One of the best parenting techniques I know of is to focus on “practicing” before the need for discipline arises. At home we have “practiced” everything from sitting in church quietly, walking beside the grocery cart and not touching things on shelves, greeting others with a confident friendly voice, having blanket time, and so much more. We’re constantly practicing things so our children can LEARN before a situation presents itself. We focus on “re-do’s” when the child does need corrected. So if a child took a toy away from another child, we go back and practice what they should have done, reenacting the entire situation, instead of nagging and scolding and reprimanding. So here’s a fun “practice” we did the other day, hope you enjoy it as much as we have!
Phillipians 4:8 is where we get the rule “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But it goes further than that, don’t even think negative things! Focus on the things that are pure, true, just, honest, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Easier said than done! But if little ones can learn it while they’re little, this will give them a foundation so they won’t grow up to be a bitter, negative gossip.
So for our practice, I pretended to hand my child something they definitely wouldn’t like. Burnt broccoli anyone? How about some mushrooms mixed with cereal? And what about some noodles mixed with icecream? 🙂
Hand your child this pretend item and they have to say one nice thing… focusing on thinking of something nice to say. Like, “Thank you for making some food for me Mama,” “What a creative meal you made Mama,” “I do like mushrooms, thank you for this dish!” “I was feeling hungry, thank you!” 🙂
Now when you do serve a regular meal that is not their favorite, perhaps they’ll remember this “game” and think of at least one nice thing to say rather than grumbling and complaining!
You can also do this with opening gifts… hand them a gift bag with tissue paper that has a broken pencil inside or a paperclip or a sock. The game can be funny! Then have them say one nice thing about it… “I like short pencils. Now I can keep my papers together! A sock will help me dust my room, why thank you!”
One great example I’ve seen of Phillipians 4:8 is from Michelle Duggar. They are a homeschooling family but one time they went to a public school to share the love of reading and being an author. She told the children how great it is to write because you can do that to encourage others (what a sweet way to plant a seed in these children’s hearts that writing is supposed to be to encourage and edify others!) But before she got up to speak at their assembly, the principal and teachers led all the children in doing some dancing to some hip hop music. The Duggar’s were sitting on the side and they just smiled and were polite. Later, the camera interviewer asked her what she was thinking when the children started moving their hips and grooving. (The Duggar’s don’t believe in dancing). Instead of being judgmental, she said “I figured they were probably doing that to get their students motivated since it was bright and early morning. I do certain things to get my children motivated in the mornings as well.” What a gracious response!
As your children “practice” Phillipians 4:8, you can too! It’s great for all ages!