Teaching Kindness and Manners: My Personal Improvement Project

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Book Club Check In
Chapter 4: Sit and Plan

Last week I wrote a summary on what I thought was the most useful chapter in our book Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney.  In it was a list of evaluation questions you can ask yourself to judge how well you are doing in the main categories of life. Here’s a quick review:

Evaluation questions from chapter 4:
1. Grow in godliness: How can I make my devotions more fruitful? What is one area where I believe God is calling me to grow in godliness?
2. Love my family: What is one relationship I want to give more attention to in this season? How can I intentionally show love to this person?
3. Serve in the church: Am I using my gifts to serve in the local church? Am I serving in the most effective way I can?
4. Fellowship with Christians: Is there a relationship I need to prioritize for the purpose of fellowship? Are there relationships that are hindering my fellowship and how do they need to change?
5. Evangelize non-Christians: Who is one person I can develop a friendship with for the purpose of sharing the gospel? What would be the best way to develop the friendship?
6. Attend to my work: Am I doing the right work? What is one way I can be more effective or efficient in the work God has called me to do?

After thinking about this all week, I decided that I need to grow and be more intentional about instructing in godliness as a mother. Question number 2 is about loving your family. Raising children is really hard. It’s a lot harder than I anticipated. A couple of years ago, a small group of us ministry families were together sharing our hearts, and one of the godliest mothers I know started bawling about how hard being a mother is.

I was shocked. This woman is amazing! She is one of my motherhood role models and here she is confessing how hard it is for her too. Granted, she has more children than I do, but that moment of vulnerability really ministered to me because several years later, I hit that point of crying about how hard being a mom is – and I haven’t stopped crying. Well, not really, but it’s super hard!

The fact is, having young children is hard. There is no way around it. I have three kids that are 5 years-old and under. These little guys are so precious in their childlikeness, but with that comes many little challenges that can add up to a mountain of difficulties at times. The biggest area I’ve been convicted of that I need to teach them, is how to be loving and kind to each other. Would you believe it: this does not come naturally to them!

My Game Plan:
Last week in 2 Simple Steps To Increase Your Fruitfulness, I talked about how to make a plan – a simple plan. Here is mine for the next month.
1. Once a week, read a chapter in a parenting book that encourages me. I want to finish “Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood” by Rachel Jankovic.
2. Every day, take 5 minutes to role play with my kids scenarios that they struggle in being kind to each other. We will do this at 3 pm during snack time in the kitchen. I will give some short instructions about being kind and then we will practice acting and talking kindly to each other, pretending to be in situations that usually cause them trouble. I will try to make it fun with “props” etc.
3. Do a shout out on Facebook and ask friends what their resources on teaching kindness are.

This is a very simple plan. One of my resources for instruction are from a book, “What Every Child Should Know Along the Way: Teaching Practical Life Skills in Every Stage of Life” by Gail Martin.  She has a chapter on manners I want to utilize. Here are a couple of teaching tips from that chapter.

Mannerly Attitudes and Actions:
1. Never say anything to anyone that could hurt someone’s feelings – such as teasing, name calling, or insulting another person. (Matt. 7:12; Eph. 4:29)
2. If someone makes a mistake, or seems different than you, never laugh at or tease them; instead try to make them feel better by showing acceptance and love.
3. Frequently use words like: “Please,” “Thank You,” “You’re Welcome,” “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong,” Will you forgive me?” and “I forgive you,” Be sure you mean what you say. (Prov. 22:11)
4. Never use your fists or sarcastic, cutting comments because you are angry with someone. Learn to work out your differences with appropriate words. You may need to excuse yourself from a tense situation to cool off, and then return later to discuss the problem with the goal of resolving your differences and restoring your relationship. (Prov. 20:22, 29:11; James 1:19-20, Eph. 4:26)
5. Always speak the truth. (Prov. 15:4; 16:13; 24:26; 12:22)
6. Love and honor your mom and dad. (Eph 6:2-3)
7. Love your brothers and sisters, and be best friends – not just in private – but in public as well. (John 13:34; Rom 12:10)
8. Properly address those who are your elders with their proper titles, such as: Mr., Mrs., Miss, etc. (Rom 12:10)
9. When meeting someone for the first time, always smile, look them in the eyes, and put out your hand to shake theirs. Introduce yourself and say, “Hello, my name is _____. It’s nice to meet you.”
10. When playing games, be a “good sport”:
1. Take turns.
2. Let others be first.
3. Follow the rules.
4. When picking teams, think of the feelings of the person who may not be one of the most “popular” players.
5. Play your best for your team.
6. Don’t make fun of others who don’t play well or are just learning.
7. Keep playing your best even if you are on the losing team.
8. If you lose, always shake the hand of the winner (or give them a high-five) and say a hearty, “Congratulations!” or “Good Job!”
9. If you are a winner, say “Thank You” with humble graciousness.

Would you believe it, so many of these things need to be taught…and re-taught.  For little children, instruction is very explicit. I have to tell the kids what to say and what to do. Then we practice it.  Then we pray about it. Then, when they try it on their own, and get it right, we give lots and lots of praise.  And when they forget, we encourage, practice, and pray again. 

 

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