight. Yah… now it is getting bloody.  When we saw blood, that just completely did us in. I mean, what the heck just happened?!

Tell me about character training. Many times, I think I am being trained by them instead! Have you had your kids pushed your button in a way that no one has? Someone once said, “Motherhood is the only place you can experience heaven and hell at the same time.” I had to agree with that! (Throwing up both hands in the air!)

Regardless of who is at fault, the object that caused injury (read: racing car) was immediately confiscated.  Actually it was more like being tossed into the bin! The offender (read: the one who hit) was taken away and reprimanded immediately.  The victim (read: the one injured) was comforted.

After the storm blew over, it was time for investigation. I took both boys over and asked them to tell me the story.

The boys were seated together having their conversations when Noodle boy accidentally touched KB’s racing car. KB told Noodle Boy to back off, but being the little brother who likes to tease his brother, he touched it again. There is a common thing about being the eldest and I found out that they are usually pretty possessive. Needless to say, that provoked big brother big time, and in one swipe, he took the racing car and poked Noodle Boy’s face. There was a sharp end at the bottom side of the car and that caused the injury.

I find that knowing our children’s heart is paramount. When I am calmed, I could not believe that KB, a gentle, kind and loving boy at heart would inflict such wounds on his brother. It must have been an uncommon situation that provoked him to do so.  I felt that to get to the bottom of the matter I had to first grasp their heart motives or intention. Symptoms do not tell the full story.  KB found it a struggle to love both his brother and his racing car equally. And little brother could not understand what’s the big deal about that racing car; he could not empathize fully.

Well, so, since neither of them is ‘really’ at fault, does it mean it is OK to hurt? Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss. I took each boy and talked to them; I analysed the situation, helped them to empathize by looking at the situation from each others’ perspective, and coached them to be a problem-solver.

After that, I led them each towards repentance. To each, I teach them to see how their lack of consideration caused hurt to their beloved sibling. KB was very remorseful, and sincerely shocked at what happened to his brother. 4 year old Noodle Boy would need time to understand his cheekiness is not always appreciated, though he is much loved.

I then lead them to pray for forgiveness from the Lord.  Pleasing mummy or daddy is not the goal, because we too are imperfect people who fall and make wrong judgements, much like we first reacted when they fought! Pleasing God should and is their highest call. Pleasing God should and is our call.

Individually, it is always at this point of prayer when they utter “I’m sorry Lord, please forgive me for … ” when they release a flood of tears. I let them cry and let them experience their inadequacy. Then I lead them to say this, “Lord, I know you love me, and mummy/daddy still love me … so help me …” I continue to hug them and give them assurance of love, wait for them to receive healing, love and strength from the Lord. Then we too find a suitable time to apologise. “It was not right for us to lose our cool and throw the racing car away… we’re sorry that we need self-control from God too.”

They now have the chance to start over.

Good character is not putting up the best behaviour all the time, it is to learn that despite provocation, self-control can be developed to keep the peace. It is to learn that when someone else thinks it is not funny, we do not insist it is; it is doing something out of consideration for others. It is to know that when they fall short, they have the chance to do it better the next time round.

The boys would say sorry to each other and the other boy is required to say “I forgive”, irregardless of how one feels.  I teach them often that when we don’t forgive, we are like birds trapped in the cage. Birds are made to fly freely in the air and like us, we are created to be free.  “Look how happy the birds are when they fly freely in the air!” I would often point it out to them when we go for our walks.

Irregardless of what they could or could not comprehend at that moment, I believed that character training is a journey.  It takes time to change, but better younger than when they are older, when their hearts are still soft and pliable.

We all make mistakes. It seemed that toddlers and preschoolers makes so much of it each day. It seemed like wherever they walk or talk or roll their eyes or say OK, a drink would spill, or they are doing it wrong. Whether it is a character flaw, a weakness, rebellion or a situation misunderstood, a child who makes a mistake and carry on with guilt and shame on their backs for years and never felt loved by each stroke of the cane would never understand the power of grace that transformed.

It is my hope that through Christ I am always ready to reflect God’s acceptance no matter what they do, help them repent and give them hope. And when I fall, that I have the courage too to repent. As a parent, I need to have a braveheart, and for that I too need grace to start over.

