Wednesday, December 9, 2009
These days I'm learning a lot about fatherhood. I'll get to that in a bit. A friend of mine named Brian wrote a book called Engaging Your Teen's World: Become a Culturally Savvy Parent . In it he encourages parents to not simply treat bad actions of kids. He says beneath all actions are values. If we simply respond to the action we may stop the negative behavior but we probably won't change the bad value and we may even hurt our relationship. Rather, he says talk about the value. Ask questions. Affirm your child if the value was actually a good value but that they acted poorly. If we do that, they will understand why their actions were bad and will learn to have a healthy value. I've been teaching this lately to parents in my ministry and it really does work.
However, today I needed to listen to my own advice. Quinn has this "thing" where he likes to go into Tammie's drawer and pull out all of her jewelry and play with it or put it on. We have been getting on to him about this for about 6 months. Toddlers don't necessarily have the capacity to learn when you "affirm their values" so I scolded him yet again about getting into the drawer. As he started to cry I looked around and noticed something different...there were no necklaces or bracelets, no rings or hair clips. On the floor were three pens and a sheet a paper. He just wanted to draw (or as he says, "corrlor").
I said, "Wait bud, do you just want to color?" He stopped crying and started to smile. Then I said, "Next time you want to color either tell me or come over here and use these colors. But you still are not supposed to go into this drawer." He then walked over to the table on which I said he could color and happily created art. Again, he wasn't being bad just to be bad. In fact, he wasn't being bad. He just wanted to create art. I love this little guy.