Summer Survival

I’m so excited that the kids are home for summer.  My nine year old daughter, twin 12 year olds daughters, and 15 year old son never fight, love to do their chores, and speak kind and respectful words to me all the time.  Oh wait.. that was a dream.  A fantasy really.

Actually it usually goes more like this.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Really STOP it.  Be nice.  Be nice. BE NICE.  Without a plan I feel helpless.  Just saying the same things over and over raises my frustration level through the roof.  So on the advice of my mentor, I sat down with the kids and let them identify the most recurring “issues” and then suitable consequences.  Funny how they come up with harsher thoughts to punish each other as we brainstormed together.

Below is what we came up with for our family.  I’m certainly not suggesting everyone adopt it.  However, I would say that having a plan that is simple(not necessarily easy), relevant, and with an end goal in mind can head off a lot of summer struggles.  If you aim for nothing, you hit it every time.  Our aim is to raise kids who love the Lord first and treat others the way they want to be treated. (Jesus called them the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments.)  So after we have prayed and discussed – this is what we came up with… open to change and grace at any time.

First the Positive– Every day someone gets a good choice award.  5 of these are redeemable for a date of their choice with mom or dad.  Only one is given each day so they can compete to make wise decisions instead of foolish ones.

Examples of good choices are:  Accepting “no” as an answer with no refutations.  Obeying with a good attitude.  Doing something nice they don’t “have” to do.  You get the idea.

Now – on to the consequences.  These keep my emotions down when I know I have a punishment to fit the crime.  We decided as a family to break it down into 4 basic categories.

1. The lesser, daily (okay maybe hourly) crimes – disrespectful tone of voice or expressions (eye rolling at parents included), rude or unkind words to anyone, whining, monitoring the behavior of siblings, etc.

  • First – warning (everyone needs a little grace)
  • Second – 10 minutes in room
  • Third – Lose a privilege for the next day (ipod, TV, dessert, etc.)

2.   Fighting – needs no explanation.  I never knew being a mom meant long time ownership of a black and white striped shirt!

  • First time – warning
  • Second – Doing a chore together (these are listed in a jar with things like wiping down baseboards, washing a window, wiping down kitchen chairs or cupboards, grace is option in the bowl)
  • Third- lots of chores to be done (gonna have a sparkling house by July!)

3. The BIG TEN – these are the major infractions.  Ten commandment kind of stuff – lying (deception of any kind), stealing (even candy from under their brother’s pillow – this is hypothetical of course), cheating.  These carry bigger punishments.

  • First – making restitution by confessing to whoever they sinned against.
  • Second – no ipod for a month, no friends for 2 weeks, no TV for 2 weeks, etc. We modify by age and intensity of the offense.

4. Okay so we have one more category I would rather not admit we still struggle with at our kids ages.  Outbursts of Anger. These kids came by it honestly with a mom and dad who lose our tempers much more than we’d like.  Just today I asked my nine year old what she thinks she’ll do different as a mom.  No hesitation.  “I won’t ever yell at my kids.”  I told her I hoped that she wouldn’t.  I try to remember my own tendency to sin in this area but not allow it to excuse the times when we encounter outbursts, fits, kicking, slamming, hitting, or anything done in a fit of rage.  Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” So we are back to a practice we used when they were much younger.  Anyone who plays the fool with their anger gets 30 minutes in their room with an anger journal page that asks these four questions:

  • What made me angry?
  • What did I do to display my anger the wrong way?
  • What could I do next time I feel angry instead of hitting,
    kicking, touching, or having a fit of rage that would honor God?
  • Write a Bible verse below that talks about anger:

We’ve only been at our program for 3 days, and I’ve already found this practice very helpful to re-instate.  So it’s not a perfect plan, but its a start to not only surviving summer, but relishing this time with my kids.  When I think that our oldest has only 2 more summers after this one before he graduates, I get teary.  I adore my children and want them to get along and live the unrealistic fantasy of my first paragraph!  However, I know my own sin combined with their own selfish dna means we have to be very intentional and prayerful in our parenting.

Next week I’m going to post our media management and chore plans.  We want to create more than good behavior in our kids, we also desire them to learn to joy of a job well done.  We’ve also found the older they get, the more “plugged in” they become.  So we want to enjoy some famliy movies and let them have some TV, ipad, and ipod time, but with some parameters that leave room for reading, playing games, taking walks, and all the other more connecting family events we engage in when we are unplugged.

Until then we will continue to work the steps of our discipline plan reminding our kids daily of Psalm 133:1, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in harmony!” This momma says, “Amen.”

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