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By Maureen Monfore, www.ChildwiseChat.com
There are few parents who would argue that our children are
unique individuals. They seem to be born with personality traits that make them
who they are. One child may be more social than his sibling while one child may
be naturally better in sports.
These two examples (social and sports) are somewhat benign
characteristics that don’t require too much of our attention. But there are
certainly other personality traits that require direct teaching.
In my family, we joke that some of us were born with a “lazy
gene.” If given the option to work hard or not work at all, those born with the
lazy gene would certainly do the latter. I can already see that my oldest,
William, was not born with the lazy gene. He doesn’t exactly jump to do chores,
but he does them pretty thoroughly and willingly when asked. Lucas, on the
other hand, has lazy tendencies.
I realize that it’s important for me to not only recognize
this difference in my kids, but also teach and train them differently because
of it. I can also take the opportunity to look ahead a few years and see how
Lucas’ laziness will affect him later in life. A trait like laziness can
certainly carry over to many areas of life including school, sports, and even
holding a job as an adult.
The other great thing about this is that it’s so empowering.
Even though laziness appears to be a family trait (since several family members
have it), I don’t need to feel resigned to his laziness. I can train it out of
My kids are also very different when it comes to the foods
they will eat. William is a very healthy eater. From a very young age, he would
eat anything we put in front of him and does so happily. However, Lucas is a
picky eater. If given the choice, he’d always choose a burger and fries.
I know some parents with picky eaters are simply resigned to
the fact. They will feed their children what they seem willing to eat, partly
in fear that the child won’t eat anything at all. I have never taken this
approach with Lucas. I simply will not make a separate meal if he won’t eat
what we’re having, nor will I make meals that are full of his favorites. He
needs to learn to eat vegetables, even if he doesn’t particularly like them.
His picky eating has also given me the opportunity to teach
my kids about nutrition. Both boys know that eating burgers and fries all their
lives will not allow them to grow into strong and healthy adults. They know
that such eating habits can cause heart disease. I think teaching them about
nutrition takes our picky eating issues outside the realm of simple obedience. It’s
important that he obey me when it comes to eating a healthy meal, but it’s also
easier for him to obey when he knows that there are reasons I require it.
While we seek to teach to our kids’ character traits, it’s
also important to look for the traits that aren’t as obvious. It may sound like
I’m picking on Lucas here, but that’s only because his negative traits are hard
to miss. William certainly has negative traits that I need to train. As a
matter of fact, he tends to be a little OCD when cleaning up. He cannot put a
Lego build away until every last piece is in exactly the right place. Such
diligence can be a trait, but it can also be debilitating. As you can imagine,
it takes him quite a while to clean up.
And on the other hand, part of teaching to our kids’
character traits involves praising what they do well. Despite his laziness and
picky eating, Lucas is very obedient. And despite William’s diligence, he has a
harder time with obedience. (Part of this is due to his auditory processing
difficulties, but it is a concern nonetheless.)
So the next time you’re frustrated with a behavior, think of
it as an opportunity for some parental training or teaching. We are not
resigned to live with our kids’ bad behaviors, nor should we blame our kids. As
parents, it’s our job to teach them. And just as we would focus on math with a
child who’s struggling with the subject, we should teach and train our kids in
the values and behaviors that they struggle with the most.
Maureen Monfore is a mother of two
boys, a freelance writer, and the author of ChildwiseChat.com and the e-book, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience. A loyal follower of the
teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching
children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral
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