21 After-School Questions to Get Your Kids Talking
By Dr. Joshua Straub (Full text here)
1. What’s one thing that really made you laugh today?
2. What was the most favorite part of your day?
3. What is one thing (subject, activity, etc.) you like/dislike about school? Tell me about that.
4. What do you like about _________ (i.e. your teacher, math, spelling, etc.)?
5. Share one thing you know now that you didn’t know when you woke up this morning.
6. Who did you play with the most at school today? What did you do together?
7. Who is someone you don’t like hanging out with? Why is that?
8. Who is someone at school (or a friend you know) who always seems to do the right thing? Tell me about him/her.
9. What is one thing you’re not looking forward to this week? How do you plan to make the most of it?
10. Is there a problem you faced today that you solved? How did you solve it?
11. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
12. Did anyone push your buttons today? Tell me about that. How did you react/respond?
13. What is one thing you want God to help you with at school this week?
14. What would you like to talk about tonight?
15. Name one thing that happened today that you’re very thankful for.
16. Is there a friend or classmate you have trouble getting along with? How can you be a better friend?
17. Who is someone (a friend at school, a teacher, sibling, etc.) you saw act with integrity today? What did they do?
18. What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with today? How did you get through it?
19. What, about school, makes you happy?
20. If you could change one thing about school, what it would be?
21. What is one thing we can do as a family after school, or on the weekend, that would brighten your day?
Your Response is Everything
New Life Ministries, excerpt from the radio show July 17,2017
Don’t be surprised when your 16, 17, 18 year old goes over a line; they are at the peak of impulsivity, their brain is under major reconstruction (it’s being flooded with dopamine amongst other things), and will continue until a person is 25 years old. And they have a sin nature.
Your response is everything! Your response can set the course for the next ten years.
You and I made mistakes when we were seventeen – start the conversation there as an attempt to be encouraging and to empathize. Say to your kids “I made this mistake when I was 17; I did this. What person hasn’t done it?” (IDENTIFY)
The goal is for the child to learn to self-correct and gain self control. Ask her/him, “What do you think the judgment should be? What punitive recourse do you come up with to prove to us that your serious about this unacceptable _____.” (REALIZE NO ONE IS PERFECT) Put more of it in her hands.
Trust is a precious thing. Once it’s broken, it’s hard to earn back. Start firmly but lovingly so you can curb the behavior and not have it linger.
Don’t appeal to a child to “be good”, as a Christian. He/she needs reasons. Have him/her articulate how this fits in with her belief system.
Don’t double down on the consequences, double the connection time. (dinner together, time alone with him/her, etc.)
Double up on character building: find things not just to help him/her stop a behavior, but find ways to build character. (Counseling? Youth group? Read a book together?)
RESOURCE: Take Your Life Back – Explore the difference between a reactive life and a responsive life.
How to Help Your Angry Child
by Ashleigh Slater (for full article, click here)
Maybe you have a child who struggles to control her temper too. If so, what have we done and continue to do when our daughter feels angry?
For us, it is a two part-process that consists of connecting and equipping. Here’s what it looks like.
First, connect with your angry child.
Why is it important to connect with an angry child first?
Connection equals relationship. Our daughter is more likely to come to me and let me help her if she has a strong relationship with me.
Not only that, but in connecting with her, I affirm that no matter how she acts, our relationship will endure. I am not going to give up on her.
You’ll notice in my opening story, that after giving her time to calm down, I immediately started the “equipping process.” Meaning, I first gave her the practical tools she can use to process anger better. While I still often ask her to calm down before I talk with her, now I attempt to connect with her before any equipping happens.
How do I strive to first connect with my angry child?
1. Empathize or say, “Me Too.”
My daughter needs to be reminded that she isn’t the only one to feel intense anger and responds poorly as a result. Sometimes I do too.
When I come alongside her and say, “Me too,” I affirm that anger is a human emotion with which many of us struggle. It isn’t an isolated issue only she faces.
“Me too” offers her hope because she hears that she isn’t alone. She doesn’t need to carry around shame over the anger she experiences.
