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I was invited to read and review the book Motivate Your Child by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. If you aren't familiar with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), I recommend you check them out. At the website, you can commit to Parent the Heart of your child (nearly 1,000 people already have), listen to the weekly podcast, sign up to receive email tips, and read a great blog.
The newest release at NCBP is the book, Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. That's a long title. It's also a great book. Authors Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN have collaborated on another practical work which includes real-life conversations between parents and children or that he has had in his counseling sessions. All of the conversations in this book were realistic and very doable. I didn't once read a dialogue and think, "who talks like that?" or "do other four year olds really respond like that?"
I may not have ever mentioned that one of the reasons I did not reapply to The Schoolhouse Review Crew this year was because of my conviction to free up some time to be more intentional about discipling (and disciplining) the punks. See, I love my boys so very much and I want to be doing my best to raise godly, self-controlled, motivated children. Dave was so easy to raise (thank God, because I did it alone), I thought I was an amazing parent. My parenting skills would be like a shining beacon and all who saw my children would be amazed. Ta-Da!
And then I had Malachi.
See that child tantruming in the produce section? My kids will never do that. Oh, and look at that little cherub there, throwing a toy train at his brother. My kids... Oh. Wait. They do that.
Oh how The Lord must laugh at our human prides.
Not one of these last three has been an "easy" kid. They all have different personalities, which I expected. I did not expect the range of "issues" we'd experience parenting them. I learned, very early in this book, that children who are characterized as strong-willed actually have a lot of internal motivation. I have one child who frequently tells me, "I want what I want when I want it." Well, that kind of attitude certainly doesn't sway me, but I can see how very strongly he feels. Motivate Your Child is providing me with valuable insight and plenty of tools to place in my parenting toolbox.
I found several wonderful bible illustrations and activities smattered throughout Motivate Your Child. The first one in the book and the one I knew the boys would really love, is what Dr. Turansky refers to as "the stupid verse."
We *aren't supposed to* use that word (among others) in our home. Xav was practically giddy to read it for me several times. Sigh... There was a great conversation in the book and I took it a bit further with some thoughts I had. We have one boy who is incredibly hard on himself and every mistake makes him stupid or bad. I wanted to begin a more thorough discussion with him than just saying the usual things we say, which don't seem to help. I talked to Mal and Xav about how my whole job is to teach them. Some things they just haven't fully learned yet. We talked about babies and how little they are able to comprehend and how much they have learned in their lives and how very much they will still learn about later. We had a wonderful conversation which I hope implanted some new thoughts about themselves. Hopefully, just the first of the many heart parenting conversations we will have. MYC provided a great jumping off point to develop a real training session about something very important to us.
"Too many kids say unhelpful things in their hearts.
Parents can write the script of things that are more appropriate."
The advice in Motivate Your Child applies to all of us, every single person. So many times I read "children" and knew that I would benefit from the information myself. We've slipped into many bad habits of relating with each other in negative ways. One thing I've noticed about myself, my tone of voice is sometimes harsher than I mean for it to be, even when I'm not irritated with anyone. Habits get so deeply ingrained they are difficult to break. I'm learning all kinds of valuable tips and actual steps to take to break free from my own attitude and build new relationships with each of my children.
Motivate Your Child sounds like the title of a book to get your children to do their chores and help around the house, but it's really about relationships and getting our hearts right. Developing the heart qualities described in the book, will help us be caring, helpful, self-motivated people. The people who will be the godly leaders of the future, people who can make an impact.
By becoming self-motivated, there is no longer a need for a reward system. Children who are rewarded for good behavior and cooperation expect larger, more expensive rewards as they grow. We've often punished by taking away a toy or privilege. Usually, in our home, that means someone loses the one TV show they get each day. Often that threat gets a response, but they are angry. We're angry, too. With Motivate Your Child, I'm learning better ways. Parenting the heart means to train your child to consider the needs of others, use their time wisely, and to see what needs to be done and do it without being told.
"If you want your child to fly straight, teach them obedience.
If you want them to fly high, teach them honor."
Our new rules when asked to complete something are
- Do your best.
- Have a good attitude (happy heart).
- Make it better.
Micah told me his mother taught him that if you borrow something, you return it in better condition than when you took it. He once told me about borrowing a baking pan. It had the usual stuff baked onto it. The kind of stuff that just seems to become part of the pan. When he returned it, it was shiny again. That's a great example of doing that "one more thing."
The second part of the book is a wonderful guide to spiritual development of children. This section is also greatly encouraging to parents to help us be the main spiritual guide for our children.
"Send your child to church - spiritually feed him for a day.
Live it out at home - spiritually feed him for life."
This section covers when you encounter resistance from your children, preparing children to face the challenges of life, how do train your children when you're going solo, and many other topics. To be 100% honest, I haven't finished this half of the book. I have found myself reading, re-reading, and highlighting like a madwoman. Or at least a mom who is tired of the status quo. This mama is ready for the joy and peace we are promised in Romans 15:13.
If you're dealing with anger, rebellion, or just plain laziness, I think you will really enjoy reading this book, implementing your new heart parenting skills, and seeing the changes in your family.
Motivate Your Child is a 266 page paperback published by Thomas Nelson.
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