Parents, what lies behind the behavior?

Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs a human being is asked to do and few, if any, receive any training. We must take it very seriously.

The ability to think clearly under stress is one of the greatest tools a parent can possess. We must maintain rational thought so we can make proper decisions. Otherwise, we’ll just move from crisis to crisis and miss the teaching part of parenting.

“Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV).

In these few words, we see great wisdom.

  • First, we must have the requisite knowledge. Training involves planning and preparation.
  • Second, we must know the right physical, emotional and spiritual path to take.

Combining these two facts with the admonition to think clearly, we need to examine an important aspect of parenting.

Misbehavior is a symptom, not the problem. Read that carefully.

When children misbehave we need to keep our wits and remember to train and teach. As humans, all behavior comes from somewhere and when we identify that source, we can usually solve the problem or fill the need.

Children are immature by definition. Hopefully the adults in charge of them are not. Misbehavior requires consequences but we must be wise in inflicting them. The greater issue is not to fix the moment but to teach the child.

Address the issue through appropriate punishment and take the following steps.

  • Reinforce unconditional love. They are separate from their actions.
  • Dialogue about their behavior. They’re either feeling disrespected, unfairly treated or it’s a sign of unknown stresses in their life.
  • Care enough to actively listen.
  • Pray with and for them, if possible.

Do the extra work to discover their motivations. Otherwise, we’re like firefighters who spend all our time fighting fires while refusing to catch the arsonist.

Be proactive by choosing to parent for the future rather than merely removing the present annoyance. The latter is much easier, but it won’t produce the children we really want.

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