Next lesson: Gentleness
Next lesson: Gentleness
When we first had a look at the whole list of 16 Kids of Integrity lessons, we mentally placed Gentleness near the bottom of our priority list. After all, our kids are pretty sweet, right? Then Benjamin became the victim of a few “wildcat attacks” by his sister and suddenly the need for gentleness training skyrocketed.
This time, Rob and I began not with the kids, but with our own attitudes and weaknesses regarding the subject. We prayed our own version of the Parents’ Prayer and confessed that sometimes our words are harsh – not just with the kids, but with each other. I know there have been times when my buttons have been pushed and I felt I had the right to respond in anger. Then the kids would pick up the edge in my voice and begin to use it in their own communication. Way to go, “mommy role model”! Hence, we are determined to cover this lesson in prayer and very carefully examine our own actions as we go.
The Gentleness Quilt idea was a big hit. We decided to make it out of colourful paper squares instead of fabric (a little easier to prepare). For more leverage, I decided to tape the squares onto the backing (instead of gluing), so we could still remove squares for non-gentle behaviour. Believe me, the kids don’t like the thought of their quilt getting smaller, so they’ve really started minding their “p’s and q’s”!
At first we could tell both Ben and Jess were being sugary sweet within our hearing range just so they could earn a square for verbal tenderness. We had to clarify that we would reward only if we felt the actions or words were genuine and uncontrived. That solved the problem fairly quickly.
Benjamin suggested that the quilt should not only be made by the kids, but by the whole family. Rob and I like the idea of full accountability, but we also recognize the problem surrounding who decides when Mommy and Daddy get squares. Worse yet, who decides if we lose squares? (Anybody have experience entrusting their kids with that kind of authority?) Perhaps it would be a good experiment . . .
As positive reinforcement, we also decided that when the quilt is complete, we will celebrate by having an ice cream sundae and going bowling (an activity that requires gentleness with a heavy ball). Judging by the squeals of joy, it seems our kids respond exceptionally well to a general spirit of celebration.
As for Bible stories to learn by, I didn’t take my own advice to stick to stories in Ben’s beginner’s Bible, so the teaching on Rehoboam (“harsh king” and “gentle king”) fell flat. Once again, no pictures, no familiarity, no connection. Pfffft.
Still, we like this lesson. It’s having a better effect than we expected. Can’t wait to “catch” the kids being gentle tomorrow, so we can make the quilt grow.