Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parenting- Establishing Routines

With school starting this week it is the perfect time to set some routines in place if you do not already have them. Kids need structure- they get it in school and they need it at home. All our lives work better when things are organized and well-planned.

So here are some tips:
1. Establish a consistent routine for the kids from the time they get home till they go to bed. The key to success here is consistent enforcement early. Make it flexible enough to handle unexpected events but firm enough to be reliable. The sooner you lock it in place, the sooner you can enjoy the stability it produces. As with most parenting issues, the success will be determined by your enforcement.

2. Use visual charts and rewards to reinforce good behavior. Let them check off each completed task or routine and reward them weekly for the behavior you want. You can schedule homework, chores, bedtime prep and play/free time with this system. And I would involve them in the scheduling process so they have some ownership in the system. Positive reinforcement is a wonderful learning mechanism and it teaches them to control their own outcome.

3. Be extremely clear about expectations. Make sure they understand what they can and cannot do; emphasize the rewards they can earn by following the chart. Then make a big deal about their successes.

Remember, enforcement is toughest in the beginning but once the habits start to take hold, it gets easier. Be the parent and maintain control. The more effective you are at an early age, the less trouble you will have later.

Next week we will begin a series on how to influence your child's heart, not just their actions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Blog Focus

I have made the decision to focus my blog in a new direction. For a long time I have wrestled with finding a way to communicate with parents in our church and until I find something better, this will be my vehicle of choice. Here's why-

I believe my role as Children's Pastor is incomplete and ineffective if all I do is focus on kids for 1 hour a week. Do the math- parents have influence 167 hours/week and I have 1. Now I know our staff is good but that just doesn't add up. And in case you were wondering, the Bible clearly places the responsibility for a child's spiritual development on the parent (Deut.6), not the church.

So for my ministry to be effective, I have to equip parents to do a good job of leading their children to follow Christ and live with the Bible as their life map. This blog will now focus on that task.

That being said, let me add that I do not claim to be a parenting expert. There are plenty of them out there and I will certainly draw on the expertise of many of them. AND, there are a myriad of parenting styles so I'm not going to advocate strictly for one to the exclusion of the others. I simply want to place some tools in your hands so you can be better prepared to be the parent God has called you to be.

Having raised 4 kids into adulthood myself, I know how challenging a job it can be and while I am proud of my kids, they will readily tell you how imperfect my parenting skills were. Its tough because we're dealing with people, not scientific formulas, and there are no easy 10-step programs that will guarantee success. But we do have the Bible to guide us and the benefit of many knowledgeable resources so we can have reasonable expectations that this can be done effectively.

So feel free to dialogue back with me if you want. I'm making the commitment to post a parenting blog every week. If you find it helpful, refer your friends to it and we'll try to help as many people as possible.