Showing posts with label Behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Behavior. Show all posts

Dec 18, 2018

How is Toothpaste Like Your Tongue?

Why Words Can't be Taken Back
Here's a fun way to help kids visualize and remember that words can't really be taken back.

Have your child grab a tube of toothpaste (for this exercise, I bought a tube at the Dollar Tree; any brand will do) and cover a table with a plastic tablecloth. Tell him to squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the cloth. In my experience, kids think this is loads of fun. (After all, all their life they've been told not to use too much toothpaste or squirt it all over the bathroom counter!)

When he is all done, listen to the squeals as you tell him: "Now, put the toothpaste back in the tube!" If you want to up the ante, you can offer a monetary reward or a special privilege if he can complete this (impossible) task.

When your child gives up, say:

"The toothpaste is like your tongue. Once words come from your tongue, it's impossible to get them back inside your mouth. That's why we have to be careful what we say. You may wish you could take words back, but you really can't. Hurtful words, once out of your mouth, stay out."

Then look up some Bible passages together about taming the tongue; here are some to get you started:

"Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble." Prov. 21:23

"Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing." Prov. 12:18

"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." Prov. 10:19

"Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips." Ps. 141:3

"If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. " James 1:26

"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Eph. 4:29

"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies." 1 Pet. 3:10

"Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself." James 3:2-6

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." Prov. 15:1

"Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent." Prov. 17:28

"[For there is] A time to be quiet and a time to speak." Ecc. 3:7

When I originally did this project with my kids, my oldest was just 5. She loved the exercise, and afterward, any time her tongue started saying something it shouldn't, all I had to say was "Toothpaste!" Now my oldest is a teen and this exercise is a dim memory for her. Given how tongue-vicious our society is these days, I think it's a great time to re-do this valuable life lesson with both my children.

A version of this post originally appeared in April of 2011.

Nov 7, 2018

His Grace is Revealed through Parenting

This post first appeared in June 2015.

The morning was like many recent mornings. My daughter seemed too tired to listen to my brief instructions about what she needed to do before we started school work. I had to repeat them at least six times. Then she took an hour to dress and brush her teeth and hair. Then, instead of doing school work, she chose to stare out the window, daydreaming. 
When I told my 6 year it was time to start school, he said "No!," then tried to run away from me. (Why did we ever move into a house with a circular floor plan??) When I finally caught him, disciplined him, and got him seated at the kitchen table, I marked the rows of handwriting practice I wanted him to do. He purposefully chose to do rows I didn't mark. When I made him come back to the table and do the rows I marked, he argued with me, saying, "You hate me! You're the worst Mommy ever!"

That was it. I broke into tears. Here I was trying to do right by my children, and all they could do was fight me and make everything more difficult.

My son's heart instantly softened and he gave me a big hug as I reminded him, "I do the things I do, and ask the things I ask of you, because I love you."

He patted my back and I wiped away my tears of frustration and hurt. Then he turned around and did the work I had asked him to do, this time without complaint.

Parenting isn't for the faint of heart, and there's nothing wrong with having one of those days when all you want to do is cry. In fact, crying makes you feel a wee bit better. And if you don't hide those tears from your children, wet cheeks can suddenly put things in perspective for them.

As for me, while my children took new interest in doing their school work, I took up some housework and prayed.

"God, thank you for reminding me how I look in your eyes. I know I often don't listen to you as well as I should. I often take too long to do the things you ask me to do. Sometimes my heart rebels and I say 'No!' Sometimes I wonder how a God who loves me can let certain things happen. I am a sinner, Lord. Thank you for showing me grace. And please help me to teach my children about your amazing grace, too."


...He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.

Jun 13, 2018

Why You Shouldn't Be a Servant to Your Kids

How to Help Your Kids Have a Servant's Heart
At some point, I think most modern adults look at the younger generation and are amazed by their general self-centeredness and expectations of entitlement. (Of course not all young people are this way, but these traits are certainly pervasive in our society.) Recently, I saw a video that encapsulated this problem. I don't normally watch this type of television - but I bumped into it on social media, and was prompted to watch it due to the remarks it was receiving. Oh. My.

Then the issue of being entitled and unwilling to serve others hit close to home.

The Problem with Chores

When we lived in the suburbs, I was careful to teach my kids how to do basic chores like laundry and dishes, and made sure they lent a helping hand most days. But when we moved to our rural homestead, this became more difficult. For example, we have to carry laundry to another building, which is physically more challenging. Plus, it's harder for me to supervise to make sure, say, the lint trap is properly cleaned so it doesn't start a fire. Our dishwasher is also weirdly placed, and because we have hard water, more than just ordinary dish detergent must be added. Probably the biggest problem, though, has been my health. I've been so exhausted - first with undiagnosed diabetes and then with acute anemia - that I simply didn't have it in me. It was all I could do to do chores myself; I didn't have the energy to patiently teach.

Fast forward to the weeks where I was prepping for my recent surgery. I did everything I could to make life easier for my husband and kids. Sure, I could have turned to my husband and said: "Dinner? Laundry? Dishes? All that other stuff I do? It's up to you to figure it all out." Indeed, many women in my online hysterectomy support group do just that. But that's the way of the world, isn't it? I wanted to do things God's way. So, striving toward a servant's heart, I made freezer meals that could quickly and easily be warmed in the microwave (which my kids know how to use) and took a lot of time and effort to make other chores as easy as possible.

