One of the lessons that seems to be most difficult for my bigger children is understanding that they need to obey in the little things before we can move on to other (often good) things they feel like doing in the moment.
The other morning was a good example: Buggle had an increasingly bad attitude towards his work as it wasn’t coming together as quickly and easily as he had expected. After several reminders to control himself and not become frustrated and angry with his work. I sent him to lie in his bed quietly and take a break. He was too frustrated to want to leave the work he had, and didn’t feel like obeying. He did go to his bed, but an hour or so later he still has not managed to be quiet for more than a minute. He keeps saying that he is ready to do his schoolwork, but I know that until he is ready to yield obediently to my instructions to be quiet, coming back to school will only result in more attitude and frustration.
This is one of those places where my patience is tried. I have many things to do each day and maintaining a calm voice while firmly applying consequences takes time and energy!
There are not many ways to speed up the process of a child choosing to exercise self-control and choose to have a good attitude or work at something they don’t really want to do. And in a way I don’t really want to force them as much as have them choose to exercise the self control I know they have.
What this often means is that I spend a good portion of my time waiting on children to make wise choices. Although our days need to proceed on a routine in order to accomplish everything in the day’s plan, I have found that it is better to call a halt to a particular child’s day until the attitude has improved and obedience and self control have been chosen than to try to push through against the heart issue.
Sometimes this has meant that we sit down for a meal without the child who is pitching a fit or dawdling over a job. Sometimes it has meant that a child has been in bed working on getting their attitude together while friends are visiting. Sometimes everyone is effected when someone’s attitude means that we have to stay home from an anticipated event. These things make an impression and as time goes on the children are more and more able to stop and regulate their own behavior and attitudes. I often don’t see the progress from one day to another but when I look back over months or weeks I am able to say ” So and So had trouble with that, but they pulled themselves together much more quickly than they could have a six months ago.”
And that I think is the point. I won’t always be around to stop them and ask them to control themselves and the sooner they are able to stop themselves and choose obedience and self control the sooner they will be ready for the responsibilities involved in managing their own lives!