In Chapter 6 of Parenting by the Book, John Rosemond encourages parents to be the ‘number-one’ influence in their children’s life, following Deuteronomy 6:6-7. He claims that a typical child, who goes to bed at 9 and wakes at 7, has over 5000 waking hours of which parents may spend as little as 800 hours — 1 in 8 — in one-on-one time with their child. When we were younger parents, we competed against TV, books, friends and movies for the main influence in the lives of our children.
A big influence for our children in our early years was the TV. When Nathan, our youngest was a preschooler, he really liked watching the TV show, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’ Of course the title should have been a clue for us to watch out. That show turned out to be a bad influence: We had to turn it off when Nathan started karate kicking and chopping his older sisters!
One day our 2nd grade daughter brought home a library book called, ‘Amy the Dancing Bear.’ The mystical story told the story of a daughter bear who would not go to bed, despite pleadings from her mother. Eventually, the mother bear gives up and falls asleep, much to the delight of her daughter, who keeps dancing into the night after she puts her mother to bed.
Over the past 40 years, schools have been promoting self-esteem over academic excellence and the self-control of America’s kids has taken a nose-dive. That’s according to John Rosemond, author of Parenting by the Book. John argues that a single teacher fifty years ago had no problem controlling a 1st grade class of 40 or more children while today’s first-grade teachers have their hands full with 25.
Most parents would respond by saying, ‘What! Don’t promote self esteem?” John explains that the opposite of high self-esteem is not low self-esteem — it’s humility, modesty and meekness (strength under control) — traits that parents do desire in their children.
Parents are often taught that teaching children good behavior is simply a matter of applying the right rewards and consequences. However, most parents are quickly frustrated when reward and consequences don”t always work. Most have heard the rebel cry of a 3–year old, “You are not the boss of me!” As a result, parents continue to look for the ‘right’ discipline techniques in books and from psychologists and feel very frustrated when they fail.
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John Rosemond, author of Parenting by the Book, says parents should discipline their children with rewards and consequences and gives suggestions in his book. However, he recommends that parents complement ‘reward-ship’ with ‘leader-ship’ to be successful.
What leadership principles can parents adopt to be more successful in disciplining their children? Steven Gibbs, recently shared Jesus’ leadership principles in his message, “Follow the Leader,” from his teaching series, “The Book of Mark: Follow My Lead.” Parents who apply these leadership principles will become better leaders of their children:
- Leaders invite others to a relationship. Jesus reached out to his disciples inviting them to a relationship, to follow him, to watch him and do what he does. While Jesus may have sometimes disapproved of the behavior of his disciples, he affirmed them as his disciples. Farsighted parents spend both quality and quantity time with their children, teach by example the character virtues they want their children to learn. Farsighted parents also may disapprove of their child”s behavior but always show and affirm their love for them.
- Leaders challenge others to change. When Jesus invited Peter to a relationship, he challenged Peter to change —– from a fisherman to the world-changing role of fisher of men. Farsighted parents challenge their children to reach beyond their grasp, to see the world through new perspectives, to explore their talents and interests and encourage them when they fail.
- Leaders teach with authority and act in power. When Jesus taught in the synagogue, people were amazed at the way he taught with authority. Jesus” authority came from his Father and by doing the will of his Father. Parents who are Christ followers can teach with the same authority. One dad in our group explained it this way, “I teach my children that I live under the authority of God and God has placed you under my authority.” Parents who are in ‘authority’ command and don’t demand. They don’t negotiate with their children, they tell them what they expect of them.
A leadership attitude and effective rewards and consequences provide the best discipline strategy. Monica and I found reward and consequences helpful when our children were younger. For one of our daughters, taking away her favorite Disney movie was a great motivator for good behavior. We also learned that a leadership attitude was important when rewards and consequences didn”t work. Growing up, our son was a great negotiator and liked to ask ‘why’ multiple times when Monica or I said, ‘no.’ We learned quickly that negotiating with our children didn’t work. ‘Because I said so,’ from a parent in authority is enough.
Question: What leadership principles have you found helpful when rewards and consequences don”t work? Please share your comments here.
‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it,’ from Proverbs 22:6. It’s one of the most quoted verses on child rearing.
Unfortunately, the pressure of day-to-day activity causes many parents to focus on ‘nearsighted’ accomplishments rather than farsighted character.
This article is Part 3 of a discussion of the four seasons of child rearing. The second season is the Season of Leadership and Authority. ‘You are not the boss of me!’ is frequently the reaction of children as they fight the transition to this new season that generally lasts from age 3 to 13 years. The goal of parents in this season is to change a child’s view from ‘Its my parents job to pay attention to me,’ to ‘Its my job to pay attention to my parents.’