One of those preps was making sure my oldest was comfortable running the washer and dryer (including adequately cleaning the lint trap and properly putting it back in place), that my youngest knew how to empty the dishwasher correctly, and that my oldest was reasonably proficient in putting dirty dishes in the machine. (We used a lot of paper plates, too, but the utensils, cups, and bowls added up quickly!)

The next thing I knew, though, my oldest was telling me my youngest preferred to put dirty dishes in the machine, rather than take clean ones out. She also said she preferred to put clean dishes away. Hmm...Because I have a higher than average counter and sink, I didn't think this would work well - but I told her we'd try things their way.

When I told my son what his sister said, however, he denied it.

See what was going on? Neither of my kids wanted to do any chores. Worse, they didn't have a servant's heart.

Servant? Or Master?

Neither kid wanted to do dishes. I admit, this wounded me. Not only as an individual (I confess my first thought was: "I slave for you, kids, and yet you aren't willing to do dishes when I'm physically unable to???"), but also as a parent; I realized then what unwilling servants my children were. We had a serious heart-issue going on.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but what I've observed, both in my own little family and in other families, is that the more parents serve their children, the less their children are willing to serve. Many a mommy (myself included) has hoped that serving their children well will set a great example and inspire their kids to serve others. But instead, it seems to just make kids entitled.

How to Help Your Kids Have a Servant's Heart

If you find yourself with kids who don't have servants hearts, what do you do? Here's what I did:

* Do Bible studies on how God wants us to be servants. Got Questions,, and Open Bible offer some good resources to start with. We were in the middle of reading the gospels, so it came naturally to talk about Jesus' servanthood and how he wants us to follow his example.

* Insist your children serve others. Age-appropriate chores at home is a decent place to begin. Today, I don't let anything - even school work - to get in the way of chores (because my children's spiritual health is way more important than their grades).

* Make certain your kids see you serve others - your husband, the needy, etc. Focus less on serving your kids, and make sure anything they can do, they do least most of the time. They need those life skills, anyway!

Did it Work?

I'm happy to say my kids stepped up to the plate when I came home from surgery. (It helped that a grandma was there to insist upon it. Thank you, Grandma!) And acting as a servant helped them to see a few things that are vital to their future spiritual health:

* They are capable.

* They can be more independent.

* It's good to help others. God wants us to do it!

* Mom works really hard for our benefit.

My children are still doing a lot of things around the house: Caring for critters, laundry, dishes, cleaning the floors, helping to clean the bathroom...and they will continue to do so. For their own well being.

What are you doing today to ensure your kids have a God-desired servant's heart?

May 15, 2018

Helping Dawdlers

Helping Dawdling Children
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Tomorrow I'm having surgery; since I'm busy prepping for that, I'm updating an older post, rather than attempting to write a whole new one. The good news for you is that instead of reading about my beginner's experience with dawdlers, I can now offer you 12 years of experience!

That's because my daughter is a Dawdler Supreme. I have never seen a child dilly-dally as much as she does. Throughout her life, I've tried a lot of things to help cure her of dawdling - primarily because (I admit it!) it drives me absolutely crazy! Some things have helped more than others, and even though she still dawdles, as she ages, we see improvement. So my first word of advice is:

* Remind yourself (repeatedly!) that teaching your child to get a move-on is probably going to take years.

Additional helps:

* Keep in mind the big picture. During those times when all you want to do is yell at your dilly dallier, pray instead - while remembering the ultimate goal is not to upset your child or make him feel bad, but to help him learn the joys of being punctual and getting work done.

* It doesn't help to give a lecture on dawdling when you're in the midst of trying to hurry your child. Instead, find a relaxing few minutes later in the day to discuss why it's important not to dilly dally. Talk about the negatives of dawdling, sure, but end with the positive effects of getting things done in a timely fashion.

* Ask yourself whether you're expecting too much. Is the thing you want your child to do age-appropriate?

* Break down the steps for your child. For example, if you ask a 4 year old to get dressed, she might get overwhelmed and not know where to start. But if you stand nearby and talk her through the steps - one at a time - I'll bet she can handle it. Yes, there are definitely times you'll need her to get dressed without your help, but before you can do that, you must carefully teach her how to do it.

* Help your child become a problem solver. When you're not in the midst of trying to rush, sit down with your child and discuss one area where he or she repeatedly has trouble with dawdling. Ask your child to come up with come up with solutions that either you or your child can implement.

* Sometimes dawdlers just need more time. For example, if your child takes forever to get into bed, maybe you need to start the bedtime routine earlier in the evening.

* Make it a race. Some kids respond well to competition, so you can say something like, "Whoever gets dressed first gets to [insert special reward here]!"

* Give your child a checklist. If your child is too young to read, simple pictures showing tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed may help.

* Help your child recognize cause and effect. Sometimes saying something like "I see you've changed your clothes before 7:30. That's great! Now there's time for us to sit down and read a book together." Other times, you might have to gently say, "It's already 8:00. I'm sorry; there's no time for a book this evening."

* Teach kids clock awareness. Help your child become aware of the ticking minutes by saying things like, "It's 12:30. That's lunch time." And "It's 1 o'clock. Lunch is over." Another great project is to give your child a stop watch and a list of activities (like "toast a piece of bread," "prepare a bowl of cereal," and "feed the cat") and help him or her time each one. Most dawdlers have a bad sense of how fast time passes, and activities like this can make them more aware of time moving.