*Here are some character building story books that I use to help me parent my 4 year old and 6 year old preschoolers.

Overcoming Peer Pressure - Just Teddy by Emily Lim
Importance of Friendship – Bunny Finds the Right Stuff by Emily Lim
Self-esteem and confidence – The Tale of Rusty Horse by Emily Lim
Humility and empathy – Prince Bear & Pauper Bear by Emily Lim
Everyday Graces by Karen Santorum
The Children’s Book of Virtues by William J Bennett

To find out how other Christian moms nurture their children in the areas of Character Development on this segment of Project Braveheart & Steel Magnolio! Check these blogs out!

5 Feb 2013 – Blogging here at catch-fortywinks.com

12 Feb 2013 – Sarah of http://www.theplayfulparents.com/

19 Feb 2013 – Elisa of http://www.loveourchildrennow.sg/

5th Mar 2013 – Jean of http://jeanstitch.wordpress.com/

5 Responses to “Starting over”

  1. Madeline says:

    What an impt life lesson! I’m touched when I read how tender your kids’ hearts are for the Lord! Crying bcos they realized they’d done wrong and yes, forgiveness is needed since mistakes are inevitable, for both adult and child. thanks for sharing!^^

    • Sharon says:

      Hi Madeline,
      All children have tender hearts. I was surprised the first time I mitigated, but then it is a natural process after that. And it gets better with practise. I realise it is better to learn how to forgive as young as possible before resentment , bitterness or revenge seeps in. That we still may have to deal with later, but to instruct that particular thought pattern is important. As adults we still have issues with forgiveness and are still learning. Forgive is possible, forgetting is not. We are not wired to forget, but we can always reframe.

  2. Fatboy_Joe says:

    Thank you for sharing your life experience with your children. I find it extremely charming that you have nicknames for them, KB & Noodle boy. They are so adorable and I am so tempted to bring them out to play (and go wild). Do tell how and why you gave them those names, please.

    As for the row between your boys, I am unable to resist sharing my own observation during my limited time involved in schools. It appears to me that similar encounters are fairly common to witness.

    One kid(s) would keep taunting another kid until the target snaps and the confrontation results into a fight. Similar to your case sometimes the tormentor gets hurt in the aftermath, like this clip that has gone viral.

    Casey Heynes whom fought back at bullies.
    http://tiny.tw/38Lz

    Personally, I believe that it is important to learn how to deal with bullies in the correct manner. At the same time to learn to differentiate when it is okay to be playful and when it becomes unkind or offensive. As an adult I still get to witness bullying and confrontation that goes bad. Of course it is on an entirely different level and complexity.

    P.S.
    I too must confess. Whenever I get that metaphorical slap in the cheek, it is not my natural instinct to roll over and offer the other cheek.

    • Sharon says:

      Hi Joel,
      KB stands for Krunchy Boy . It was a name he call himself at 3yo because he likes to eat crunchy vegetables, particularly the ones I cook. :) Noodle Boy comes after naturally because he likes to eat noodle. :) With boys alot of energy is required to parent and not to mention run after them when they are outdoors. I don’t do that anymore, knowing I can never catch up. Usually when they go ‘wild’, I pretend not to see and just relax and read my book nearby. I do think you would regret taking them out… they can really run amok!!! :) It is true that bullying is a huge problem and it is something we certainly do not wish to see it in any homes, constant taunting would suggest something more deep-seated.

  3. Fatboy_Joe says:

    Your boys don’t appear to be hyperactive to me. I am referring to the clinically diagnosed condition, which I need to confess that I do not have the expertise to handle. I am fairly confident that your boys will get along fine with me (as we go wild and crazy). We will never know for sure until we all meet up one day, ya?

    About bulling.

    I agree with you that constant taunting suggests something more deep-seated. This might not be a trivial issue, as there is a reason for the idiom, “The last straw that breaks the camel’s back”. Perhaps it has the similar origins with being argumentative, abusive, critical and bitter. Or to put it straightforwardly, what does a bully actually intend to achieve?

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