Archive | April 2012

Teach Your Children Social Skills

Treating people with love and respect does not just happen; social skills must be taught. It broke my heart one day when I was with my grandchildren at Chuck E Cheese. My granddaughters came to me to tell me that there was a boy in the climbing area who was calling everyone names. I went over and asked the boy, who was about four-years-old, to please stop calling the children names. He looked at his friend and said, “Isn’t this funny?”  I told him it is not funny to call people names and if he did not stop I would have to go tell someone. He started to laugh and pretended to pull out a machine gun and shoot me.  Not only was he rude to an adult, if he continues, he will do great harm to someone one day.

In a previous blog, I talked about the fact that toddlers mimic what they see. Where do you think that little boy learned to call others names and think it was funny? Where do you think he got the idea to shoot me down with a machine gun? Remember that children react on emotion. When they are upset or have a conflict, they will recall what they have learned and what they have seen. Please be very careful not to allow your young children to watch violent movies or play violent video games. The TV and video games are actually conditioning your children how to respond in times of trouble.

More and more people are solving their problems with guns. If they get mad at someone, they will shoot them instead of working through the issue. It is imperative that parents walk their children through the essential steps on how to handle a conflict. Get excited when your children have conflict with each other. Conflicts are opportunities to teach your children proper social skills. Please, whatever you do, do not tell your child to quit tattling. It takes time to learn appropriate problem-solving skills. Many adults have never learned these skills and still yell when things do not go their way. Continue to teach them how to handle their differences and they will learn to take care of issues instead of responding negatively to them. Think for a moment how wonderful it would be if husbands and wives, siblings, friends and neighbors, and other relationships all had good social skills. There would be a lot more happy, safe homes and neighborhoods.

When your children are young, try to be within hearing range when they are playing with others so you can hear their interaction. If you hear them fighting, explain to them that fighting is not the way to solve a problem and fighting does not bring honor to the name of Christ. Teach them the proper problem-solving steps. Whenever you hear them say or do something kind, make sure you point it out and compliment them. If you are out and about and see someone else do a kind deed, take the opportunity to share the example with your children.

One of the best ways that your children will learn how to socialize is by watching you socialize with people. The way you treat them and others will teach them more than your words. You have the power to help your children blossom or crush them. Listen to your tone. If your home is filled with violence, tension, and anger, it can do great damage to your children and how they relate to others. Are you forgiving? Do you love your children and others regardless of what they do? When they make a mistake, do you get upset or do you help them learn how to fix their mistakes? Do you help them find what they are good at and encourage them in it? Do you give them lots of love and spend good quality time with them? Pay close attention to how your children interact and start teaching them how to get along with everyone.

 In the last blog, Attaching to Others, there are pointers on what to look for in a friend and how to be a good friend. Refer back to the blog if you want. Please take the time to teach your children the necessary social skills involved to live peaceably with all men. People need to see something different in how we, as Christians, handle ourselves so Christ’s name can be glorified.

Romans 12:17-19 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

By: Linda Svacha 🙂

Attaching to Others

God created people to be relational. Your children will attach (fasten, join, connect) with other people besides you and God. Everyone wants to be connected to someone and fit in somewhere. Your goal as parents is to make sure that your children are connecting themselves with the right people. II Corinthians 6:14 tells us this: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” It is very important for you to teach your children to reach out to the lost, but not to have a connection with them where they go to them for advice or do ungodly activities with them.

You should start talking to your children about friends when they are toddlers. Listen close for something that may have happened at school, church, library, park, etc. that you can use as a teachable illustration. If your child talks about Danny being mean to everyone, ask him if Danny would make a good friend. If he says no, ask him why he should not have Danny as a friend. Use these moments as opportunities to talk about how they will become like those they hang around with. Take the time to explain the importance of being kind to Danny any chance he gets. Also, start praying that the Lord will change Danny’s heart. Have your child invite Danny to come to church. You want to teach your children how to love the unlovable, yet not allow them to be their best friends. Continue to listen for different opportunities to ask if someone would be a good friend.  If your child tells you that someone said something nice to him, ask him if that person would make a good friend. If he says yes, ask him why? Always ask your children why they answered the way they did. Asking why allows for deeper understanding and helps them internalize and apply what you are teaching.

Talk to your children about various qualities that they would want in a friend. They want to look for people who are helpful, obedient, kind, etc. Let them know that people that have admirable qualities make excellent friends. People who always want everything their way and are always trying to get something from others do not make good friends. Looking for good qualities in people will help your children know what to look for in a future spouse.