2. Affirm unconditional love.
As I say “Me too,” I also come alongside her with the affirmation of “I love you no matter what and I always will.”
Honestly, this doesn’t mean I always feel that love in the moment. Sometimes what I feel is my own anger and frustration over the manner in which she’s expressed herself. Often, the last thing I want to do is respond with gentleness. It’s definitely not a natural, easy reaction.
However, I’ve discovered that under the anger my child displays is a sensitive and tender heart that desperately needs to hear, “Nothing you do is going to change my love for you.”
Second, equip your angry child.
It is after I take the time to purposefully connect with my daughter that I directly address her angry behavior. Here are two ways I do this.
1. Focus on how anger is expressed.
The truth is, our daughter will feel anger. We all do sometimes. Remember the “Me too” from earlier? The primary problem isn’t that she feels anger at all, it’s what she chooses to do with it.
While I do offer correction, such as, “When you’re angry, you can’t hit or call names,” I also go beyond this.
When she was younger, I instructed, “Here’s what you can do when you feel really, really upset. First, you can pray. You can say, ‘God, I’m really angry at my sister right now. Please help me not to be mean to her.’ Second, you can run to Papa or me. You can tell us you’re upset and ask us to help you calm down.”
Now that she’s older, I attempt to work with her to establish her own “Plan of Escape” when she feels angry. After she’s calmed down, I ask, “Okay, what could you have done differently? How can we implement that into a plan you can use next time you find yourself feeling this angry?”
2. Ponder God’s plan.
When our daughter gets angry, she tends to primarily lash out verbally, but sometimes if her anger is directed toward one of her sisters, she may hit or throw a toy.
While I do instruct her not to do these things, I also remind her what God made her hands and mouth for. He wants her to say kind, encouraging words to others, for example. He wants her to use her hands to offer loving hugs and affirming pats on the back.
The older she’s gotten, the more I employ probing questions rather than supplying answers for her. I want her to thoughtfully ponder what God’s plan is for the way she speaks and treats others, especially when she feels angry.
3. Encourage humility and reconciliation.
Lastly, we encourage her to humbly apologize to those affected by her anger. And, when it comes to apologies, the more specific, the better. When she fully owns her behavior, it helps drive home that what she’s done in her anger isn’t okay.
Helping my child learn to control, process, and express her anger better isn’t something I’ve mastered or do perfectly every time. However, this process of connecting and equipping has definitely made a difference.
Perhaps you too will find it helpful as you seek to do the same with a child in your life.
This post originally appeared on AshleighSlater.com and was republished with permission.
Henry Cloud — Boundaries with Kids
If you don’t read/follow/know Dr. Henry Cloud, nows the time to discover his wisdom. The excerpts below were taken from an interview with Dr. Cloud and Jim Daly, Focus on the Family, Jan 26, 2016:
Parenting is not about parenting. Parenting is always about the future.
Parenting doesn’t really occur well when we’re in panic mode…a lot of times kids will tap into our panic-stricken parts of us.
it’s not about the homework. It’s not about the room, cleaning the room up. It’s not about what she or he just said to their sibling or to you…it’s about using that moment for the maturity of the child.
You stop dealing with the moment and you start to use the moment in service of what you’re tryin’ to do. That’s a big shift in parenting.
So, if kids are hurting each other, whether toddlers or teenagers, it’s not the time to teach them a lesson.
When my girls squabble like that, I go, “Whoa! Stop! That wasn’t cool and stop it.” And say, “Now you know, that’s not okay.” …from that, you get a kind of a feeling of, are they seeing what I’m sayin’ or not? And if they say, “Gosh, you’re right; I’m sorry,” or “Okay, I’ll say it a different way,” then fine. But what you usually get at that moment is, “Well, she … ” I go, “Stop. No, she nothin’. I’m talking about you right now. What did you just do?”
“That’s not okay. Okay, do you want to say it a different way. First of all, tell me what you did that’s not okay.”
The first boundary with kids is the boundary where the parent realizes, I’m separate from them and whatever they’re going through at the moment, I’m separate and I get to make some choices of how I want to deal with this. Sometimes we might arrest one of ’em. Sometimes we might want to talk about it and there’s a lot of room in between.
