Friday, April 25, 2008

Aim for the Heart

Have you ever been faced with a rule that you didn’t want to obey? Or a situation with someone in authority that frustrated you? Have you ever had a boss, teacher or authority figure for whom you had no respect or trust? What made it difficult to obey the rule or follow the direction of that person in authority? While in seminary, I worked at the UPS warehouse (Hub) in Portland, OR. I had some good supervisors there, but there was one that I remember who would scream and yell and belittle his workers. I noticed that it didn’t really work to improve the efficiency of the operation and only caused resentment and lack of enthusiasm for the job among his employees. In the same way, we as parents often sabotage our own discipline! To prevent this we need to aim for the heart in teaching our children. Here are some examples:

Sabotage: Having rules that are unclear or seem to have no basis.

Aim for the Heart: Teaching them the moral principle behind the rule, make the rules clear and enforce them consistently.

Sabotage: Sending a mixed message with our actions. For example: If I tell my kids to obey the rules, but I routinely break the speed limit. Or if I tell my kids to respect their teacher, but I bad mouth the cop who just gave me a ticket. These send a real mixed message between what I say and what I do.

Aim for the Heart: Set an example for your kids of adherence to the rules.

Sabotage: We lose their respect when we lose our temper and fail to be in control of our anger. We lose their trust when we make rules or give commands or discipline out of selfishness. For example: we say, “You are driving me crazy with your constant whining!” Wait a second. Should your child not whine because it bothers you? This statement makes your comfort and happiness the reason for the request to not whine.

Aim for the Heart: We gain our child’s respect by being in control of our own emotions. We gain their trust when they know we have their best interest in mind. Trust times respect equals influence (remember that formula). We teach our kids not to whine because it is a self-indulgent and ineffective form of asking for a need or want to be met. We need to teach them to ask politely for that need or want to be met, and then how to take “no” for an answer.

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