I love that this morning, I had an opportunity to teach my children not to be mean. 🙂
This morning, Bethel and Laurel were playing with a new playdoh set that Laurel bought with her own money. I heard Laurel start to get irritated with Bethel, so I looked over and saw that both children had a small bit of playdoh. Then I saw that Bethel had all of the rest of the playdoh hidden. She was practically sitting on it.
Now, Bethel knew she wasn’t doing right. I think she knew she was being mean. But I still felt the necessity of defining it for her, since I’ve noticed a pattern of meanness the last few weeks. That’s why I took the time to talk about how we (mommy and Bethel) can tell that there might be meanness in her heart.
So, without further ado… How do you know what you’re being mean? All of these happened in our household by all of our children, just this morning!
- When you’re more interested in hiding a toy than playing with a toy.
- When you’re glad that someone is getting in trouble for grabbing.
- When you’re trying to play with three toys at once, just so someone can’t play with one of the toys you have.
- When you have more than you can use, and won’t let anyone have any (One child this morning had five cups of orange playdoh that he made, and wouldn’t give any away!)
Since all the selfishness happened before eight o clock, what verses will we talk about at breakfast?
Working to give. This was an important verse for our situation, because Laurel used money she earned doing work to purchase the playdoh. It was good and right for her to see her dollars being used not only for something that she wanted, but also for an opportunity to share. I want to reinforce this idea for her. I need to think of ways that I can provide for Bethel to work and share what she has worked for. David worked hard to make the playdoh. I want them to understand that work is a primary means of having so that we can give!
There’s probably far more passages we can think though, but more might be overkill. So we’ll stop there.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Ephesians 4:28
We had a conflict involving meanness and it took me by surprise that I fear I may have overreacted. Sarah had taken time to tape flowers (real ones) to the ends of a few spare pens we had around the house so she could give them to a few of her friends at science class. She laid them down on the table before we left and when it was time to go she went to go get them (of course it was minutes before we walked out the door and we were late as it was) and found her older brother had pulled more than 1/2 the petals off each flower. He didn’t waste time with denial, just acted silly. He truly didn’t understand the “meanness” of what he had done. I’m sure I empathized with my crying daughter and found myself REALLY angry with my son. I find I may need to put off disciplining or even scolding until I have had time to ‘think’ on the whole situation and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. The problem with this is I often have so much on my mind I tend to forget to “get back” to the child with the training or disciplining. How would you have handled that situation?
Laura, I don’t know what I would have done! I know I probably would have struggled with anger, too. 🙁 Here’s what I’m thinking: Because it’s possible that it wasn’t a cruel act, then I’d want to be careful assuming it was. Sometimes kids act silly when they don’t know the right feelings to have, or the right way to act, whether it’s meanness or not. If this is the case, then I would walk him through the right feelings and actions or making the situation right. Although you might respond differently if you determine he was genuinely being mean (questions I am not really very good at yet, but I keep trying), you still might want to help him practice being kind to sister. In this case, helping her with another project for her friends might be something worthwhile. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant., You actually want him to know the joy that comes from loving others. (The replacement principle in Ephesians 4 comes to mind.) What to do?? I dunno! But you have made me think through what I can do in situations at my own house, so I’m glad you poked a bit here. How did your followup go on this situation?
I did end up swatting before we left, convinced a distraught little girl that she could tape new flowers to the pens during the 20 minute drive to class, struggled with guilt throughout the class period and then spoke again with him about the actions, how they were a misjudgment and tried to honestly accept his plea that he hadn’t meant to be mean but rather it was in retaliation for the mean things she does to him. We then talked about re-paying evil for evil, allowing God to vindicate us and brainstorming ways we could “help” or “be kind” to Sarah instead (as an opposite to evil for evil…rather something nice BECAUSE of the evil done). I certainly wish I had handled it differently, but the good thing about being a parent and having God as my teacher is he helps me to see each mistake as a learning experience for the future. It has made me stop and take a little more time before making harsh judgements. I’m a slow learner though and needed another “episode” to really drive it into me. I’m doing a little study now on wrong guilt. I find myself continually feeling guilty for my mistakes at parenting and I am realizing it is the guilt induced by Satan and not God. It’s proving to be challenging and stimulating. : ) Thanks for your input!