When we get into problems as parents is when we’re reacting instead of proacting.
The ignore and zap parenting style, we’re sort of distant from it and we kinda let it build up, let it build up, let it build up and then we swoop in and like, “When are you gonna … !”
And one of the interesting things that’s helped me, is when the Bible says, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God,” when you learn that little verse has a lot of neuroscience behind it (Chuckling), that when you learn that when we are expressing anger to anyone, to teach them something or get them to do something, their brain is not taking it in.
When they feel threatened, they may be nodding, but they’re nodding for security reasons. They’re nodding to get you to calm down. But when you are in a connected space, a warm connected empathic space andtalking about the issue and exercising discipline or limits and talkin’ about choices and making them kind of work with it and you’re still setting the limits….You can be hard on the issue and yet, soft on the person.
If there’s certain things we do not allow in this house, I can be very hard on that…But I can say it to my child in a way that’s soft and respectful of the person and say, “You know what? I know it’s frustrating to you that you can’t get the chainsaw and redecorate the furniture, but really we’re not gonna change on that, so I’d suggest you do somethin’ else.” … If you don’t, A, B, C goes into effect.
That’s the problem, okay. He designed us to be control freaks, but He designed us to have control and be freaky about having control over one thing, ourselves—self-control. It is the fruit of the Spirit. What we do in the flesh and in the fallen nature, we abrogate self-control. I don’t want to be in control of myself. I want to control you. If I’m upset, I want youto change. I want you to do … and what we do is, we try to play God and have control over everything but ourselves.
Now what you did with your kid right there, you put him in control. You said, “Here’s what I would like. Here’s the expectations.” Now somewhere you’ve probably said, “If you don’t do it, that’s gonna mean certain things. If you do, do it, it’s gonna mean certain things.” But you stayed in control of yourself and you said, “Look, it’s up to you. You can do it or not do it. This is what I want and I’ll come back and check.”
So, now what does he have? He has autonomy. He has freedom. And what parents often don’t realize is, your goal in … for one of the goals for childrearing is to put them in control. It’s called “self-control.” They’re the only ones that can stop yelling at their sister. They’re the only ones that can do their homework. We want to build self-control.
You can’t make them do anything. What I do is, I manage the relationship, the resources, the tone, the teaching, the discipline and all of that, so I can actually do something which is incredible. I can leave the room, because they’re gonna be in control of their own behavior.
Here’s what you have control of. You don’t have control of their behavior. You have control of the house.
And you gotta realize, you know, it’s your house, right. And so, you decide this is gonna happen this way in my house and this is gonna happen this way in my house and these are certain things that aren’t allowed.
Now when Joey decides that Joey’s gonna behave in a certain way, I’m in control of the house and Joey, guess what? That’s not allowed here and when people do that, if I did what you just did, then I would get a consequence, too, right.
So, here’s the way it works. If you do that, this is the way this house works. These are the ways of this house and if you do that, certain things happen. Then Joey learns, gosh, if I sow to the Spirit, I reap life and if I sow to the flesh, then I reap all sorts of death, right and the death of my dreams and the death of my privileges, the death of a lot of stuff.
In fact, I’m being much harsher in a way than the controlling parent, because when we’re nagging and controlling and using relational consequences, nothin’ really bad is happen’ to Joey. Joey’s tunin’ you out. He or she is gettin’ detached and they’re goin’ off and they’re gonna find a different object of attachment to meet their needs…the harsher way is when they learn the realities of what their choices bring them.
Set the boundaries — you don’t make up a strategy on the battlefield. That’s not what you do. What you do it, you sit down. First of all, the generals sit down and they figure out, what’s the war we’re trying to win here? And what battles do we need to make sure we’re gonna win? And what battles are we not gonna fight? Because that becomes a very important part of any strategy, what you’re not gonna do.
5 Prayers to Daily Pray
by Angela Richter, click here for full post
1. Their Salvation – First and foremost pray for their salvation. Pray that they will come to know the Lord and serve him all the days of their life. Remember, it is never too late, NEVER! Pray every single day, even if you have adult children, that God will save them! I have seen the persistent prayers of mothers and wives that have prayed more than 20 years before God answered! HE was faithful, they never gave up, and neither should you. Prayer is powerful!
