Archive for March 2010

Are you aware of your feelings?

Crissy Bontrager and I just attended a parenting conference in Newark by the National Center for Biblical Parenting. One facet that came out of the conference was a conversation about how to help emerging adolescents deal with their feelings.  According to Dr. Richard Berry’s book Angry Kids, most children benefit from intentional training on expressing how they feel.

Crissy shared with me how an emotion chart can help train our children to identify what they are feeling. How amazing would it be if we could teach our children how to assess their feelings, be able to name them and share them? Dr. Berry states that “an important step in dealing with anger is identifying the feelings behind it.” Psychologist Neil Clark Warren believes that anger is not a primary emotion but an automatic response to other emotions. Our children can gain problem-solving abilities and character development skills by being trained to identify these underlying emotions.

Once we can talk about and identify feelings, we are in a better place to develop a rational plan for dealing with the emotions. Helping my children manage their feelings has helped me manage my own. It has helped me take steps to communicate more effectively with my husband, my friends and my coworkers. It is always amazing to me how these small intentional steps to understand myself and others lead me right back to who God created me to be. In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul writes about how Christ allows us to understand who were were, who we are and who were are becoming. Praise God we are not left alone to wander in our emotions. We have a God who created us and promises to recreate us daily if we are willing to follow him.

Parenting Tip: Post emotion charts in your home. Talk about how name how you are feeling. This can begin with children as young as age two. You can find an example of a chart we use in Kids Community here and find charts for purchase here.

Family project: Young children can color or create their own emotion chart as an art project. Adolescent children may want to create a unique family feeling chart with emoticons to use on their phones and send through email. Adolescent’s may be more willing to text or email their feelings to parents rather than talk about them face to face.

Resources We Like: The Angry Teenager by William Lee Carter, Angry Kids by Dr. Richard L Berry, The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo, and Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande

Website We Like: www.peacemaker.net

Crissy and Brian Bontrager: Under God’s Umbrella

Under God’s Umbrella

Recently I sat in on the Parent Equipping class for 3 year olds. My children are currently 7 and 10; I was there simply to support my friend as she led the class. The topic of the class was  How to move beyond behavior modification to Godly Discipline. As the class began I realized I had become a little neglectful in the type of discipline I give my children. I was in need of a refresher in using God’s word and being consistent with discipline.

During the class the concept of The Circle of Blessing from the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart was shared. This concept comes from   Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV):

Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother –which is the first commandment—that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy a long life on the earth.

The Circle of Blessing is the idea that while obeying and honoring one’s parents, the child remains in the circle. The circle represents a place of safety and protection. However, if one steps out of the circle of blessing and chooses to disobey, the child is no longer in the safety of the circle.

This concept is not new for me. I have attended a couple Shepherding a Child’s Heart seminars, have read the book several times, and the first Bible verse my kids memorized was Ephesians 6:1. I realized during this class that as my children have gotten older I have stepped away from using this concept.  Discipline with my older son (age 10) has started taking on a different look; however, my younger son (age 7) can be a handful and I decided to reintroduce the Circle of Blessing into our family discipline strategy.

We talked about the Circle of Blessing as a family at dinner; I explained what it meant and even drew a picture, but my 7 year old just didn’t get it. So, I used the example of an umbrella. I asked him, “Why do we use an umbrella?” He replied with an eye roll, “So we don’t get wet in the rain.”  Then I asked, “What happens if we step out from under the umbrella?” He replied with another eye roll, “We get wet.” I then explained to him that the Circle of Blessing is like the umbrella: as long as we are under the umbrella (or inside the circle) we stay protected. The umbrella protects us from the rain while the Circle of Blessing protects us from the dangers of disobeying. Finally, he got it.

We have gotten back into the practice of reminding our children of the Circle of Blessing. I will often ask them this question: “Where do you want to be standing–in the rain or under God’s umbrella?” Discipline keeps our children safe and teaches them life lessons. The Circle of Blessing and living under God’s umbrella can help us teach our children the importance of obeying.

Parenting Resources:   Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp  Wise Words for Moms, by Ginger Plowman

Parenting Tip: With the coming of spring, use Crissy’s illustration as a family object lesson. Get a little wet together to bring home the idea as choosing to be under God’s umbrella.