You've read the Michael/Debi Pearl "Train Up A Child" books (which I highly recommend). You've searched out and read all the Scriptures relating to child-training. You've read them to your children. You've prayed for wisdom. And patience. You've sighed. You've probably cried, too.
Still they huff. Still they puff. Still they fuss & fight 'till you feel like the walls are closing in all around you.
It's a day-to-day struggle. You never know what mood your children will wake up in, or which side of the proverbial bed they will get up on. But whatever their attitude, as a mother, you control the spiritual thermostat of your home--your reaction to their behavior sets the tone for the home.
One thing I've learned is that my children respond better to praise for a positive action or attitude than correction for a negative one. Now that I think about it, that principle applies to adults too :).
Children need a tangible sign that they are doing something right. A pat on the head and a hug aren't always enough to motivate positive behavior. Thus the heart chart.
I got this idea from a blog post by my friend Chrissy a month or so ago. It isn't anything special, just a white board with a little chart with their names and a place to draw hearts. It gets pretty messy with a 2, 4 1/2, and 6 yo drawing on it, but it does the trick. Whenever one of the children exhibit a positive character trait (working together, helping others, doing the right thing without being asked, etc.), they earn a heart. And they get to draw it themselves. Big plus :). Whenever the opposite, negative behavior is exhibited, they have to erase a heart. Or two, or all (depending on the severity of the behavior). Now I'm not talking about things they should do anyway--like taking their dishes to the sink after meals or cleaning their rooms before they go to bed at night. I mean going above and beyond and really putting effort towards genuinely exceptional behavior.
At the end of the week, if they have at least 5 hearts (one for each day), they are rewarded with a treat. Nothing expensive or extravagant, but things like:
* a trip to Kid City (a free open-to-the-public indoor playground at a neighborhood church)
*a Jr. Frosty from Wendy's (I have about three coupon books for free Frosties)
*a trip to Books-A-Million (our kids LUV to play in the kids' area)
*exemption from nap-time for a day (for the older two).
The amount of hearts for the week is optional--older kids could be expected to get up to 5 hearts a day, for instance.
You would not believe the difference in our home. Our children live to get a heart and are absolutely heartbroken when one is removed. They cheerfully and readily offer to help Mama with whatever I may be doing. School-time attitudes are better, and chore-time is definitely a lot smoother. DH and I have noticed that the positive behavior is getting to be a habit for them, and they are doing the right thing more and more without being prompted or reminded.
I just had to snap a picture of my two girls sweeping the floor this morning. I'm so proud of them!
Proverbs 8:5 says, "O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart."
Proverbs is full of the promise of wisdom to those who seek it--even the simple can have wisdom! My prayer is to be endowed with wisdom concerning the training of my children. What they are allowed to be now are previews of who they will be as adults.
Do you have any successful training methods?