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Why I need other parents

August 21, 2012
 |  by Julie

Why I need other parents

I need to say thank you to my fellow Kids of Integrity parents. The last time I posted, I was struggling to understand why my toddler didn’t seem to be responding to the Obedience lesson as well as I had hoped. I posed the question Is punishment more effective than reward when it comes to obedience? I received so many helpful and encouraging comments on Facebook and the KOI blog – comments that truly made me reconsider how I had been approaching this concept.

These four themes really struck home for me, all of which I can thank YOU for sharing:

  • Consequences. Someone used this term to encapsulate both the “punishment” and “reward” parts of my question; namely, both are important. And I thought about that a lot. It’s true! When I choose to obey God, the consequence is usually “reward” of some kind – an easier course; a clear conscience; blessing in some way, whether in this lifetime or the next. But when I choose to disobey, I usually make a mess of things, thereby paying a price. It completely makes sense to apply this principle to my toddler’s obedience/disobedience. Perhaps the key now is to teach her to recognize the consequences and to link them back to her original choice to obey or disobey.
  • Individuality. Many of you pointed out that some children may need more negative reinforcement while others respond better to positive. This reminded me of a principle I learned early on when I first had a baby – just because something works for one child, it might not work for another. Kids are different. (I had to learn this lesson when occasionally other parents would insist that I try this or that method with my newborn. I would get so frustrated when a “guaranteed” or “correct” way of doing something didn’t work for my infant. As soon as I accepted the fact that my child just might be different, and there are lots of ways to approach certain challenges, it helped a lot!). Bottom line: Kids are individuals and we need to learn what works best for each child, then apply consistency. Which leads me to . . .
  • Consistency. This is so much tougher than it seems! But I firmly believe in its importance. It’s confusing to a young child when they don’t know what to expect. Many of you mentioned that it’s a tough road to be consistent in the beginning, especially in the challenging toddler years (perhaps later as teenagers, too? Just a guess!). But the reward is so worth it! Down the road, as kids learn what the rules are, they won’t have to test those boundaries anymore (or, um, as much?). They know what to expect, what the consequences will be for their behaviour, both good and bad.
  • Doing what’s right because it’s right. I love this! I probably thought about this concept the most, perhaps because I can so easily apply it to my own life as a Christian. So often I try to make the right choices because I know that my life will be smoother in the long run. But is that really the most important motivation? While it’s not necessarily a bad motivation, I truly want my obedience to be a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life – that my right choices are not rooted in making things easier for myself, but that they are rooted in pleasing my Savior. Likewise, it would mean so much more to me to know that my daughter chooses to obey me because she loves me and respects me, not because she’s trying to avoid punishment. I want her to choose right because it’s . . . well, RIGHT, not because she’ll get something out of it for herself.

So, once again, thank you for sharing your perspectives on this issue. It has truly helped me! I can’t express how meaningful it is to know that, one, I’m not alone in this tough parenting job of moulding a godly human being; and two, that so many of you are willing to share your wisdom in such a gracious way.

I really hope that Kids of Integrity will continue to be a great lesson resource but also a community of believers lifting each other up on this grand adventure called parenting. If you have any ideas for how we can better foster community or open dialogue, please share your ideas!

Related Lesson: Obedience