I didn’t see it coming, but I should have. Why is it that I was so blind sighted?
What was it and how can it help parent or lead your kids?
I’ll get to that in a jiffy, first we need to get the baseline right.
Like all siblings, my kids can grate on each other, irritate and squabble like…well, like I did when I was a kid with my siblings.
They’re human and subject to human weaknesses.
The first thing we must accept is the fall of humanity. We no longer live up to our ideal. We fail in many ways. In fact, the Bible says, before we are ‘born again’ we are given over to a depraved mind, one that is bent on self-autonomy and disobedience (Romans 8). This ‘depravity’ can be willful, arrogant, fist high in the air like Hitler, or it can be private, under the radar and ‘I don’t even know why I don’t like the name of Jesus, but I just don’t’.
Even with the Holy Spirit behind us, as we are being ‘remade’ into Christ’s better image of humanity, we still fail. Knowing this is true of our lives as parents, it also should lend us to be gracious, compassionate and perseverant with our kids (and spouse, though I have little to complain about on that count. But I’m not asking if it’s reciprocated!)
So, there’s the baseline. GRACE. We all need Jesus, the great high priest. We and our kids fail in many ways.
When it’s OK to spare the rod
Doesn’t mean spare the ‘rod’, however.
But in this case, I did spare the ‘rod’ because it was my dumb fault for not seeing it coming and not providing reasonable steps to avoid the clear and present danger that would be caused by my in inaction.
What was this inexcusable passivity of mine?
I let them be in a situation of extended boredom.
What was it?
Can’t say too many details but we were at an adult lunch (which was fun btw for us parents) event that involved a lot of sitting around talking to adults. We got on with the task of making conversation but forgot about how our kids would pass the time. ‘Oh, they’ll be fine, they can introduce themselves to people too’. Maybe. If I’d helped them. Or they came with me. Or I brought something for them to do.
I was expecting them to be like an adult, and talk to adults or find something useful to do.
In a confined space.
One they had to sit in for a long time, waiting for the food to arrive.
It was getting stuffy.
I don’t know…I must have been insane that day!
What do kids do when they get bored, hungry, thirsty and have no idea of when they’ll be released into kid land again?
Well, mine didn’t. They did amazingly well…at least to my notice. They had a private, contained riot. In the car later, on the way home, it all came out. Mini-meltdown.
We started to chastise them for their behavior that we had not noticed, but if we had would have been unhappy with.
But then I had an epiphany.
‘Hey, let them go, we should have done better. They were up against it.’
And we did let it go.
You see, I’d served up the ultimate concoction for bad behavior – unsuitable activity for kids; enclosed space with no-where to go; stuffy air; hunger; thirst; no end in sight.
Even though looking back there were options for us to give our kids a break, like one of us take them outside or getting them a drink…we just didn’t.
Dumb and dumber.
Think of your home
Think of your ministry with kids if you have one at church.
Do you ever allow this kind of situation of extended boredom to develop?
When might it occur?
If it’s foreseeable, you can’t blame the prisoners from rioting. There’s plenty you and I can do to alleviate their stress and provide for their young, minds.
Kids need movement.
Kids need water.
Kids need air.
Kids need food.
Kids need things to change up regularly.
Kids need to know there’s an end coming where it’s going to get better.
You can’t expect kids to behave like adults for extended periods. We are absolutely kidding ourselves if we do and deserve a serve.
What’s your No.1 Tip for discipline?
Ok this one may not have floated your boat as much as it did mine. Perhaps you’ve got bigger fish to fry? I’d be glad to hear it and go a bit deeper on this important subject.
Discipline is an ongoing challenge for all parents and especially acute in kid’s ministries where we only have the kids for short but sometimes very challenging periods.
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Bonus: get my 7 Tips for avoiding boredom that I mentioned on FB live this week (go check the video out):
Overall idea: try and gamify anything