Mommies say a lot of things to their children. All day. Every day.
“It’s time to get up.”
“I said it’s time to get up!”
“Fine. You’re going to be late for school.”
“Did you wash your face?”
“Hurry and eat your breakfast.”
“Where’s your other shoe?”
“Stop hitting your brother.”
“Don’t forget your lunch!”
“Leave the car window up.”
“Stay out of the puddles.”
“Don’t throw that!”
“Eat your supper.”
“You’re not allowed to watch that show.”
“You can’t have a snack because you didn’t eat your supper.”
“It’s time for your bath.”
“Get back in bed.”
“If I have to tell you one more time…”
Children don’t come already trained, so it’s mommy’s responsibility to teach them, and we use our words to do just that. It’s necessary. But what if we went from talking at our children to talking to our children? Is there a difference? Yes, I believe so. The phrases at the beginning of this post would be considered talking at our children.
What if at bedtime we say to our child who is of school age and is having trouble getting up in the mornings:
“Your alarm clock is set for 6:30. When it goes off in the morning, because you’re going to bed when Mommy has told you, you will have slept for nine hours! You need to get up and turn off the alarm. Then after you’ve washed up in the bathroom, come downstairs for breakfast. We’re going to have your favorite Blueberry muffins and oatmeal before you go to school! As long as you get up right away, you’ll have time for both the oatmeal and the muffin. If you sleep in, you’ll have toast instead of the muffin. Now let’s pray and ask the Lord to help you sleep well and get up on time.”
While talking to your child doesn’t guarantee obedience and compliance, it sets the precedence for what is expected and what will happen if they choose to disobey. Instead of nagging all day long, moms need to be instructing them (talk to their child) before the situations arise.
Consider another scenario:
Before you head to the grocery store you talk to your child, eyeball to eyeball and tell them what’s on the agenda for the afternoon and what’s expected of them. Then there are no surprises.
“Rebecca, Mommy has to go to town and go to the grocery store. Before we leave, you may choose a CD you’d like to listen to in the car. We’re not going to buy treats at the store today, but you may take a snack with you from our snack basket to eat while I shop. I will need you to stay in the cart while I shop, so you will be safe. Now, when can you eat your snack? Where are you to sit while I shop? That’s right! Will you help me count how many things we put into our cart? When we get home, if you have obeyed by sitting in the cart and not asking for treats, we’ll read your book, “Ten Items or Less.” Ready to find a CD and a snack? Let’s go!”
By talking to your child beforehand, you’ve told them what’s going to happen, what they can do and what they can’t do. You’ve also told them about the reward if they obey. You have provided instruction so that the begging in the store, the whining to get down, the asking for everything they see has already been addressed. If they start with those scenarios, you ask, “What did we talk about in the living room before we left?” If it continues, remind them they’ve lost the reward of the story afterwards. If it still continues, then leave the cart and the groceries, and head to the car to do the necessary instruction on their “seat of learning” in private. Then return to the store.
It’s so much more loving to talk to your child before situations arise. I’m sure thankful the Lord gives us loving instruction in His Word. He is our example. We need to love our child enough to instruct them. We respect them enough to know that they can listen and obey. And the truth is, that you’ll be doing much less of the nagging-kind of talking at your child because you’ve spent quality time talking to them. You’ll notice the difference, and so will your child!
What part of instructing your child is most challenging to you?