What Lies Beneath: Getting to the Heart of Behavior, Part II
- Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Dealing with Tattling
Emily and Michael are playing in Emily's room. Suddenly, Emily comes charging down the hall. Glancing back at Michael, who is hot on her trail, she yells, "I'm tellin' momma!"
"What is it, honey?" Her mother kindly asks through gritted teeth. After all, nothing is more annoying than a tattletale, especially one who has been at it all day. "Well," the little informer begins, "you said that we aren't allowed to jump on our beds." Emily pauses long enough to fold her arms and throw a sassy grin at her brother. "And guess who's been jumping?"
Michael begins to defend himself, mumbling something about a bug on the ceiling. They both begin to argue. "Tattle-tale! Tattle-tale!" yells Michael. "There wasn't a bug on the ceiling and you know it! Liar, liar, pants on fire!" cries Emily.
Sound familiar? What a golden opportunity to use the Scriptures to teach Emily why tattling is wrong and how she could have handled the situation in a way that pleases God!
Probe her heart. "Honey, could it be that you are delighting in getting your brother in trouble?" If she ponders that question and seems to be leaning toward the "yes" end of it, then move on to the reproof.
Penetrate her heart. "Emily, if you are trying to get your brother in trouble, you will get in trouble. God's Word says, 'Whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.'" (Proverbs 17:5b)
Provide a means of escape. "God says that we are to 'spur one another on towards love and good deeds.' (Hebrews 10:24) Rather than tattling, what could you have said to encourage your brother?" Have her think through this and verbalize how she could have encouraged her brother to do what is right. If this is a new concept for your child, you may have to make some suggestions such as: "Mom says we aren't supposed to jump on the bed. I don't want you to get in trouble, Michael, so please get down."
Practice by role-playing. This is the most important step. Have the children go back to the scene of the crime, the bedroom. Have them re-enact the whole ordeal, guiding them through the biblical way to handle it. First, allow Michael to jump on the bed (or pretend to jump). Then require Emily to encourage her brother to do what is right. Require Michael to respond with an affirmative reply.
Dealing with Disobedience
Three-year old Sam is playing with his blocks. When he is called to come to you, he ignores your instructions and continues to play. Here's another opportunity to use the Scriptures to teach little Sam why disobeying is wrong and how he could have responded in a way that pleases God!
Probe his heart. Giving Sam your full attention, kneel down, make eye-to-eye contact and say, "Sam, I instructed you to come to me. Did you obey or disobey?" Wait for him to verbally acknowledge the wrong he has done. Then ask him, "Sweetheart, how did you disobey?" Requiring him to identify exactly how he has disobeyed helps him to take ownership of the sin in his heart.
Penetrate his heart. "Sam, God's Word says, 'Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.' (Colossians 3:20) When you disobey me, you are disobeying God and it will not go well with you. (Ephesians 6:1-3) Honey, I love you too much to allow you to disobey."
Provide a means of escape. "How does God want you to obey?" Small children can learn to answer this question by saying, "All the way, right away, and with a joyful heart." A helpful tool is to teach children that obedience is complete, instant, and joyful.
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