In a previous blog (Instilling Godly Qualities in Your Children posted March 31), I talked about instilling godly qualities in your children. Help your children see the importance for them to have the traits they would want in a friend in their own lives. They need to be excellent friends to have good friends.

You want to monitor who your children are around, especially while they are young and do not know how to choose good friends. Toddlers imitate, so it is important not to have them around people who have negative traits. When you see great qualities in someone their age, encourage opportunities for them to be together. Invite the child over or go to the park for a play day. You can even start doing activities together as families. You want to be close by while your children play so you can correct any inappropriate behavior.

In the next blog, I will talk about teaching social skills to your children. Today, think about what friends your children have and if they are being a good or bad influence.

By: Linda Svacha 🙂

Staying Attached

Staying attached to your children into their adult life is a wonderful thing. It is a blessing when your children are going to make a big decision and they still come to you to talk it through. Attachment with your adult children does not mean that you will be there to bail them out of their poor decisions. It simply means that you are there to give advice on how they can make wise choices.

The sad thing is that a lot of parents have detached from their children by the time they are teenagers. Many adolescents do not want to even talk to their parents let alone seek advice from them. Why is that? They do not wake up one morning and decide not to talk to their parents. It happens slowly over time.

In the last blog I talked about how the attachment process begins in the womb. Babies totally depend on someone else to meet all their needs and will attach to those who do. If you are the one who feeds, changes, and holds your baby when he cries, your baby will start to know that you are the one to go to when he requires something. Keeping your relationship strong with your children is very important. This does not mean that you give them everything they want; it means that you are the one they go to when they have an issue. Below are some reasons why there is a breakdown in the relationship between parents and children.

  • They have too many authority figures. The more you are the one your child can run to, the deeper the attachment bond. If many people are involved in your child’s care, it becomes a lot easier for your child to go other people when they have a problem, your attachment is weakened. This is why it is important not to have a lot of caregivers when your children are babies.
  • You do not take the time to teach them how to handle things that come their way. For example: Your child is a toddlers and someone stole their toy. They come to you because they are upset and you tell them to quit tattling or say, “Just let them have it.” They learn quickly to deal with it alone.  Many times they use aggression because they do not know how to handle conflict in a positive way. Instead of sending them away, walk them through the steps over and over. When I was a preschool teacher, there was a little girl who would come up to me and say, “Miss Linda, Johnny is in my square.” I would explain to her that she needed to ask Johnny to get out of her square and if he did not, then she could come to me. The next time Johnny was in her square, she again came to me and told me he was in her square. I asked her, “What did Miss Linda say you were to do?” This went on a number of times. Then one day I heard her say, “Johnny, you’re in my square. Will you please move?” How privileged I felt that she knew she could come to me and to have taught her how to deal with the situation. Kids are not born knowing social skills; positive social interaction is taught just as knowing how to spell correctly is taught. You may have to repeat yourself a number of times. Consider it an honor and a privilege that your children are coming to you and not someone else.
  • You have an attitude.
    • Your tone of voice and body language speak volumes. Your children can pick up real quick on the fact that they are an aggravation. When you roll your eyes and say with a tone, “What do you want?” they know that they are a bother. They do not want to be a pest so they stop “bothering” you.
    • As kids enter adolescence they will want to start doing more things on their own. They will do many things without thinking. When they do, it is very important that you do not put them down. Instead, they should know that you will walk them through some of the consequences and ways to do it better next time. They will stop coming to you if you tell them, “How could you be so dumb?” or “You should have known better!” Who wants to be put down when they already feel bad? They will learn that when they make a mistake, to go a friend and we know most friends do not know much more than they do.
    • You have a military parenting style. When kids are growing up, they want to be heard. When you tell them, “Do it because I said so!” it throws up a wall. They are becoming adults and need to be taught why you have the rules you do. When you listen to your children, you are able to know what knowledge they lack to see the whole picture. If they understand why the rules are in place, they are more likely to internalize the reasons themselves. Remember to talk with a caring tone. We will talk more about parenting styles in a future blog.

Be the safe place your children can run to. Walk them through the necessary steps to teach them how to solve their own problems. Keep your attitude right and understand they are coming to you because they are not sure what to do and trust your knowledge. They will learn the skills you are teaching them and you’ll be glad that you were able to instruct them on how to handle conflicts. With the way kids are responding to conflict today, you never know, you just may save someone’s life.

