Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Kids, conscience, and the forgiveness of Christ April 12, 2011

Filed under: Communication and speech,Correction,Prayer,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:02 pm

Our 5-year old seems to have begun a new phase: the apparent growth of his conscience. In recent weeks he’s become uncharacteristically concerned about his misbehavior, even to the point of self-condemnation. It’s nothing we’ve ever seen in him before.

Example: he and his 3-year old sister squabble over a toy. He grabs for it, yells at her, and pushes her roughly. I intervene and correct him, and – when he throws himself on the floor in protest over the unfairness of it all – send him to his room for a minute to cool off. When I meet him there he is near tears: “I’m always doing wrong things. I do the most wrong things of anyone in the world!”

The first few times he expressed these types of feelings, I told him that we all do wrong things, explained temptation, and said one key is to pray to God for strength to do something different just as he’s about to sin. “God’s the one who gives us the strength not to do wrong things; He helps us and gives us self-control,” I told him. He accepted this; we prayed together. Similar scenes of him coming undone over his wrong actions occurred. Typically during the misbehavior phase he’d be defiant and naughty; it wasn’t till afterwards that he’d morosely express his sense that he was a boy filled with wrong-doing. (more…)


Yes, no, or neither May 2, 2010

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Communication and speech,Correction,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:47 pm

Y’know how women have a reputation for not saying what they mean- saying yes when they mean no, and no when they mean yes?  This has been a source of conflict in countless marriages since the first one in Eden.  Husband asks wife if she’s OK with him goes out with his buddies on Saturday; she says yes — while hinting that she’s annoyed and/or inwardly seething because his doing so disrupts all her hopes and wishes for the weekend.  Etc.

I have other communication problems and sins, but generally speaking, this problem isn’t a biggie for me.  I’m pretty good at being honest about my needs and at speaking up about my feelings.  That’s why it’s been so strange for me to observe this tendency in an unlikely place: my 2-year old daughter.  When she disobeys or is defiant, it comes out in the most passive-aggressive way.  It started shortly after she turned 2… she’d say the right words in a given situation, like “Thank you Mommy,” but she’d yell them rudely at me.  Letter of the law, yes, but spirit of the law – no way.  Each time I’d work with her, outlasting her, to repeat the phrases till the tone and words matched.  But I began to see the same type of thing cropping up everywhere.  Her way of demonstrating to me that she would not accept my authority was by manipulating the situation.  She’d comply outwardly, but not fully – and certainly not at heart level(more…)


I love iTeaching April 26, 2010

Filed under: Bible,Communication and speech,Culture,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:55 am

Among the “top five items I love:” my iPod.  But not for the reason you might think.  Sure, I like my music and enjoy my playlists… But the real gold for me is the podcasts. Early in 2007 I started listening to sermons regularly, and it’s one of the best things habits I’ve ever picked up.  Particularly because I’m an audial learner, it’s hard to describe how much knowledge and wisdom I’ve gleaned through listening regularly to teaching this way. It’s been a lifeline.

In my mind, teaching-via-iPod seems well suited to the life as a mother of young ones – who get short, often unpredictable spurts of time here and there that might be put to intellectual use.  I listen primarily while I’m washing up the dishes as my husband’s getting the kids into their PJ’s. Sometimes when I’m doing housekeeping work by myself (not too often) or exercising.  Occasionally when I’m alone in the car for a stretch – picking someone up from the airport or running errands solo.  Redeeming the time, whenever possible, by plugging my brain into the teaching of God’s word, refreshing me and providing direction all in one go.  Load ’em on; listen; unload.  Podcasts refresh where you last stop them, so when I stop halfway through, I can pick up right where I left off next time.  It’s one of my favorite things about modern technology. (My “pro” column in this arena is frankly rather short, so I’m glad to be able to be able to pony up a positive that I can heartily endorse.) (more…)


Helping kids learn to rely on God April 14, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Communication and speech,Fear — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:18 pm

Lately our 4-year old has been having the occasional bad dream, and the other day he told me he’s afraid of the dark because something unseen – “wolves or bad guys” – could come for him.  He made the comment in passing; his fear is nothing debilitating – easily assuaged by his two nightlights- and doesn’t interfere with his night sleep.  Fear of the dark seems to me to be, at some level, a rite of passage that most every young child goes through at some stage.  The next part of the conversation was most important to me:

Me: “You know what you can do that helps the most if you’re ever afraid at night, don’t you?”