* Help your child notice time passing - without nagging. Say something like "You have 5 minutes to get your shoes on." At 4 minutes, say, "You only have 1 minute left, hon. If your shoes aren't on in 1 minute, we're going outside without you." It's important not to yell. Or repeat.

* Use a timer or - better yet - the Time Timer. The Time Timer (pictured right) has a red section that allows children to easily visualize how much time they have left. My daughter responded exceedingly well this little clock and we had good results with it. I even used it for her homework; for example, I gave her a set of math problems, set the Time Timer to a reasonable time limit, and told her to "try to beat the clock."

* Use a timer to help feel time pass. Get your child started with whatever job he needs to get done, then set the timer for, say, 10 minutes. Tell him this is only to help him feel time passing. When the 10 minutes have passed, have him evaluate what he's accomplished, if anything. Then set the timer for another 10 minutes...and so on. When I used this method, I no longer heard things like, "It can't possibly be time to leave yet! Only a minute has passed!" I don't believe that when my daughter said such things they were an exaggeration. I think that's how the passage of time really felt to her. We often say that our dear daughter just has a different internal clock. By using this method of noting how time passes, we are helping her to adjust her internal clock to become more in line with the rest of the world.

This original version of this post appeared in June 2011.

Oct 24, 2017

What Fills Your Day? An Easy Experiment for Kids

Easy Experiment for Children
Years ago, my firstborn and I conducted a preschool experiment that, given the culture we live in, ought to be required for people of all ages. Not only does it illustrate how easy it is to fill our lives with less important things, it also shows there's always room for Jesus, every single day.

To prepare, I cut up some inexpensive sponges, dug out an empty glass jar (see-through plastic works, too), and filled a pitcher with water.

I laid the sponges and the jar on the table and asked my daughter to name some things that fill her day. She came up with many things, from brushing her teeth and hair to doing school work and playing with her toys. For each thing she named, I asked her to place one piece of sponge in the jar.

Soon I said, "It doesn't seem like there's room for anything else, does there?" We then took a few minutes to discuss whether she had filled her jar with time wasters, less important things, or truly important things. "If we remove some of the less important sponges - like maybe watching cartoons - will you have room for more important things, like visiting with friends?" I asked. She readily agreed.

Then I touched the pitcher of water. "Jesus is like this water," I said, as I slowly poured the liquid into the jar. She wasn't sure she understood, so I explained: "It seemed there was room for nothing else in the jar, didn't it? But there was plenty of room left for this water. Sometimes our lives seem so busy - much too full for us to spend time with God. But there is always time for Him. And what do you notice about the sponges now?"

She said they were bigger. "Yes, the sponges grew, didn't they?" I said. "That's what Jesus does to us. When we make time for him, he fills us up with lots of good things."

It's a lesson she never forgot.

This post was originally published in a slightly different form on 10/9/09.

Jan 12, 2017

Parenting for the Future, Not for the Right Now

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

So often in parenting, we parent for the right now. We need them to behave...right now. We need them to obey, be quiet, do their school work, do their chores...right now. But how often does the future come into play as we parent each day?

Recently, I've been reading Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard, and one small section really grabbed me:

"[God] created Adam and Eve as grown adults. He saw His creation in its adult form, and then He worked backward. We must be able to see our children as adults if we are to start putting the traits in them today that we deem important for tomorrow...You can apply this method in a couple of different ways. One is visualizing how you would like for them to be as adults and then prioritizing and teaching them those behaviors."

Prioritizing the behaviors you most want to see in your adult children? This is parenting for the future, for sure.

How might that play out in real life?

Well, I have one child who is stubborn and strong willed. This doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing. How can I teach her to use her strong willed personality in a way that's pleasing to God? I can teach her about Christian martyrs, for sure. (The Torchlighters DVDs are an excellent resource for that, by the way.) I can teach her the difference between being true to God and being worldly. I can teach her to stand up for others. I can teach her to be stubborn for God. In fact, recently I've been telling her, "Be stubborn about doing what's right."

When I visualize the man I hope my youngest child will become, one thing that comes to mind first is that he be willing to work hard - for his family, for God, for what's good and right. Right now, he can honestly be a bit lazy. So if I want him to grow into a hard working man, I need to start training him to embrace work now.

What about your kids? What kind of people would you like them to become? How can you start training them to be those people today?

Nov 21, 2016

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful...All Year Round

It's good that we set aside one day a year to focus on being thankful. It's bad that we set aside one day a year to focus on being thankful.

Both statements are true. A yearly holiday that's at least supposed to make us think of all the things we're thankful for is a good thing. But cultivating a thankful heart every day is really what the family of a Proverbs 31 Woman aspires to. Indeed, an attitude of thanksgiving is readily recognized as a balm for much that plagues our society today.

But as parents, just how do we go about encouraging a thankful heart?

* Show gratitude yourself. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children. If your kids see you expressing gratitude on a regular basis, they are more apt to dwell on the things they are thankful for, too. Action Ideas: Say thank you more often than you need to; express grateful moments out loud ("Mrs. Smith is so kind to think of us this way!"); show how gratitude leads you to do for others ("Mrs. Smith gave us her son's old books, so I think it would be nice to make her a batch of cookies.")

