I’ve noticed that my three ear old has developed a rather impressive poochie lip when she’s unhappy. She curls her upper lip until she nearly blocks off her nostrils, all to show mom that she is not pleased with whatever situation God has given her.
I sense the need to intervene. I could ignore the behavior, since I’m certain she’s doing it for a reaction. Because she’s also building a response to whatever is displeasing her, I suspect that ignoring her will only cause her to escalate her expression of displeasure. Plus, I realize that God has given me a clear view of what is going on in her mind. She’s not merely saying “I don’t like this” by her poochie lip; she’s responding disrespectfully to a legitimate command. I have noticed that ignoring disrespect doesn’t seem to extinguish it. Thus, I’ve chosen to address the poochie lip.
First, the problem is not that she’s making faces. We often make silly faces, and those don’t get her in trouble. For some reason, though, I want to correct her for the face– Stop making that face! Smile and say “Yes, Ma’am”! Don’t frown when mommy tells you to go to bed!
The trouble is, I know quite well wiping a frown off does nothing for the rebellious thoughts inside her beautiful head. Focusing exclusively on the externals when I correct her only teaches her to hide her rebellion more carefully. Instead, I’ve been trying to get her to change her thoughts. I’ve said, “Change your thinking. Your face is showing me that you are not thinking right thoughts.” Then we might discuss why the thinking is wrong. Sometimes I talk about thankfulness; sometimes about selfishness. Sometimes, I just leave it at that. (Sometimes I’ve told her to wipe the frown off!)
I’ve been interested to note that she is learning that there is a connection between her thoughts and her countenance. Now she twitches her face out of a frown, and tries to make a happy face while she continues her negative thinking. That’s okay. At this point, what is most important to me is that she understands
- the inside is more important,
- when the inside is right, the outside will be right, and
- I must respond politely to mom, even if I don’t like it.
What do you say to help your children change what they are thinking?