Him: “Yes, pray to God. But I don’t do that.”

Me: “Why not?”

Him: “Because I think I should be able to do it by myself. I don’t need God to help me.”

Here we go, I thought to myself.  He’s four years old and yet a perfect specimen of one of the most monumental human struggles: reliance on self instead of reliance on God.  “Of course God could help me,” we think. “Of course I could ask him. But I should able to do take care of this sort of thing on my own. God’s a last resort (or for the weak).”  How many grown men and women has Satan taken down with that lie?  Evidently it’s not taught but bred right into our hearts… it comes with the territory of being human.  It’s part of the curse.  As is the enormous rift between knowing what we could (or should) do and actually doing it.  Not the same at all. (more…)


Injecting ideas for constructive conversation March 4, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Communication and speech — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:31 pm

A few months ago my son developed a bad case of the rude sillies; I posted about how his silliness went from being  intermittent and cute to frequent, obnoxious, and habitual. He was developing a foolishness bug.  Happily, the problem has abated almost entirely through a combination of my firmness and habit-breaking efforts and his new lack of exposure to preschool peers whose silliness was excessive.

In working to diminish his rude silliness, I played around with several strategies.  One of the best was to lead by example.  When he kicked off a bout of silliness, forbidding the behavior often didn’t work well.  This was partly because the lines were blurry: often it would start as acceptable fun like singing a nursery rhyme (great!) and convert part-way through to rude showiness that became wild and defiant.  It was also because, once fullscale sillines was underway, it was difficult to stop – especially once my two-year old daughter had been pulled into the behavior too. (more…)


Silliness and foolishness: the line between January 9, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Communication and speech — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:07 am

Silliness.  It’s what kids are all about, right?  It’s what makes them kids – giggling, goofiness, made-up words and songs. 

True. Recently though I was faced with a new habit of over-the-top silliness from my four-year-old that prompted some serious reflection.  Here’s what happened: the normal four-year-old silliness that was routine for my son suddenly started escalating.  It went from being intermittent, genuinely cute (most of the time), and short-lived to suddenly being frequent and obnoxious.  I deduced that one or several children in his preschool class had pretty high silliness quotients and he had absorbed this behavior and begun to find it funny and entertaining. 

The first day or two of elevated silliness, I found myself annoyed and a bit caught of guard.  Why was my son behaving in such an irksome way?  He wasn’t doing anything wrong exactly,  just bouncing around and saying random nonsensical syllables in a showy manner.  Whenever there was a quiet moment he’d start in. Eventually I said to him: “There’s silly fun and there’s silly rude.  Silly fun is fine but silly rude is not.  And you are being silly rude.  Do you understand?”  He did. (more…)


Grown-up interactions, nomenclature, and respect December 28, 2009

Filed under: Behaviors,Books,Communication and speech,Culture — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:09 pm

One topic that didn’t make my last post on manners is interactions between kids and adults. This issue is, to society’s detriment, seldom discussed among parents or in parenting books… so I was pleasantly surprised, when my book club recently read Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, to find author Jill Rigby bold enough to address the issue. “Don’t allow your children to call adults by their first names,” she writes. “You need to establish the boundary between the adult and the child.”

There are two separate but related parenting issues here.  One: considering child-adult interactions and training kids toward established goals for interacting with grown-ups (beyond kids’ inner circle of grandma, uncles, etc).  Two: figuring out nomenclature.  How do you want your kids to address adults?  The options are basically: a) first names; b) Mr and Mrs First Name, c) Mr and Mrs Last Name, or d) none of the above.  Option d, “none of the above,”  happens with some frequency as one real life recent example illustrates.  A fellow parent attendee at a four-year-old birthday was thanking the host with his daughter. “Say thank you to Cody’s mom,” he told her.  The child duly thanked her – but didn’t add her name.  How could she?  Saying, “Thank you, Cody’s mom” wouldn’t have worked.  This dad had, on the first issue, evidently not considered how he wanted his child to interact with adults and, on the second issue, landed on option d – no names for grown-ups.  (more…)