2. Their Commitment – Pray that your children will be committed to the Lord and will stay faithful to HIM. Pray for protection against rebellion, and that if they come to know Jesus at an early age that they will stay the course. The Christian life is not easy, and there will be times they will be tempted to stray-pray that they don’t. A word of caution here: Sometimes it happens-even the great pastors we know like Franklin Graham strayed, but God was faithful and used his testimony! It is not your job to save your children, only God can do that, but you can pray. It always brings peace to me to know nothing can stop me from praying.
3. Their Spouse/Future Spouse – I realize God may not call all of our children to marriage, but it is never too early to pray for the spouse God has for them. You don’t have to know who they are because God already knows. Pray for their family, their walk with Christ, their protection, and their hearts!
4. Their Calling – If we are not careful we can easily put callings on our children’s lives. We may not even realize at times we are doing it. Remember their calling is God’s job! We can educate and encourage our children in their gifts and passions but it is God’s job to call them to what they are meant to do. Professionally, in ministry, and in relationships. Don’t take over this task because if you do, it will fail your children miserably. Pray that God leads them to what HE wants them to do!
5. Their Protection – This covers many areas. Their health and well-being, as well as their protection against the enemy! Pray that evil stays away and that they have strength and wisdom to fight off temptation! Pray that God protects them with his mighty hand!
Constructive Praise, John Townsend
The art of praise
Praise is an important part of parenting. But we sometimes praise our children in ways that can actually harm them. Praise that seems positive — such as praising things that take no effort, or praising tasks that are required of our child — can cause problems. When these patterns of praise become overall trends, parents risk fostering attitudes of entitlement in their children. Consider the following suggestions for using healthier praise, praise that will contribute to building resilience and confidence in your children:
• Praise what takes effort. Rewards and praise are most effective when they focus on an achievement that took time and energy. Usually, when praise is most effective, that achievement would involve a child’s character or internal makeup. But praise for what takes no effort can be unhealthy. To repeatedly praise a little girl for being pretty puts her in a bind. What she hears is, “What gets me loved is something I can’t do much about.” She also hears, “My inside isn’t important, just my outside.”
Consider how that little girl would feel if instead she heard, “You work really hard at school.” Now what quality is receiving the praise? Her diligence, which she can do a lot about. Although looks fade over time, character will not. This girl’s character will grow and blossom and become even more beautiful her entire life.
• Praise the extraordinary. Praise should be reserved for those times when a child stretches himself beyond the norm, puts some extra effort or time into a task or exceeds expectations. It’s not about doing the minimum, the expected. As a child grows older, he’ll recognize that no one gets a party for showing up to work on time. Jesus put it this way: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ ” (Luke 17:10).
• Praise with specifics. “You’re amazing!” “You’re so smart!” “You’re so awesome!”
Our culture is awash in exaggerations that have roughly the same value as an empty calorie. Both yield insignificant benefits. I like to say that the brain has “buckets” where different information goes. Praise should always go in the correct bucket: the bucket of hard work, being kind, being honest or being vulnerable. But the brain has no appropriate bucket for nonspecific, excessive statements, and is unable to make constructive use of them.
I once praised my family this way, until I realized that this type of praise was just a shortcut. It takes little effort to speak such phrases, and I could say these things to my wife, my kids or a fence post. It didn’t really matter which. It requires effort to observe and relate to a child about a particular praiseworthy behavior or attitude — maybe a specific test or project a child succeeded at, or that extra measure of effort she put into a race or difficult musical piece.
• Avoid praising to create a special identity. Every child needs affirmation when he has done well in class, at a hobby or in a sport. That is why competition can be healthy. The message should be, “You are good at what you do.” But when the message crosses the line to, “You are a better person than others because of what you do,” or, “You deserve special treatment,” trouble results.
