"....Your children shall be like olive plants all around your table." Psalm 128:3

Monday, April 23, 2012

Praising the Good

It's so easy for me to become focused on what my children do wrong..

 - when my five year old forgets to make her bed - again. And I have to remind her again.

 - when my angry boys resort to punching each other, I have to become "judge and jury" to figure out who's right and who's wrong. I have to discipline them and train them in patience and love.

 - when the trash isn't taken out - again, I have to track down the guilty party, make sure he does the job, and train him toward greater responsibility.

But when the bed is made, I barely acknowledge her hard work. When no one is arguing, we manage to get more on our to-do list done. When the trash is taken out, we just put more trash in the trash can.

When things are going well, it's easy for me to forget to give thanks and commend those who are doing well. I have come to realize that I can unintentionally discourage my children when I remember to discipline them, but forget to encourage.

In 1 Peter 2:14, Peter mentions leaders that are sent by God "to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good." The same can be said for us as mothers.

It can be likened to making deposits and withdrawals in a checking account. If we just write checks and never make deposits, the checks we write will bounce. In the same way, if we just correct our children but never encourage them, our discipline efforts will fail.

Personally, I tend to "overdraw" and spot the wrong-doer before I spot the right-doer.  But my children started to change when I started to change. I started to look for what they were doing right. Instead of focusing all my attention on all their wrongdoing, I looked for opportunities to encourage them and bless them when they were doing something good. And that's when things began to change.

That's how the Lord treats me. He doesn't overlook my sin. He keeps His promises and disciplines me (often after much long-suffering and mercy on His part). But He also blesses me when, by His grace, I obey Him. The Scriptures are full of promises of blessing for those who choose to obey Him. And those promises are part of what gives me hope as I persevere in following Him.

Many of you are probably very good at encouraging your children when they do well. For those of you who are like me, I challenge you to spend the next few days catching your children doing good things.

 Conduct an "experiment": Pay attention and grab every opportunity to encourage and bless. Watch your children playing happily together, think about all the chores they do around the house, and appreciate their strong points. Take notes if you have to - I did!  :) And start blessing your children with encouragement.

For example,  words of encouragement: "I love you!" "Look how much you've improved in this area!" "You are such a blessing to me!" "Yay! I saw that! Good job!" "I've noticed that you and   _____ are getting along much better today. God is helping you to be more patient, isn't He?" "Your cheerful attitude is such an encouragement to me."

Physical gestures: A wink across the room, a big smile, a big hug, applause!

Gifts and special events: Sometimes real progress in an area of serious struggle might deserve a special blessing - a special home-baked treat, a favorite dinner, a piece of jewelry, or some other special gift...along with words of love and encouragement.

I'd love to hear about the results of your "experiment".   :)

"..do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  ~  Ephesians 6:4

Have a blessed day, friends!

linking up this week at Deep Roots at Home