“I’ll be there in just a minute, Mommy,” my five-year-old called when I asked her to put on her shoes and meet us at the back door.
When I entered her bedroom, I noticed her legs jutting out from under the bed. “I can’t find my other shoe,” she said. Her mismatched socks confessed they, too, had missing mates.
“Your shoe should not be under the bed, and you have plenty of matching socks,” I said impatiently. After digging through a drawer, I added, “Here, put on these socks. And hurry! You’re going to make us late for Sunday school.”
When our little sweetheart squirmed to exit, with a shoe in her hand and dust bunnies in her hair, I realized the error of my ways. The look of defeat on her typically smiling face caused me to regret my hasty words.
I hugged her and apologized. There had to be a better way.
Rushing young children to meet our time expectations is as effective as forcing a hippopotamus to enter a relay race. Those large mammals often become ornery when disturbed. In hippo-like fashion, little people may balk, cry, or pitch a temper tantrum when pressed beyond their capacity. They don’t rush well.
Have you noticed the more you try to hurry them, the more sloth-like they become? It’s as if they choose to idle or move in reverse. And even if they switched into high gear quickly, is “hurry-scurry” the lifestyle we want to model and develop?
The Bible tells us,
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6
So as parents we strive to develop godly character in our children, and that includes obedience.
A wise pastor once explained that raising children should be viewed as paving the way for their success or making the way smooth for them to learn obedience and God’s Word. We could define “paving the way” as a process of removing obstacles, providing good examples, and practicing proactive parenting in many areas, including use of time.
To avoid the last-minute-race-against-the-clock scenario (at least sometimes), let’s look at practical ways to help our children succeed. Because kiddos don’t rush well.
- Eliminate distractions by silencing the TV and other devices while you give instructions or prepare for meals or departure times.
- Refuse unreasonable excuses for tardiness but help as needed. Listen to objections, and if they are reasonable, you can adjust for next time.
- Offer warnings such as, “Dinner will be ready in ten minutes” or “We will get in the car in five minutes.” Although young children have little concept of time, they will know the set time is approaching.
- Avoid scurrying for needed items at the last minute. Designate a location for clothes and school supplies and provide a checklist if necessary. A picture-coded list allows even the youngest to participate.
Provide good examples.
- Practice punctuality and model wise time management: “We need to leave in 15 minutes. I’d better brush my teeth and put my shoes on now.”
- Plan family devotion times to illustrate the importance of learning God’s Word and obeying Him and parents.
- Have fun dramatizing a scenario when family members plan to be ready on time, and then act out a frantic scene when everyone is running late.
- Comment on and celebrate successes. Mark progress toward goals.
Practice proactive parenting.
- Ask God to provide insight into each child’s unique make-up—his temperament, talents, gifts, and interests, what is difficult and easy for him. Pray for wisdom to parent that child “in the way he should go.”
- Allow choices when possible to help children experience independence within safe limits and learn decision-making skills.
- Offer perceived choices, “Which would you like to do first—practice piano or straighten your room?”
- Incorporate family fun into each week’s calendar. Laugh and enjoy each other to build relationships.
As parents, grandparents, and caregivers who want to teach our children to use time with good attitudes in obedience, let’s remember our part, their limits, and this instruction:
“Do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
Please share insights and helpful tips from your family!
Cover photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com