photo by memekode
Have you ever experienced the beauty of creating an expectation for your child, and then watching her live up to your expectation? It can be a real heart-swelling moment if done purposefully. You’re proud for both your child and yourself. It’s an effective way for developing godly character and enhancing your child’s learning at the same time.
So, if you’ve never experienced it before, how do you do it?
Explain things up front. Going out to eat with young children can be a harrowing experience. When ours were little we made sure they knew exactly (within reason) what we were doing and what behavior was expected.
“We’re going out to eat at Szechwan Garden. I want you to be very polite and sit in your seats while we’re eating our dinner.” Forewarned is forearmed, and our children never had to guess about what was going on or what we expected of them.
Include a reason. We all operate better when we know why we’re doing what we’re doing. “We show people respect by allowing them to enjoy their meal without distraction (Mommy, what’s distraction?).”
Reestablish the expected outcome. I always repeated what we wanted from them. “So I want you to be respectful of the people around us by sitting correctly in your seat while we’re eating.”
Determine the blessing for obedience. God always blesses us when we obey Him. Our children should know that we will bless them also. It doesn’t have to involve a bribe, although if it was appropriately done a bribe wasn’t above something we’d do. “If you do this it will make Daddy and I very pleased.”
Accept the fact that this will have to be done repetitively. Children don’t miraculously get it the first time around. It would make parenting so much easier if they did. Parenting is a process. Christian parenting is a journey. It will require frequent stops and starts.
Did following this process work 100% of the time? Not even close. But it worked more often than not. And we applied it to every aspect of our training.
“When our guests arrive we want to make them feel welcome. I want you to say hello and ask them if you can get them anything to drink.”
“When the music is playing you can sing and dance if you want, but when the pastor starts speaking it’s time to sit quietly.”
“Slouching when the pastor is speaking is a sign of disrespect. I want you to sit up while he’s speaking.”
“Reading your Bible every day will help you get to know God better and draw closer to Him. I want you to spend a few minutes every morning reading from your Bible.”
For expectations that were met we gave profuse but genuine praise to the child, the blessing that was promised to him. If the child struggled with obeying (how do you teach a young child that a whisper isn’t a softer way of talking loudly?) we gave gentle admonishment and encouraged him to do better next time.
Practice the art of expectant parenting when you’re teaching your child godly character. It’s a proactive and effective method of training your child in the way he should go.