As a parent, the right message is, “Great job on defense in the soccer game! You worked hard with your team and your individual plays were excellent. Now go and help the coach pick up the equipment.” Top-tier executives, college students, managers and athletes all have to stand in line. Keep in mind that while your child may be better in ability, she is no better intrinsically. In the eyes of God, she is no better than anyone else, as the Lord is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
• Keep praise based on reality. One of the saddest things I see encouraging parents do is to give a child hope in an area even though no real basis exists for that hope. Buoyed by comments such as, “You can do anything you want to,” a child might spend years and all of his energy in traveling down a path that is simply wrong for him. Consider the current crop of talent competition shows, such as “American Idol” and “The Voice.” In the early rounds, there are always young people who have undoubtedly been overpraised and never gently told they have limited singing talent. The judges will be the first ones to give them a dose of reality — and that reality often proves to be devastating. It is much better for parents to encourage both dreams and hard work, while helping their child deal with reality. This difficult balance is a mark of great parenting.
How to Slow Down all the Fussing in Your Home
by Sally Clarkson, (click here for the full article)
Our whole family memorized a verse that became our training verse for our children to become peacemakers when there was a conflict.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
A friend taught me about “the peace making couch.” When her children had an argument, they were required to sit together on a couch until they could work out their argument, ask for forgiveness and pray together. This left a pattern in their lives for the process of restoring relationships.
In our home we also would:
Stop when an argument broke out.
Talk to the children involved to find out the issue.
Ask them how the verse we memorized applied to the situation.
Ask them what God would want them to do.
Stay until the argument was stopped or ask the child who kept it going to leave the room until he could gain control of his spirit. Sometimes, if the child or children were especially harsh, I would have them write the verse out and then read it to me. Then I would ask them to tell me what God’s way for this situation would be.
An Open Letter To the Boy Who Will Marry My Daughter
To the boy who will marry my daughter,
I prayed for you today as I do every day. I wondered what marvelous things God has in store for your life. I wondered what you might look like, and who you might be. I wondered when and how our paths may cross one another.
As my own children have grown in my womb, so you continue to grow in my heart.
I pray that you are cared for and loved by those who are taking the time to teach you what it means to be a young man. I ask that God grants them with wisdom and strength as they lead by example.
Read the full text at Time Warp Wife
4 Truths to Remember When You Worry About Your Child, by Rachel Wojo
Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you. I Peter 5:6-8 NIV
1. Our children belong to God.
God created our children and has given us the precious assignment of caring for the children He has given to us. But ultimately, our children are His children and God loves them even more than we can imagine. He will not fail to protect and pursue what belongs to Him.
2. God wants the best for our children even more than we do.
His plan is beyond our wildest imaginations and as the Creator of the universe, He wants what is best for every single one of his children. He longs to have a personal relationship with every human being he has created and part of this relationship is wanting what is best for them.
3. Only God can meet every need of our children.
I’m often tempted to take matters into my own hands when I shouldn’t. Only God can give my child the strength to follow through on their assignments. I can remind, assign, or set aside the time, but I can’t give my child the strength from the Lord that they need. Only He can empower them to do the God-given work He has designed uniquely for them. When we realize our human limitations, we can trust the Lord to provide their needs.
4. God can take anything and use it for the good of our children.
Bad things happen to people and as much as it hurts our hearts, bad things happen to children. But God can take even the worst of situations and use it for the good of our children. This truth provides the encouragement we need to trust God even in tough situations when our first choice would be to shield our children from the pain or suffering.
We can win over worry as parents when we hold these powerful truths close to our hearts. In order to truly Win Over Worry, we can meditate on God’s direction and promises in His Word, discovering more truth to combat the temptation to be anxious.
Win Over Worry Bible Memory Verse Cards
You can push against me as hard as you did the day you came into this world and I will do what I did then.
I will bear down and I will deliver you into the world.
I will deliver you out of yourself and your whims and wants and demands. It will likely pain us both at times.
Excerpt from: What to tell that kid who is pushing all your buttons by Lisa-Jo Baker
on For the Family (click the link to go to the full article)
Have you felt this challenge? Ever found yourself in a disagreement with your spouse while you were trying to discipline your child? If yes, you are not alone! While not exhaustive, the following are some practical ways to help you as a couple align your parenting so that you are working with, and not against, one another.
