Sunday, January 23, 2011

Update on 30 Day Challenge: Success! & Mama's Heart

It was a good week.

Just to catch you up,  my 30 day challenge has been to use a nice voice (no yelling) around the house.  I also gave my kids goals to work towards, too, since it is usually their disobedience that elicits the aforementioned yells.  The oldest is working on using a respectful voice (and NO eye-rolling).  The youngest is working on doing things the FIRST time we ask her to do them.  Two weeks ago (the first week of the challenge), neither one of my kids was very successful in meeting their goals and I yelled 3 times.  So, we had a good talk about what it means to start over, to start fresh with a clean chart, to repent and then really turn our behaviors around.

I told them that I was doing away with the threats because I often caught myself saying things like:

If you do that one more time, you will get an X.
Don't you want to go to Yo-Yos for our family reward?
If you do this, you'll get a smiley-face.

I (for the most part -- sometimes I just didn't have the patience to wait) stopped saying these things because I want them to learn to show respectful and positive behavior because it is simply THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  I don't want them to be so focused on the tangible reward that they fail to miss the beauty of the positive behaviors and the life that they bring to the family dynamics.  But, I also wanted to communicate grace, so I told them that if they started down the wrong road, I would say, one time, I want you to think about your behavior right now. If they turned it around, high-five for them.  If not, they got an X on their chart.  Abby (the oldest) only had one meltdown day, but in hindsight, I was glad she did because of the conversation we had the next afternoon.

During dinner the following night, I asked her to compare the two afternoons.  What was different on Thursday compared to Friday?  What did she notice about the level of fun we had?  What did she notice was different in our interactions with each other?  Which interactions did she prefer?  What was fabulous was that the dialogue centered on the relationships and not the tangible reward listed on the chart.  We were able to talk about the importance of positive interactions, understanding another's point of view, and the benefits of remaining calm even when our emotions seem to want to overrun our ability to be respectful.

I realized, through processing with Abby, that I have not always done the best job of modeling the ability  to keep those emotions in check.  I have a hard time not taking her lashing out personally, and therefore, I usually lash out in self-defense.  And I do that by yelling.  By demanding respect.  By enforcing my will upon her.  So the sad truth is, sometimes watching her stomp around, arms crossed, face red, voice raised, is like looking in the mirror.


It's amazing how introspective I can be just by asking my kids to be a little introspective, too.  Which, no matter how painful it might be now, ends up being so fruitful in the end.  Kinda feels like pruning, yet again.

I'm linking up with Erin at Mama's Heart -- a brand new meme about motherhood...just anything that is on a mama's heart.


  1. I'm laughing thinking that at least when we are in heaven we won't be pruned anymore! Your fruit is beautiful to look at...God gives grace for the truth and that is what you are being...truthful.
    Your daughters are so lucky to have you for their mommy. I know it is hard to let Him look at our yuck but to let Him have it...what He can do in you..

  2. You are doing a wonderful job as mother to your girls. And can I just say, thank God someone else's kids roll their eyes? Don't you detest that?

    I'm starting to think the entire season of parenting is about pruning them AND us at the same time. :) I was just telling my husband I've finally learned that change doesn't happen overnight. That gave me some grace because I want immediate results.

    Hang in there, you're raising great kids!!

  3. aww...Jen...don't we just need grace and to have a grace-filled journey as you all seek to grow...

    i agree with the modeling and by His Grace, I am growing in my 30 day challenge (not yelling at sweet unconditionally loving hubby:() But, it's my son...he is older and absorbs any outbursts I have...oh dear, what a sanctifying thing and just tonight, I was feeling really sick, and hubby had to go out and I got frustrated and he cried and I asked forgiveness and restated calmly what I was asking him to do...

    so, great job, and even so much greater GRACE:}

  4. oh im liking this...isaac is only 7 months but i know sooner or later we'll have to start disciplining him and doing all those things your writing about and so i love to hear from others like you who are experiencing it...i really like your plan and what your trying to do!

  5. Oh wow - it's like reading all about my life with my own kiddos right here! I am totally going to borrow this idea - we need it!

  6. I'm with you. . .too many times I find my children's reactions/actions a reflection of my own and realize that it's me who needs a stern talking to! I'm so thankful for grace and starting over;-) I found my binder a long time ago at Walmart and just "recycled" it for a new purpose. It doesn't hold construction paper type projects very well--the paper needs to be trimmed a bit. But the binder is so cute I don't mind;-) Happy organizing to you!

  7. Jen, I sure wish I had read this ten years ago! What a great idea to keep in mind when battling the tendency to yell. And I DID battle it, though like "It's Grace," I also wanted immediate results. That being said, by God's grace my boys have turned into wonderful men despite my mistakes, and we still have a warm relationship.

    From one mom to another, High Five! Thanks SO much for sharing.

  8. Sounds like everyone is making great progress to me. I bet at the end of 30 days you are going to be amazed at the progress. Kudos to you and "keep on keeping on."

    Blessings for a progressive week!

  9. I love your honest reflection here, Jen -- you are a real inspiration to me. I love the honest heart-to-heart you had with your daughter. You know, I think I miss opportunities like that far too often.

  10. Thanks for sharing what you are working on with your children! So often I see the negative aspects of myself in my girls and it pricks my heart and makes me want to become a better model of Christ in their lives.

  11. Whoa...what a timely post for me to read...I'm going to do RIGHT NOW! Thank you!!

  12. Jen, thank you so much for linking up. I loved this post as much as I did the first time.

    The linky tool has been fixed and I'll be using a new tool next week for our link up. Thank you again!!

  13. Can I get more info about your 30 day challenge? I want to do it with my kids. Thanks

  14. I think I might do something like this with my kids. Thanks for inspiring me. :)


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