Monday, October 25, 2010
The scene was a familiar one. The people in the booth next to us had an undisciplined three-year-old—and the parents spent the entire evening focusing on the least important thing while ignoring the most important things.
Here is the scenario:
Child and parents sit down. Child yells to parent, “Move over, Bucko!” in a harsh, disrespectful, and loud tone.
Dad: “Are we inside or outside?”
Child, again in harsh, disrespectful tone: “Inside!”
Dad: “That’s right. So we need to use our inside voice.”
Child: “Okay, Bucko” in softer voice but still with disrespectful tone.
The entire meal was filled with a wild three year old telling his parents what to do and what he wanted in a rude, disrespectful INSIDE voice (with the parents occasionally reminding the child that they were inside and needed to use the inside voice).
The problem: Going back to our childishness vs willfulness posts from earlier this year (http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/03/day-eighty-five-introducing.html ), we see that there was a “surface” problem going on—the child speaking too loudly for inside (which is something that needs corrected and trained, but definitely not the most important thing)—the “inside voice.” And we see the big problem—disrespect and disobedience.
We call the inside voice a character issue—children are children and do childish things. They run, they jump, they shout, they giggle, they spill, they forget…and we work day in and day out to “train” them in godly character to grow out of those behaviors (some of them—many of them are, after all, cute, so we don’t want to eliminate all of them…just the unsavory ones! ).
The disobedience and disrespect are the real culprits in this scenario. They are the things that are from the heart. Calling Dad “Bucko” and answering him like he was the family dog are signs of darkness in a heart—signs that the child has not learned how important it is to respect and honor his dad, signs that he is putting himself in the position of number one (and “I will do whatever I want to do!!!”), signs that his heart has not been trained in obedience, respect, honor, and more.
The moral of this story? Train the character issues in your children as they grow up. Teach them to use an inside voice inside. Teach them not to run in church. Teach them to share with others.
But don’t let the “childishness” issues cloud the heart issues! Do not overlook the training and punishment that are needed to teach a young child to obey and honor his authorities.