Encourage Your Child

Blog Pic-MeEncourage Your Child

How many of you remember saying to yourself way back when you were knee-high to a wolverine (not that you ever go that close to measure) that you would never do this or that to your children when you became a parent?  Statements like this may have been made in the moments after a butt whipping or chastisement as we say in today’s vernacular.  You may have felt wronged for the punishment you received, and of course because you were just a child your ability to see the big picture extended only as far as your toy box or TV!  The reasons we were punished never made sense since all we were doing was having fun…true, the cat or neighbors dog paid the price but we’re not talking about that right now!

Most of the time after we were disciplined (whupped as we say in my house) and went to sleep, a normal side effect of a good whupping, we would be fine and all was forgotten.  It was again time to play.  Who had time to remember what we were disciplined for.  Day light was burning!  There were girls’ hair waiting to be pulled!!!

But there are also those times when the discipline can go too far, not just in terms of physical abuse, at least not in my case, but in terms of the emotional pain inflicted.  Punishing or disciplining in the heat of anger is always a bad idea.  For one, the risk of doing actual physical harm increases.  Two, when words are spoken in anger they can be just as harmful, hurtful, and painful as the physical discipline.  It is usually the words that are remembered the most and have the longest effect on a young mind.

So perhaps a change in tactics is called for.  I know, sometimes it’s hard to keep your temper in check and this kettle will refrain from describing the pot as black in color!  And yes, I understand that stress can play a huge role in how we react to different things.  When our children get in trouble we tend to fall back on what we experienced growing up.  We do what we saw.  We say what we heard and it’s almost instinctive.  We may even know subconsciously that there is a better way but our first reaction is normally what we go with unless we train ourselves to do differently.

I remember saying to myself after receiving my punishment that I wouldn’t do my kids this way.  I would treat them differently.  I would do this or that better.  I was not concerned with the purpose behind the discipline or the love that spurred it.  At the time I couldn’t see that my mother’s efforts were keeping me out of jail and an early grave.  I was a selfish child and only understood my point of view and my immediate goals.

When I became a father by the grace of God, I started disciplining the same way I was.  I was going to put the fear of God into my children.  I was not going to spare the rod and spoil them.  I didn’t know that there was another way, even though I promised myself growing up that I would do things differently.  Then it dawned on me…my greatest improvements, my best achievements, always occurred after my mother lavished praise and encouragement on me.  I always did better when I knew my dad was in the stands watching me play football and cheering me on.  I always rose to the occasion when I needed to take tests because I knew it would make my mother smile to see my name on the dean’s list!  Encouragement and not fear was the difference.

I still believe there is a place for stern discipline, but I have also come to understand that encouraging your child can be just as effective as the rod of correction.  I wouldn’t say throw away the rod, but I would say we need to balance its use with the following ratio: 1:7, that is, for every application or occurrence of the rod pour on seven doses of encouragement or praise.  As a rule, if you can’t think of seven things to praise your child for, then put the rod away as the instrument of discipline and find another way.

You can encourage your child to do better, be better and aspire to greater things.  Speak encouragement into their ears, into their spirit, into their whole lives and you will change them for the better.  Your words have power, use this power for good and not evil.

Control Your Anger

Control your anger 5Control Your Anger

Once the words leave our mouth…well, it’s just too late.  What’s said is said and you can’t, contrary to popular belief, take it back.  You might wish you could but it’s not possible.  The damage that can be done with unguarded lips and a loose tongue can be devastating!  Indeed, loose lips sink ships is a truism if ever there was one!

I know I’m not the only one who has spoken in anger and caused hurt to someone else.  It happens every day and in almost every setting from the Church to the office space.  And yes, people get hurt in the church every Sunday!!  The tongue is a powerful weapon and if wielded in anger it can destroy people’s lives.  The tongue is such a small thing too.  For most of the day, unless you’re a yapper, the tongue is hidden from view.  You never see it except when you’re blessing or cursing something or someone!!  Yet look at the damage that the tongue can inflict.  Marriages end, companies go bankrupt, and countries go to war all over the spoken word.  Failure to control your anger could be the number one health issue affecting your life.

I firmly believe what the Bible teaches about our words.  Our words, when spoken in faith, have creative ability and power.  We can literally speak things into existence and we often do without thinking.  If I wake up in the morning and curse the day because I’m tired and don’t want to go to work, guess what my day is going to look like?  If I say to myself that I will never get this job right or this relationship right or articulate any other negative statement about my present reality that is exactly what I am going to get!  My words are setting up an environment of failure when I seed the 4th dimension with negativity.  Remember that old commercial that said “you are what you eat”?  Well, in many ways you are what you say too!

My words, spoken carelessly over my own life, provide the material for the spirit or SpiritControl your anger 3 to work with; therefore, I always try to speak in the affirmative.  This is how I control my Anger.  I want to declare good things for my life and for that of my family.  But, if I get angry and give my tongue full license to act, I am sabotaging myself or someone else.  I believe this is why the Bible teaches us to be angry but don’t sin and not to let the sun go down on our wrath (Eph 4:26-27).  The sin comes from the harm we do to others when we speak out and fail to control our anger.  We should always strive to repair whatever hurt our words cause and do so before the day ends.

But boy is this hard or what!  I won’t go full spectrum bible here but we have to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves.  We have to guard our mouths and watch what we say even when our tempers get the best of us.  You could cripple someone’s dream by speaking poisonous words over their life.  Anger I believe is a mechanism for corruption.  When I say that what I mean is that anger, while it is a very human emotion, makes it easier to destroy.  Anger makes it so much easier to dish out the baser elements of our nature.  It provides a cloak for actions that are designed to maim or destroy.  Anger is not a creative gift but one of destruction.

So if we are able to control our tongues we are able to control a great deal of power.  The key is expression.  If I get angry, my immediate task is to pause, breath, and reflect.  Controlling anger is about two things in my opinion: Timing and connection.  If you release your anger as soon as that spark ignites, you will lose the benefit of timing and spit something out that will create havoc.  But if you slow down you allow enough time and space to give the second controlling component a chance to become active.  That second component is a living connection.  What I mean by this is your connection to God’s Spirit.  God will give you perfect peace if your mind and thoughts are focused on Him (Isa 26:2-4)

Control your anger 4So perhaps the ultimate goal is to work on forming a habit which incorporates those two components.  Try to take a moment each morning to actively think on good things, to focus on His peace and relax.  On your lunch breaks, actively pause and dedicate some time to focus on your breathing, to slowing down, to listening for God’s voice in the peace that follows.  Actively think about counting out to ten as an exercise when your hand first hits the door leaving or arriving to your home.  Make this a practice every morning or evening for 21 days and controlling your anger will be a natural habit!!