How do we keep perspective when all we can see are all the issues that need to be dealt with with our children.  How do we know which issue to take on, and which issue to leave for another day.  And then what happens when we multiply that by all the kids in the house! This podcast is all about intentional, relational and heart-focused parenting.  Today we are focusing on the idea of being intentional in the training of our children.  I have a significant strategy to share with you – which includes a download from the Heart Booster Library that will just make it much easier for you.

Many years ago listening to Carla Links’ Mum Notes* I heard her tell of a card system that I took on board and over the years I have tweaked it to make it my own.   It helped me keep perspective in the middle of it all – in the middle of each of my 4 kids needing help with their growing up and development.  It helped me keep my eye on the ball – I call it my Intentional Parenting Plan.

Basically, Carla had these cards that she’d write up and keep close by that gave her insight and direction as far as the issues that her kids were working on.  I wish that I had kept these cards that I wrote, put them in a scrapbook or used a notebook as it would be encouraging to see my kid’s moral growth recorded this way today.  But in the middle of busy family life, they were discarded or lost in all the paper piles that accumulated around the place!

In the Heart-focused Parenting Podcast episode #8 I talked about the need for training. Training is the proactive process of teaching our children a character trait, a practical life skill, or a more academic skill.  Training takes a child (or any of us really) from not knowing and not doing to being able to do it on our own.  Go and have a listen if you need a refresher on training our kids.

The thing that is often overlooked when we talk about training our children is that we assume it is caught up with correction and discipline. We think that we train after our kids have done something wrong.  We think it is a part of gentle parenting – we won’t get angry or give inappropriate consequences but we’ll train.  After all doesn’t discipline actually mean to train?  Well yes, it does, and yes, when our child does do the wrong thing we do need a training mindset but a key part of intentional, relational, and heart-focused parenting is to train – to teach – before they do the wrong thing, or at least before the wrong habits get entrenched in their hearts.

It is a very proactive thing.

Being a proactive parent means we see a need and we address it, or we know a developmental stage is coming, so we prepare for it.  Being proactive doesn’t mean we will never be taken by surprise – but it does mean we set to and do something about it.  

And this is where today’s strategy comes into it.

To be an intentional parent I recommend that you have monthly reviews – just you, God, and a notebook.  At this Review, you need to consider your child’s overall behaviour and plan on what you are going to focus on in the teaching and training of your child.  And today I have a printable worksheet to guide you through each question to help you create an intentional plan to help your child grow.

 

Know where your Child is at…

So you sit down with a notebook or with our Parenting Plan worksheet and you answer a few questions. Make the answers brief, and if you don’t know pause and pray and come back to it.

-1- Love Language  

Do you know how your child feels the most loved? And how well do you think you’ve been speaking love to them (in ways they feel it)?  What can you do to change this? 

Remember this whole process is prep for your parenting – your child never has to see it! Probably best they don’t see it to be honest!!

-2- Their Relationship with God

We cannot make a child respond to God though we can encourage and support them as they get to know Him. At this review time consider how your child is going in developing a relationship with Jesus.  Think about these issues, and take notes.

-3- Their Relationship with their Parents

Is their heart soft towards you?  Are they respectful?  Consider attitude and actions.  What concerns do you have in the ways they respond to you and engage with you.  

We need to consider what they are characterised by or what they do most of the time – not just focus on a one off that was slightly out of the blue.  

-4- Their Relationship with their Siblings

How are they going with each of their sibling relationships?  Anything jump out at you that is just off, that has deteriorated or is a struggle?  Write down where you think they are at, and what you think the struggles are and if any ideas of how you can help them grow and change – write it all down.

-5- Levels of Obedience or Responsibility

Are they obedient or responsible (and there is an age appropriate distinction here)? Are they improving? Or not?

-6- School, Friends, Talents, other Commitments

Take note of any other major concerns you have noticed.

-7- Circumstances

Is there anything upsetting or unsettling happening in their lives at the moment?   

Though this does not excuse behaviour it does help us understand their struggles and approach them with care and consideration.

-8- List 3 top negative behaviours or concerns

After reviewing all of these areas of concern, list the top three that you think are making a significant issue in your child’s life (or in your family life). 

-9- Choose the most important issue 

Look over these top 3 and choose one.  This is the one that you will continue to base your Intentional Parenting Plan on.  

Be assured, if those others are really an issue there will be another time to address them – if they are issues of the heart they won’t go away.  