* Show them the world. Americans, even those who are considered poor, mostly have it easy compared to people in much of the world. It's a big mistake to shelter your children from the difficulties so many other people experience - or to simply neglect to teach them about those who have less. Instead, make a point of regularly talking about, learning about, and seeing people who have less than you do. Action Ideas: Take a family trip to a third world country; look at photos from National Geographic (or an online search) showing how the less fortunate live; read articles about daily struggles in other countries or communities; volunteer at a homeless shelter; think out loud about other people's needs ("Did you notice that Judy seems lonely? I wonder what we could do to cheer her?").

* Do something about it. Praying for the needy is very good. But come up with other ways you and your children can help those in need. For example, my sister's family has made it a tradition to cook dinner for the homeless each Thanksgiving. Whatever you do, though, don't limit it to the holiday season. Each month, aim to have a project that helps others. Action Ideas: Have your kids focus on earning money so they can give to their favorite charity, like World Vision; encourage your child to mow your neighbor's lawn or help the neighbor with weeding; as a family, visit the elderly; at least once a week, have each child find one way to be kind to a sibling.

* Make thankfulness an important part of daily prayer. When you teach your children to pray, be sure to insert prayers of thanksgiving on a regular basis. Action Idea: There is always something to be thankful for! Make sure you acknowledge that before your Creator - and during family prayer times.

* Write thank you notes. Growing up, I was never encouraged to do this, and where we live, it seems to be a dying tradition. Let it not be that way at your house. Action Ideas: Children who can't yet write, can draw a thank you picture; kids who can scrawl a few words should; young children needn't write a thank you note for every single gift (that could be an overwhelming and negative experience), but perhaps they can write one big thank you note and send copies of it to every gift giver.

* Think of others first. Gratitude is the natural outpouring of the greatest commandments: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'....and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matt 22: 37-39) Therefore, teach your child what true love is: Putting others before yourself. Action Ideas: Talk about specific ways to love others in everyday life; when you see someone put others first, point it; think out loud about showing love ("I'm going to bring Mrs. Jones her mail today, just because.")

* Everyday traditions. Consider adding some traditions to your life that encourage every day thanksgiving. Action Ideas: Have one night a week where everyone at the dinner table talks about things they are thankful for; once a month make gratitude rolls; keep a family gratitude journal - a list of things you are thankful for.

* Memorize Scriptures about being thankful. Do it as a family! Some suggestions to get you started:

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thesselonians 5:18

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:17

"Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 106:1

How do you teach your children thankfulness? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!

Sep 27, 2016

Sex Ed: Some Recommendations for the Christian Parent

When I was about 12 years old, my mother handed me a sex ed book our family doctor had recommended. She'd never talked about sex or puberty before, so I thought it as kind of weird. Still, I read the book. The saddest part was, it didn't teach me anything I hadn't already learned from my friends and acquaintances. What a shame.

A shame, because my parents lost the opportunity to teach me the truth about sexuality.

That was in the 1980s. Now imagine your child today learning about sex from her friends and acquaintances. And, since we've become such a sex-crazed society, the media, too.

Because make no mistake about it, if you don't teach your child about sex, she will learn about it elsewhere. And the messages the world sends about sex today is twisted and untruthful and hurtful.

Did you know that some researchers believe the average age American boys first see porn is 8? (Other experts say "before the age of 18.") Or that each year one in four teens get a sexually transmitted disease? That by age 18, most American teens have had extra-marital sex? That teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have STDs as any other teen? That the average American teen has been exposed to 0.93 hours of sexuality in movies? (This seems a low estimate to me!) And that for each hour of exposure to sexual content in films, the risk of initiating sex at each age increased by more than five times? Did you know that 7 percent of high school kids have had sex before the age of 13? And that by 9th grade, a third of students have become sexually active (and by 12th grade, two thirds are sexually active)? And 60% of teens overall regret they started having sex? And while I have no stats to prove it, I believe the age of sexual activity is lowering rapidly. This is based on anecdotal evidence, such as someone telling me their 9 year old son attended a "rainbow party" where all the girls wear a different color lipstick and the boy with the most colors on his penis "wins."

Undoubtedly, most parents need to start talking to their children about sex earlier than they think they need to.

But how does a Christian parent go about this? First and foremost, I encourage you not to have one big, informational-dump "talk." Not only can this be overwhelming for your child, but it doesn't encourage children to come to you with their "embarrassing" questions. More than anything else, you should strive to become the human source your child comes to when he has questions about sexuality. (Actually, the human source when your child has questions about anything.) The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to talk to your child regularly about sexual matters, starting from a young age.

How young, you may ask? As soon as they start asking questions about private parts - and maybe sooner. My recommendation is preschool. I know that seems very, very young. But my recollection from preschool is that children were already showing each other their private parts - and more. How much more likely are they to do that today?

For this mama, the rule is: Answer all their questions honestly, in an age appropriate way. 

This doesn't mean going into nitty gritty details when they are very young. Usually, simple (but honest!) answers are enough to satisfy young kids. An example: If your preschooler asks you why Tommy's bottom looks different from hers, a good explanation might be: "Because God made boys and girls to look different down there. But we keep those parts private most of the time and share them only at certain times: When a doctor needs to look, or Mommy or Daddy need to help you with the potty or maybe some medicine, or, once you're grown up and married, when you're with your husband."

In addition to making these talks a regular part of your lives, I can also recommend using a few Christian sex ed books. I really like what we've read of the God's Design for Sex series. I began reading The Story of Me, which gives the basics of where babies come from, to my kids when they were about preschool age. When they were in the first or second grade, I began reading the second book in the series, Before I Was Born. However, I omitted certain phrases (one in particular), which I explain in detail here.

