I have approached my children in all different ways when it came to their fighting. I have punished with time-outs, spanked, scolded, and I have tried just throwing my hands up and letting them figure it out. And sometimes, more than I’d ever want to admit, yelled even louder then them when they’re fighting so they could hear me tell them to shut-up. All of these methods have not worked in terms of making true heart changes in my children.
Instead of control and punishments–I learned that inspiring children, using every opportunity you can as a teachable moment, do make heart changes. I had learned that when you raise children without use of control it is laying the ground work for when they are older, unlike using force for compliance, where you see immediate results. Why demand respect when you can receive it without force? Slowly but surely you will see children that respect others with love and understand repentance, true grace and forgiveness.
Here are some more detailed tips I’ve learned in raising 7 children to respect each other, apologize, and see grace. I hope they inspire you to think the next time you have to put out another fire:
- A mother should intervene to protect her children, especially the underdog, but in a calm fashion. This is not easy…but something to always pray about and work on in your life, because you can’t teach when you are tense and stressed.
- If you need to save a smaller one being bullied, do so…when they are calm, have them each explain what happened to you. Talk to them about mistreating people and how it hurts others. This is a great time to talk to them about what God says about the fighting and hurtful words. Give them examples of how others actions and/or words have hurt them in the past.
- Ultimately, I encourage the one or even both if they need, to apologize. But instead of forcing it, I tell them that they should think about it and encourage them to do so. And that the other should forgive the other. I don’t expect it to happen at that exact moment because they have to absorb what I said and hopefully, if I had succeeded in utilizing that teachable moment, they will apologize on their own time.
- Teaching your child that words hurt is important especially if your child has said hurtful things to you. I let the child know that their words were hurtful to me and how it made me feel. I then walk away and give them time to think. They always come back to me within the 1/2 hour to and hour and say they are sorry. I give them a big hug, we talk about it for a minute, and tell them of course I forgive and love them. What a wonderful, way for our children to experience grace and forgiveness, how to say they are sorry and mean it. As moms we just have to hang in there and be patient, always encourage, do not control with punishments, and they will learn about relationships in a beautiful way.
I hope you use every moment as a teachable one with your children…the rewards are beautiful.