-10- Context and Triggers

Is there a particular context or trigger where your child shows you that this is an issue that needs working on? This helps us get a big picture of where our child is at.  We want to understand our child, not just react to their behaviour.

-11- What is the Heart Issue?

What belief, value or skill do you want to teach so that they know how to make wise choices in this area?

Why is this belief, value or skill important?

These questions help us understand what we want to train – to teach – to put into their heart and help them believe, value, feel and choose.

-12- Teaching Prompts

How am I going to teach this?  What resources, stories, Bible verses, activities do I want to use to teach this to my child?  

What activity in our family life will give me the opportunity to talk about this?  

This may seem like a very teacher-like thing to do – and believe me this is not a homeschool thing – this is a process that is worth doing as a parent.  When we think about the way we can teach our children, and we fill up our own heart with understanding what we believe and value, and think about the words that communicate this to our kids – when we do that before we find our selves face to face with our child – we will be ready.  We will be able to speak into a teachable moment, because the information is a part of our own beliefs and values.  This makes it so much more powerful than reaching for a book and giving our kids a lecture.

So think about how you are going to teach these things to your children in the coming month.

Best Practice

The best practice is to review your Intentional Parenting Plan every month though the same plan, and the same issues, may be relevant in a child’s life for longer.  We need to stick at it for however long it takes till you see change in your child and another concern becomes your priority.

The beauty of this system is really in the accountability it creates for us – the mother or the parents.  When I think something through enough to write it down I am more likely to remember and act on it – be that a heart-teaching moment, or a correction, or a simple instruction.  Consistency wins more than half the battles in teaching our children anything.

A few concerns mums have had with this idea

  1. It takes a lot of time
  2. What if I have a lot of children
  3. What if something else happens that I really need to address?

 

It does take a lot of time – to start with.  The more familiar you become with this type of review on where your child is at, you’ll become much faster at making notes.  And secondly – this is just a note-taking form.  It isn’t a research paper.  So keep your answers brief.  The idea is to guide you through so you can find out what is the most important thing for you to proactively teach, encourage and guide your child in.  

If you have more than one child, then yes, this becomes more time-consuming, but alternatively, it saves you time because your children are actively growing in beliefs and choices so you have less time dealing with disruptive behaviour – in the long run.  But the real key here is that you do a review for each of your kids so you have an understanding of where things are at in your family – and then to be honest, you may decide to deal with one issue and teach everyone, or you may decide one child’s issue is going to be time-consuming and emotionally draining and so that one issue is your training focus.  And that is okay, the other issues, with the other children, will still be there.  We can’t do it all, all the time, all at the same time.  We just can’t.  This process helps you decide where your focus is going to be.  You decide how many training focuses you want to have.

And if something big happens in one of your child’s lives – that isn’t on the plan – you deal with it.  The idea of being intentional isn’t that we are onto it and are never taken by surprise by our children’s choices – the idea of being intentional is that we respond (to whatever happens) with intention.  So if a situation arises that needs correction, instruction, or guidance that is not on our plan, and it can’t wait – then of course that is what we deal with.  But maybe you need to excuse yourself for a few moments, to collect your thoughts, to pray, and to move forward with intention.

Heart-focused Action Step

I think it is pretty obvious what I’m going to encourage you to do this week – and that is doing your own Intentional Parenting Plan.  You can do it on a piece of paper – or you can download the Heart Booster Parenting Plan and have the questions as prompts right there in the worksheet.

And if you do decide to do a review, I would love to hear from you – let me know if you found it helpful.  You can contact me by using that little bubble bottom right corner of my website! 

Like I said, this process helped me stay in touch with where my kids were at, as well as giving me clarity on what to proactively teach my kids.  Yes, there will always be the reactive things we need to do, the things that redirect or correct our children’s choices – but we save so much emotional energy by being proactive.  I used to sit down on a Sunday afternoon and look at the affairs of my family – most people look at their commitments and make sure all their ducks are in a row for the coming week – but our children and their well-being is our first priority – and planning for that responsibility came first.

 

Further Reading:

How to make Training a part of your Heart-focused Parenting: Christian parents are told to train up a child in the way he should go but what does it mean to train?

Top Tip for Parenting the Heart – in any Situation: This heart-focused parenting tip will help you in any situation address what your child believes and acts on and at the same time teach them character.

How to Teach Character: Character is a life skill that teaches our kids how to respond to people and circumstances; it is a life skill that will benefit them for life.

*Carla Link’s Mom Notes from Parenting Made Practical

 

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