There are books for older kids in the series, too, but I haven't yet read them to my kids. (You can see reviews for some of them, plus other Christian sex ed books, on my old blog Christian Children's Book Review.) In addition, when I wanted to teach my daughter about menstruation, I read her The Care and Keeping of You. This American Girl book does a good job of explaining the changes that happen during puberty. My only complaint is that it assumes girls don't want to talk to their parents about this topic. Since I read the book aloud to my daughter, I was able to omit that part of the text.

One other recommendation: Don't be wishy washy.

When explaining matters of sexuality, teach from God's Word with confidence.

Don't let worldliness taint the conversation. For example, don't say, "Wait to have sex until your married...but if you decide to have sex before then, use a condom." This is such a mixed message! It makes sex outside of marriage seem permissible, and worse, it makes God's Word sound like something you can ignore or change! I understand the desire to protect our children from STDs and per-marital pregnancy, but the world is already pushing condoms onto our kids. Stand firm in God's Word.

Finally, do your best not to preach. Remember, you're not telling your children how to follow your opinions about sexuality; you're explaining to them God's design for sex.

And that is a beautiful thing.

Aug 1, 2016

How to Help Kids Through a Move

8 ways to help kids survive a move
Even though my children couldn't wait to move - to live in a rural area, to have room for more animals, to live near Grandma and Grandpa and cousins - moving was a bit of a challenge. Especially for my 10 year old daughter. She was, after all, leaving the only home she'd ever known and moving to a new, totally unknown location. It was exciting, but scary and a little sad, too.

Whether you're moving to an apartment across town, or making a big move from urban life to country life, or moving to a new state or country, there are things you can do to help make the transition easier for your kids. Here are a few ideas that worked well for us.

1. Talk about the good things. This works best if it's part of a natural conversation, rather than a "let me sit you down and tell you something" sort of thing. Engage your child. Ask her what she can look forward to at the new place. Help her come up with more things to look forward to. (Just make sure they are realistic.)

2. Talk about the sad things. What will you miss about your old home? What memories do you have there? Remind your child that he will always have those memories, no matter where he lives. Allow your child to vent or speak freely about what he'll miss. Encourage your child to talk to God about these things, too.

3. Talk about her new room. Help your child imagine her new room. How can it be better than her old one? How would she like it to look? For my daughter, I browsed Pinterest ahead of time (so I could weed out unrealistic images) and made a board with ideas for her room. She loved looking at the Pins with me, and dreaming about how nice her new room would be.

4. Capture the old. Help your child find ways to capture his memories of his old home. For example, if your child likes to take photographs, encourage him to take some of the old house and put them in a special photo album. My daughter was especially fond of an old maple tree in our yard. Unbeknownst to me, she picked a leaf off of it as a keepsake and was in tears when it got lost. So we got another leaf from the tree and she did a leaf rubbing of it, which she plans to keep forever.

5. Say goodbye. There's a certain closure in saying goodbye out loud.

6. Take special care the first few nights. Many children don't like sleeping in unfamiliar places, so go out of your way to make things comfortable for your child. Use plenty of night lights (one in her room, one or more in the hallway, one in the bathroom). Make sure your child has all her favorite lovies (teddy bear, special blanket, etc.). And consider letting all the children sleep in one room together (even if they don't normally) for a few nights; this will add to their feelings of safety and security.

7. Make dreams come true. Tackle your child's room as soon as possible after the move, making it comfortable and homey. Think about the things your child dreamed for her room and make them a reality (as long as they are within reason). All those things your child was looking forward to about moving? Don't put them off; start doing them soon, so your child can quickly adjust to her new life. As an example, my daughter had been pining for a new pet rabbit ever since her first one died over a year ago. She knew she had to wait until we moved to get a new one, and about a week after we took possession of our new home, she fell apart, sobbing. Her heart just couldn't take the waiting any more. We picked up her new rabbit that weekend, and she's been a happy child ever since.

8. Be thankful. Talk about what you like about your new home, and thank God aloud for these things during the course of your day and when you're praying with your children. Encourage your children to do the same. Nothing heals a heart faster than thankfulness to the Lord!

This post featured at

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

May 26, 2016

The True Meaning of Modesty

Growing up, I don't recall anyone using the word "modesty." Sure, there was the Sunday school teacher who took me aside and gently suggested that the lace-up bodice of my beloved thrift store Gunne Sax dress tended to come loose, revealing a wee bit of bosom. ("You're getting older now, and have to think about these things," she said.) But nobody explained why I should care if said bosom showed.

I grew up performing in theater - a profession where true modesty tends to be ignored. As a teen, I became a pro, but before then, I often performed in community productions where there was very little dressing room space. It wasn't unusual for me to have to strip down to undies in the wings - and though my mother had me wear teddies in such situations, I really never considered why.

Even as an adult, modesty didn't much enter my thoughts. I recall the crew of one musical I was performing in jokingly giving me an award for "best cleavage." Looking back at photos of that show, I can see how the folks in the lighting booth must have found it difficult to look at anything but my cleavage.

It really wasn't until I began having children that the topic of modesty even crossed my mind. So, unlike a lot of Christian bloggers talking about modesty, I have a bit of an unique background in this area; I've gone from someone who never thought about it at all, to someone who's gradually learned its importance.