You and God will not be the only ones your children attach to. In the next blog I will talk about ways to help your children have other healthy attachments.

By: Linda Svacha 🙂

Who Are Your Children Attached To?

What is attachment? Attachment is when a person has someone they can connect to, who will be there for them, who will love them unconditionally, and who they can run to when they are afraid or do not know what to do. Who is that person in your child’s life? I hope that person is you. Attachment begins in the womb. A baby can hear voices starting when his/her mother is five months pregnant. After your child is born, it is up to you to keep the attachment strong. Your goal is to keep the relationship between you and your child very tight. You never want your attachment to completely go away. It is a blessing when your children are grow adults and call you for advice or want you to pray with them when they are going through a hard time.

You cannot always be there for your children, but God can. He is available 24/7. Because you cannot always be there, you want their connection with you to decrease and their bond with God to increase. Take every opportunity to let them know that God is always with them and they can always go to Him when you are not around. Since your children cannot see God, you want to model the relationship so they can understand how it works.

Let us look at Scripture to see how God is there for us so we can know how to be there for our children.

  • David was always running to God. Over and over again he said that God was his salvation, his rock, his strength, his refuge, his shelter, and his defense. When your kids are small, are you their salvation (they run to you to save them from that big dog); their rock (your home is stable and secure, emotions are intact); their strength (dad can always open that jar or help them when something is too hard for them); their shelter (loves to be in your arms or bed when it is storming outside; their defense (when a sibling is being mean or unfair, you are there to teach them all to do what is right)? As they get older, you will be with them in different ways.
  • James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Boy, have I used this verse in my life A LOT! You would think God would get tire of me saying, “It’s me again, Lord. You said if I lack wisdom, you will give it to me. Here I am. I do not know what to do……” He never gets tired of me coming to Him. 🙂 Instead, He recalls Scripture to my mind or I will hear something on the radio or in a sermon. I know whatever advice God gives is for my best. I love the part of the verse that says God gives the advice without reproach. If I go to Him with a mistake, He does not make me feel bad. He walks me through the steps to make things right. Can your children come to you even when they have made a bad mistake knowing that you will love them, lead them, and guide them in the proper ways to correct their wrong? If you make them feel bad for getting the ticket, they will not come to you when they make other mistakes. You want to make sure to hold them accountable for their mistakes. If you pay their ticket, you are enabling and not helping them learn to take responsibility of their actions. Your children need your love and support while teaching them that consequences come with decisions.

If your children are afraid to come to you, then they will go to someone else. That someone else may lead them down the wrong path. Many times parents do not even realize that they are detaching themselves from their children and by the time their children are teenagers they will not go to them for anything. In the next blog I will discuss why teens no longer want to go to their parents for advice and comfort.

By: Linda Svacha:)

Discipline is More than Punishment

HELP!!!! My Kids are Out-of-Control

It should be every Christian parent’s goal to raise their children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind and to grow up to be responsible adults. This is not an easy task, but with God by your side it can be done. God has given you His Word to help you with this assignment. It is the parent’s job to keep your children in the safety of God’s commands and when they stray away from His Word, you must use discipline to bring them back.

Many people look as discipline only as punishment. Punishment is part of it and a necessary ingredient, but there is so much more. Webster’s definition of discipline is: punishment; training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. It is important not to use punishment alone, but also to teach and train your children in the right way to go. There will be times when you use teaching and not punishment. Proverbs 22:6 say: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It does not say: “Tell a child the way …” It takes time to train, but it is time well spend. You cannot just tell your children to be kind to others, you need to give them examples and help them see what kindness is.

The following are some things to think about when disciplining your children:

  • You want to focus on changing your child’s heart, not the behavior. When the heart changes, the behavior follows. When you use punishment alone to discipline, it hardens your child’s heart and the behavior continues and can grow more rebellious. Teach them why the behavior you are correcting is harmful. An example is: If they make fun of a child who has a handicap, instead of just reprimanding them, you want to talk about the feelings of the child. Talk about some of the limitations the child may have because of his handicap and how your child would feel if he had those restrictions. Have your child do more than apologize; have them do something special that can make the other child feel better.
  • I have talked about in earlier blogs that children react on emotions. The Frontal Lobe of the brain where abstract (not able to see or touch something) thinking and problem-solving take place does not even begin to develop until between the ages of twelve to fifteen. A younger child does not know to talk or think things though when he is feeling something or having a problem. Instead, he will react on what he is feeling. A child may throw a temper tantrum when he does not get what he wants. Never give in to the tantrum. If you do, you will reinforce the behavior. Let them know it is OK to cry if they cannot get what they want because you know they are sad, but they cannot throw a fit. Tell them again that they will not get what they want by screaming. If they continue, have them go to their room until they feel better. Let them know they just need some alone time to be sad. Tell them when they are done crying, you can pray or talk more with them. Your goal is to get them to talk and it gives you opportunity to instill a value such as not having too many material treasures and being content with their needs being met.
  • Say things once! Your children learn at what point you really mean what you say. If they know they do not have to stop until you are yelling, they will continue to do what they were doing until you yell. Do something immediately. Do not repeat yourself. Proverbs 13:24 “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” The shepherd’s rod was used both for guiding and correcting. The shepherd would use his rod more to gently guide the sheep back to where they belonged. When your child does not stop what he is doing when told, you instantly get up and do what is necessary to stop the behavior (do not forget about the instruction on what is right). If he has to be told more than once, it is because you did not promptly take care of the problem. When the child is small, you may only use teaching and not punishment. For example: Your one-year-old is getting into the cupboards and you do not want him in the cupboards. You would get up and tell him, “No; it is not safe to play in these cupboards.” and then carry him over to the toys that he can play with and tell him, “Yes; these are what you can play with.” After you have done that a number of times and the child looks at you with “the look,” you may need to add some age-appropriate punishment.
  • Never yell! You will not teach your child to be in control by being out of control. When you yell, you are reacting on emotion. Yelling shows that you do not know how to handle your emotions in the correct way. Usually parents yell because they are frustrated. Ask yourself: “What is making me frustrated and what steps do I need to take to alleviate the frustration?”
  • When you are trying to get your children to stop doing something, never lie or say you will do something that you would not do. Do not tell them that they will not get presents for their birthday if they do it again, when you know they will get presents. Do not say you will cut off their fingers the next time they pick up scissors without asking, when you would never do it. If you lie, they will learn not to take your threats seriously.
  • Follow through with what you say you will do. If you tell them they will not go to their friend’s birthday party if they continue their behavior, you need to make sure they do not go if they continue the actions. Think before you say a consequence. You do not want the consequence to be more severe than the crime. You do not want to realize later that the punishment was extreme and take it back. Doing that will only confuse your child.
  • Always let you children know that you love them and always will no matter what. Watch your tone of voice. It tells them if you truly love them.

Take one thought from above and start applying it today. Take action after the first time, do not raise your voice; instead take action, make sure you follow through. Ask God to show you the area that you need to work the most on and begin there. In the next couple of blogs we will talk about the importance of having a good relationship with your children and how to make that happen.

By: Linda Svacha 🙂

Dealing with Anger/Frustration

Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

First, I think it is important to start this off with an understanding that it is not wrong or a sin to be angry. Anger is an emotion and is there to tell you something is wrong. It is what you do with and how you respond to your anger that can be negative. Anger can be a powerful tool when used in a positive way. It is a secondary emotion that usually comes from frustration, hurt, disappointment, or injustice. You want to get to the root of what is causing you to be angry and then do something constructive. If you respond to your frustrations; hurts; and disappointments by yelling and violence, realize that you are reacting to an emotion and not working on what is causing it.

Mother Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) is a great example of someone who used their anger in a positive way. Candice Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The drunk driver hit her daughter and left her body at the scene. Not only was she angry that this man took an innocent life, she was angry about the fact that the driver had previously been arrested for a DUI hit-and-run. I, too, would be furious. Candice was so angry that she probably could have gone and shot the man, but what would that have done? It would have put her in prison. Instead, she got to the source of the problem which was that there were no laws to stop drunk driving. She put her focus on doing something about the cause. MADD has accomplished much (take a look online) because she stopped and got to the root of the problem and took action.

Gary Chapman in his book, The Other Side of Love, gives some good pointers on what to do when you are angry. I will use the example that you are angry because your child is not listening to you. You can replace this example with anything and follow the steps.

  • Acknowledge that you are angry. Stop and say to yourself, “I am angry. Why am I upset?” You are upset because you told your child four times to clean up their toys and he is not listening.
  • Restrain your immediate response. Do not yell or jump up and spank him out of anger.
  • Locate the focus of your anger. The reason you are angry is because your child did not listen the first time.
  • Analyze your options. Ask yourself, “What are some things that I can do that will get my child to listen?” You could take action after saying it one time. You would not get to the point of frustration if you took immediate action. We will talk more about this in the next blog, “Discipline is More than Punishment.”
  •  Take constructive action. If he does not pick up his toys after the first time being asked, you get up and either make him clean up or you take the toy from him and let him know he cannot play with it for a certain period of time because he did not listen the first time.