Decide to parent together – Parenting is not just a woman’s responsibility. The Bible instructs a father and mother to be actively involved in raising children (Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 6:20;Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). A lot of men think protecting their wife means locking the doors, loading their gun, and hitting the gym. If you are reading this as a dad, one of the ways you can protect your wife is by helping her carry the heavy responsibility of parenting. God commands you to spiritually lead your family. Don’t let your wife become weary by parenting alone! Share with her in the joy and struggle of raising your children.
Envision the same goal – Vision is your ability to see clearly. Many couples struggle with parental blindness. They don’t have a clear picture, goal, or desired outcome for their parenting. As a result, they might be moving in different directions. In some cases, it’s the wrong picture all together. The good news is that God’s Word doesn’t leave us in the dark. Every Christian parent should have a vision to pass on faith(fullness) to their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:4). Make sure both of you are on the same page when it comes to what you are envisioning for your children. Do you both share in the goal of raising children who, by God’s grace, will leave your home some day to love Jesus and love the world? Do you have competing visions? What is your greatest ambition for your kids? Regardless of their occupation, who do you want them to be? Write it down, together. Make it a vision you see frequently as a reminder of what God has called you to work toward together.
Learn to say NO – Many couples find friction creeping in when they are over-committed. If you don’t have clarity on your vision, you will likely say yes to a lot of opportunities. The myth that our culture is selling, and many Christians are buying, is that our kids have to be involved in everything. Busyness has become a sly and deceitful intruder to the family. While there is nothing wrong with being involved with sports or extra-curricular activities, a couple needs to learn how to protect what is most important. When you have clarity on what is most important, you will have conviction to say no to everything that is less important. Take some time as a couple and write down what is most important to you as a family. Identifying these values (God time, eating together, serving, etc.) will help you know when you should say yes, and when you should say no.
Raising kids isn’t easy. You certainly don’t want to be doing while at odds with your spouse! I love John’s words in 3 John 1:4. He writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” While he wrote these words to the church, they are fitting words for our families. May that goal and ambition align you as a couple to parent together – pulling you closer to one another, and ultimately, closer to the heart of God.
September 19 — Motherhood…it’s always an adjustment, isn’t it? Just when you get used to your child’s current stage of development, they change the rules. I often felt like I was left behind, confused, and unprepared for the next new stage of life. Somehow it seemed that, too often, the child was leading the way. How does that happen? How can I not see things coming and be prepared with logical consequences? At times I was ahead of the game, but then I realized that motherhood is one constant adjustment. I’ve tackled many adjustments, some with grace, some without, but the adjustment of a chick leaving the nest has really taken me by surprise. I am excited to see my chick take on a new journey in life, the problem is that I’m not walking beside him, and that’s hard for me. I pushed him from the nest many times, he learned to fly pretty well; now he’s left the nest for the college season. Mama Hen has been a little lonely, wandering around the nest looking laundry piles, dishes piles, shoe piles from Chick #1, and they’re not there. After a little sadness and brooding, I remembered “my list of things to do when the kids leave home”, set up my new sewing room in Chick #1’s bedroom and got busy quilting. And leaving fabric and projects on the table! It’s quite wonderful. He’ll be home in a few months, and I’ll pack up the sewing for a few weeks, but I’ll adjust…and enjoy.
April 25 –What do you do when your teenage child turns into a prickly porcupine? Hold on the best way you can! Some times he lets you close to him, other times his defenses are up and you’d better watch out…even the slightest contact can sting. This mama hen finds it hard herself in a place of backing up when she’d rather get close, of remembering that chicks are not little forever and trying out their wings is a good thing, of letting her chick make his own way because…I do want him to move out some day, for goodness sake! Oh yeah, I do want him to move out and be a successful young man, able to care for himself. That’s where I find myself today, caught between wanting to hug the prickly porcupine and standing back a little to watch him make his own way.
March 29 — Just got home from a weekend visiting a university for one of my chicks. It was wonderful to see his excitement grow through the weekend as he talked to professors, looked at housing, and registered for classes. Now’s a good time to pour on the prayer, for God’s leading and guiding in his life, for the decisions that are before him.