As has been mentioned by many writers, the trouble with the modesty discussion is that it tends toward legalism. In fact, I see many Christian women who were raised with strict rules about modesty rejecting all teaching about modesty because modesty was used as a control device in their childhood households.

To be sure, we should never become like the subjected women of some other religions. As Christians, we are free. Nobody should use our looks, what we eat, what we drink, etc., to control us.

However, as Christians we are also called to wisdom. As Galatians 5: 12 - 14 says:

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
There's no doubt we are visual creatures and that what we see can cause us to sin. Although many women reject the idea that females are responsible for men's thoughts, as Proverbs 31 women, we must not think as the world does; we must not put ourselves above anyone else - including men who may sin because of our short skirt or low-cut blouse. Because if we love one another, we cannot be a stumbling block for each other. As Romans 14: 13-15 says:
"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister...If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died."
Or, as the ESV version says (emphasis mine):

"It is good not anything that causes your brother to stumble."

So as I teach my children (both my boy and girl) about modesty, I focus on the basics. I started when they were toddlers, with conversations that began like this: "God wants you to keep your private parts private. They are called 'private' because they are for you, your doctor - and someday, when you're married - your husband to see."

But we don't just focus on our bodies - because the root of modesty isn't how we dress, but how we think and feel

The definition of modesty isn't "long skirts" or "not wearing low cut blouses." The actual definition of modesty is being free from vanity, pretentiousness, and a general attitude of "look at me!" The jist of the most famous Bible verses on modesty are nicely summed up in 1 Timothy 2:9: We should not wear (or do) things in order to draw attention to ourselves.

So modesty is all about the heart. (Isn't that just like God?)

Therefore, our conversations often sound like this:

"Are you feeling humble? Or are you feeling vain, wanting others to notice you?"

"Are you putting yourself above others by acting this way? What would Jesus say about that?"

And yes, even:

"If you wear that skirt and bend over, will your undies show? Or will onlookers expect that your undies will show? Will that draw attention to you?"

"Are those pants so tight, your private parts are obvious? Will that draw attention your way? What does Jesus say about that?"

"Why are you so worried about how you're dressed? Are you feeling pretentious? Or humble?"

It comes down to this: The modesty issue does not have to be complicated if we simply know the definition of modesty, and recall that God calls us to serve and love others.

Aug 13, 2015

My Crazy Life...and Back to School

The give away pile.
Has anyone ever told you I'm crazy? They were right, you know. Or at least, that's how I feel this week. You see, I've started packing. We have some repairs to make on our house, and we need to have our stuff out of the way before we can start on them. Our little hauling trailer is empty now (the first load of things is already in our shipping container) and soon the shipping container will be insulated and completely ready to be filled with furniture, family photos, books, and yes, even my piano. But I'm doing the packing alone - in my spare time (ahem). Time is a little critical here (gotta get it done before the rainy season). So I'm feeling a weeeee bit stressed.

Because in addition to packing and working on and off for clients, I'm prepping for school. My daughter is begging to start, but I'm not quite ready yet. This year of homeschool will be my most complicated ever, since my son is starting kindergarten and 1) it will be the first time I've really taught two grades at once (to my way of thinking, preschool is so easy, it doesn't count) and 2) I'm working hard to make kindergarten as interesting as possible for my son, who is an unwilling school kid. So there's that.

Plus, I'm preparing for a birthday party. Every year, my husband and daughter share a party, and most of our local family comes. As it happens, this is also the year my daughter turns a decade old, so it feels like a bigger deal than usual. So as I pack, work, and prep for homeschool, I'm also working up games (like a bean bag toss, pin the tail game, and pinata). The good news is, my daughter wants to help with everything. Finally, her "I want to do it myself" attitude is paying off!

At any rate, you can see that all this doesn't leave much time for blogging. So today, I just want to point you to some archived posts about getting the kids back to school. I hope they help you!

* Back to School Breakfast Ideas - Quick, healthy ways to get your kids off to a great start each day.

* Back to School = I Love My Crockpot - Make school time easier by making good use of your slow cooker.

* Age Appropriate Chores for Kids - Back to school time is an ideal time to set up or revise chore charts!

* Sleep Deprivation: The Childhood "Epidemic" - Poor sleep means poor learning; here's how to help your child sleep better.

* 5 Safety Rules for Every Kid - School time often means more time away from mom and dad. Be sure your kids know these important safety tips.

* Why Homeschool Preschool? - Why I, and so many others, choose to homeschool during the preschool years.

* Homeschool Preschool: Thoughts on Readiness - How do you know when your child is ready to learn?

* Letter of the Week Activities - Easy crafts to help toddlers and preschoolers learn their letters and the sounds they make.

* Activities to go with The Little House on the Prairie Books - This series has been a real blessing in our house. If you're considering reading it to your children, consider some of these easy "go-withs."

* Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling - Tips from a mom who's been there!

* 10 Ways to Save Money on School Supplies - In case you missed it.

Jul 27, 2015

"What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?" Is it the Right Thing to Ask?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" It's a question children are asked regularly, but my 9 year old daughter hesitated before answering. She looked down at the ground. Then she looked up, cleared her throat, and her words flowed: "A missionary and a singer and an actress and an astronaut and a mechanic and a scientist..." Some kids may have a pat answer that pleases adults, but not my girl.