There will be times that you are angry and have no control over the situation. Times like those, it is good to see what you can learn from the situation. Keep in mind that this world is temporal and while you are on this earth you will have pain and sorrow. If you are a Christian, remember Heaven is the place where you will have no pain, sorrow, or death; everyone will stand before God in the end and give an account for their actions; growing bitterness will only poison you in the end. Do not do something crazy just because someone else is.

If you are not sure what actions you should take, ask someone. It is good to have mentors in your life that you can go to for advice. Make sure those people will give you good, sound advice. Everyone has areas that they struggle with so do not be embarrassed that you are not perfect. Chances are they have had many of the same struggles. If you do not have a mentor, I would suggest that you seek one out today. The best way to find someone is to ask yourself, “Who do I look up to?” Not that you put that person on a pedestal, but you know that person has more wisdom by the way they live their life.

Another thing to do if you struggle with anger is to get some help. Building Strong Families offers a free class, Understanding Anger. If you are interested in the class, please shoot an email to lsvacha@sbcglobal.net and I will contact you. If you struggle with negative responses to anger and you do not live in the area, I highly recommend reading The Other Side of Love by Gary Chapman. The important thing is that you learn to understand what anger is and how to deal with it in a positive way. You will be a much happier person when you get your anger under control.

By: Linda Svacha 🙂

Helping Children Deal with Their Emotions

Children have to be taught to deal with emotions or they will go into adulthood reacting on them. One of most important things to remember when helping children handle their emotions is that you must stay in control of yours. How you handle situations speaks louder than your words. Many adults react and do not think the situation through. A good example is adults who yell. Yelling does not solve the root problem; it causes hatred, bitterness, and wrath. Proverbs 15:1 tells us this: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Yelling also teaches your children that when they are upset, they should yell. If you struggle with yelling, hopefully the next blog, “Handling your Anger/Frustration” will help. I will also talk about yelling in the future post, “Discipline.”

Below is an example of walking your children through a situation.

Fear:  Fear is to be afraid or apprehensive. Many times people are fearful because they do not know the outcome and think the worst. Everyone experiences fear at some time. What do you teach your child to do when afraid?

Let’s say, your child comes to you when there is a bad storm and he is afraid that he is going to die. Here are some things that you would do to alleviate his fear.

  • First, validate his feelings and let him know it is normal, everyone gets scared. The Bible says in Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Tell him that the verse does not say, “if”; it says, “when” I am afraid. Psalm 56:3 shows that everyone experiences fear. Ask him what the verse says to do when he is afraid.
  • Tell him that even Jesus’ disciples, who were grown men and with Him 24/7, were afraid during a storm. Get your Bible story book and read him the story. After you read the story, act it out. Acting out the story helps everyone to relax and visualize what he should do. Ask him why the disciples were afraid. (thought they were going to die) Wow! That was just what your child is feeling. Ask what the disciples did when afraid. (went to Jesus) What did Jesus do? (calmed the storm)
  • Explain to him that people do die in storms, but it is very few. Explain that God knows exactly how long we are going to live and we should not spend our time worrying about it. Instead, you should enjoy the moment. Also, let him know that there are many safety precautions to prevent that from happening.
  • Go to the Lord in prayer and pray something like, “Dear God, Right now Johnny is afraid just like your disciples were. We know if we come to you, you will calm our fears. We put our lives in your hands and trust them with it. We love you and thank you for being a wonderful God.”
  • Now would be a good time to print off some color sheets of the Bible story and color them together. If it is late, maybe you could lie in the bed with him until he falls asleep.
  • Whatever you do, do not lie to him and tell him that no one ever dies. People do and they see it on TV. You need to teach him to trust God.

The important thing to remember is that you want to get to the root of your children’s feelings and help them see the bigger picture. If your children know that they can come to you with their feelings when they are young, they will continue to do so when they are older. If you do not work with them, they will not come to you during their adolescent years when their emotions are all over-the-place. This is just one emotion and one example. In my book, “Pass God’s Legacy to your Children: One Talk at a Time” I have many examples using different emotions. It should be in print this fall.

In the next blog, I will talk about anger. I will go over what it is and what to do when you are angry.

By: Linda Svacha 🙂