I smiled. We've talked about this before, she and I. "There's no reason you can't be an astronaut and a scientist and mechanic. In fact, astronauts have to do a lot of science and need to be able to fix machines. Then maybe you could sing and act for fun - as a hobby. It could even be part of your missionary work. You might have to do that on vacations..." Who am I to squash her dreams?

But you know one question I've never heard anyone ask her?

"What does God want you to be when you grow up?"

Oh, I'm not talking about general character traits like being honest or loving - though of course God wants us to have those traits. No, I mean something far more specific: What are God's plans for your life? What is he going to do with you?

I recently asked my daughter this, and from her puzzled expression, I could see it was something she'd never considered.

I didn't try to answer the question for her. That's between her and God. And just asking the question will have her thinking about it for some time, no doubt. And perhaps that's enough. Too many of us just don't think about what God's plans for us are. Perhaps it's an American trait - part of the idea that as Americans, we can do anything we put our mind to. There's nothing wrong with that, per se. But as Christians, we have a bigger purpose.

Trouble starts, however, when we decide for ourselves what God wants us to do. Like Jonah, who didn't want to minister to his enemies. Or like Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tails, who explains this trouble in his book Me, Myself, and Bob. Once Veggie Tales was taken away from Bischer, he began to realize that he'd never asked God what He wanted to do with his life. He never asked God if he should start Veggie Tales, or any other endeavor. That's why the Veggie Tales empire that Vischer imagined was swept out from under him. Ask God first, Vischer, now older and wiser, stresses.

Of course, if you ask your child what God wants to do with her life, your child will inevitably ask how God will make this clear to her. There is no pat answer. He might speak to your child audibly, as he did young Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 3). He might put a thought in her head or a feeling in her heart - something that aligns with the Bible. He might speak to her through His Word, making a certain verse or passage stick with her. Or he might just put her in situations that make it obvious - or not - that she should be doing a certain thing. (At his construction job, my brother once injured the fingers on one hand, and had to have them sewn back on. A few months later, doing similar work, he nearly severed the fingers off the opposite hand. He said, "I think God is trying to tell me something." Soon after, he went into ministry.)

We just don't know how God will speak to us. Which means we have to be attentive. We have to actively listen for him, and pay attention when he's calling.

But to do that, children first need to know they should be listening. And that God will use them...if they are willing.

Apr 13, 2015

Helping Dawdlers Notice Time Pass

I've written before about helping dawdlers...That's because my daughter is the dawdler of all dawdlers. Seriously.

All the tips I previously shared worked to a certain extent, yet my dear girl is still a Dawdler Supreme. But here's a tool that's been helpful that I haven't mentioned previously: Using a timer.

No, no, I'm not talking about saying, "Okay, you have 10 minutes to brush your teeth. I'm setting the timer now. Go!"

That sometimes works for my dawdler, but often it just gets her stressed out. And if she's busy being stressed out, she's not doing whatever else she needs to do.

Instead, what I've found is more helpful is to get her started with whatever job she needs to get done, then set the timer for, say, 10 minutes - telling her that this is only to help her feel time passing. When the 10 minutes have passed, I have her evaluate what she's accomplished, if anything. Then I set the timer for another 10 minutes...and so on.

When I use this method, I no longer hear things like, "It can't possibly be time to leave yet! Only a minute has passed!" I don't believe that when my daughter says such things they are an exaggeration. I think that's how the passage of time really feels to her. We often say that our dear daughter just has a different internal clock. By using this method of noting how time passes, we are helping her to adjust her internal clock to become more inline with the rest of the world.

Is this a quick fix? Nope. But it does help her...and I think that over time this method will be a good chunk of the answer to reducing her dawdling time.

Mar 2, 2015

Thank You, God, for Dirt to Vacuum

The house was an utter mess. Toys everywhere. Dishes piled in the sink. And a filthy kitchen floor. Try as I might to teach my children to always remove their shoes before they come into the house, they rarely do, and end up tracking dirt, mud, and debris over our light-colored floors. It doesn't help that their daddy refuses to remove his shoes before he comes into the house.

So maybe you can imagine my grumpiness as I, tired from a long morning of homeschool and disobedient children, pulled out the vacuum and began sucking up the mess on the kitchen floor. I found my thoughts were grumbling, resentful, even angry. "Why can't the kids learn to remove their shoes at the door? They aren't new here - and this isn't a new rule. I'm so tired of constantly cleaning up their messes. They need to learn to clean up after themselves!" And so I became grumpier. And more resentful. And more angry.

Then POP! My thought bubble burst. God busted in and I literally stopped vacuuming, stood up straight, and thought, "Why am I grumpy and complaining? Why am I resentful and angry?"

And I began to pray: "Lord, please forgive me for my wrong thoughts and attitudes. Instead, I thank you for the dirt and mud on the kitchen floor. Because that dirt means you've blessed me with young children. Children I prayed earnestly for. One child who is a miracle, escaping death on several occasions. Another who is a miracle because he was born full term. And I am thankful because I have a husband - a man I prayed years for. I am thankful he doesn't take off his shoes! Because the dirt he tracks in reminds me he lives here with me, every day. And that he's an answered prayer.

"Thank you, God! Thank you for dirt to vacuum!"

Feb 3, 2015

An Important Role in the Household - What Your Child Needs to Know

Last weekend, my 9 year old daughter's behavior was hindering me. I can't even recall what she was doing. I just know I was utterly exhausted and trying to get a little housework done. And then it hit me. We'd never talked about her role in the household. So I set aside the dishes and cuddled up beside her.

We're in the middle of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, one of our favorite books in the series. It fit in perfectly with what I wanted to say. "Think about Almanzo [the main character in the book]. He had a very specific role in his family. What was it?"

"Chores," my daughter replied.

"Yes, but be more specific. Who was he doing chores for? Wasn't he doing chores to help his father?"

She agreed this was correct.

"What about Almanzo's sisters? What was there role in the family?" I asked.

"They work in the kitchen and stuff and help their mother," she said.

"Exactly. Their role in the family was to help their mother with her work. Now, what is your role in our family?"

She shrugged. And why wouldn't she? Nobody had ever explained to her what her role in our family is. So I clarified; her role is a helper - primarily for me, but also to help and serve others in the household. That's part of her job as a daughter in the Seleshanko household.

My daughter's face lit up. She'd never considered that she had an important role in our household - a role that really mattered. She just knew she had to do chores she didn't much like. She couldn't see the purpose behind those chose and why her involvement in them helped the whole family. Suddenly, she felt pride that she could help everyone in the family by doing very obtainable things.

I think this is something most modern day children are lacking. In Almanzo's day, children knew if they didn't perform their role for the family, it could have serious consequences. If they didn't help plant the fields, there might be no food to eat the following year. Today, children are rarely told that their role in the household is important.

As my daughter really stepped things up and not only began doing her chores more quickly and willingly, but offered to do more to help me around the house, I realized that children need to know not so much that they are Important (with a capital I) - an overstatement that's lead to a self-centered generation - but that what they do is important.

How dare I deprive her of this vital knowledge? Well, no longer.

Jan 21, 2015

How to Make a Child Safety Kit

Every once in a while, our insurance company gives us child safety kits - brochures, really, designed to give to police in case our children get lost or stolen. This is not something any parent likes to think about, and such ID kits are not something we're likely ever to need. But...if the need did arrive, we'd never forgive ourselves for not having the information handy.

So last weekend, I finally got my act together and filled them out for the first time. I didn't tell my children what the kits were for; I just told them I was going to take their fingerprints - a statement that was met with happy squeals. I jokingly called the photos I took specifically for the kits "mug shots." And the kids loved comparing their weight and height, too. A fun time was had by all, and in just a few minutes, I had a complete kit for each child.

Where to Get Child ID Kits

If you don't have a current child safety kit for each of your kids, it really is worth the little bit of time it takes to complete them. If your insurance company doesn't give them away for free, you may feel uncomfortable about ordering kits online. (You might think: "How do I know this is legit and not some weirdo collecting info on children with families?) So the FBI recommends getting kits from the National Child Identification Program - although there is a fee for kits from this source. (I do love, however, that churches can order bunches of these kits to give every child in their congregation or community.) The Polly Klaas Foundation (named after a famously abducted child) offers kits absolutely free, and is a known and legit organization.

But wherever you get your child safety kit, it should include:
  • A place to put fingerprints (along with instructions and ink).
  • A place for a current photo.
  • A place to record, periodically, your child's weight and height.
  • A place to record birth marks and other identifying features.
  • A place for recording basic contact information (such as address and phone number). 
 Some kits may even include a place for a DNA sample.

Some Other Important Safety Measures

In addition to having a child safety kit, it's an excellent idea to always have a recent, clear, headshot-style photo of each child in your purse/wallet or on your cell phone. This way, if your child does get lost, security or police have instant access to an identifying photo.

Your child should also play a part in his or her own safety. For a complete list of things you should teach every child from the time they are toddlers - with a refresher every few months, click here.

Jul 23, 2014

Teaching Children to Not Interrupt

All children need to learn to respect others. One way they can show lots of respect is by not interrupting when others are talking. I have an easy - yes easy! - and practical way to teach children how to avoid interrupting taught to me years ago by a preschool teacher.
Step 1: Explain to your child why interrupting is so disrespectful. It's best to do this when you're both rested and in a good mood - and before your child starts interrupting. Cuddle, look your child in the eye, and use a friendly tone of voice. Explain that interrupting is just like saying "Nobody else matters. I'm the only person who matters right now."

Step 2: Explain the Interrupting Rule. When your child wants to speak to you, but you are speaking to someone else, they should say nothing, but put their hand on your shoulder or, if they can't reach your shoulder, you arm. You will then place your hand over your child's as a silent way of saying, "I know you want to speak to me. Give me just a moment, please." Maintain this position; then, within in a minute or two, stop and ask your child, "Thank you for waiting, honey. What do you need?"

Step 3: Explain that if you're having an important phone conversation, one that can't be interrupted, you will warn your child before you get on the phone. In such cases, your child will have to wait until you are off the phone to speak to you - unless there is a true emergency. (Be sure to define this, because usually a child's idea of an emergency is different from an adult's. I tell my children that if someone is dying, bleeding a lot, or gets burned, that is an emergency.)

A few other tips:

* Set a good example. If you interrupt others, your children will notice and conclude that interrupting is no big deal.

* Once your kids know that interrupting is disrespectful, they will tell everyone - adults and kids - this new-found information, often in a way that others will find rude. Teach your children never to yell "I was talking first!", but to instead politely and calmly overlook the interruption. With siblings, this will be harder to accomplish, so you may need to teach your children to quietly and politely say, "I'm sorry, but I was speaking first. May I finish?"

* Don't neglect to memorize some Bible verses about the importance of respect. For example:

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'” Ephesians 6:1-3

 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10