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The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Proverbs 29:15
Q: What do you do about pouting?
A: Isn’t parenting challenging! Not only do we need to teach our child obedience in their actions, we also have to teach our child obedience in their heart! Well, we can’t MAKE them have an obedient heart but there are things we can do to direct them and not allow certain behaviors that encourage a disobedient heart. Pouting, no matter how subtle, is a form of disobedience. When I say ‘no’ to something my child is asking for and he/she responds with a stomp, moving away from me with that ‘look’ on their face, crossing their arms, whining, throwing themselves on the floor, or even just ‘looking naughty with their eyes’ (as it is called in our house) that is disobedience that is met with a very firm act of discipline from me because I can NOT allow that kind of behavior. When they choose to act that way, it is suddenly not about asking for something anymore, it’s now about that attitude and what they just demonstrated and I will not allow it for two reasons. First of all, that is rebelling, in their own little way, against what I just told them. Correcting that action is more important than anything else I might be doing at that moment. So, stop doing the dishes, put down the phone, shut off the vacuum, pull off the road if driving, whatever needs to be done to show your child this is unacceptable and you will not allow it to continue. Secondly, pouting (and that type of reaction) is a life-long character trait that is not God-honoring and will be a detriment to them as a grown-up if it continues. I certainly don’t want them acting that way to their teachers, bosses or spouses when they’re older!
So as a favor to them for the future and as a favor to me and all those around my children now, I see the importance of being very firm in not allowing pouting, fussing, whining, throwing fits, etc. Here is a hands-on example. My child wants a candy and I tell him we have to wait until after naptime and then he can have a candy. He then stomps his foot, crosses his arms and fusses about it. I stop what I’m doing, get down on his level, hold him by the arm and firmly say, “You are NOT to act that way. You may not stomp your foot and cross your arms because you’re mad and look naughty like that. You will be punished if that happens again. Do you understand?” Another example would be if my child is standing too close to the TV and I tell him to scoot back please. If he then whines some kind of answer complaining about my telling him to move I would come right down to him and say, “You are NOT to talk whiney and fussy to mom. When I tell you to do something, you are to obey or you will be punished. Do you understand?” These types of disciplinary actions will need to be done consistently but in doing so you will establish a pattern of what you allow in your home and the battle will soon lessen. This, like many other areas of parenting, can feel like such an overwhelming task to conquer but remember God will not give us anything we can not handle in His strength, for His glory and for our good! So march on, brave mothers! Boldly train the next generation one day at a time knowing you are bringing honor to your Heavenly Father in doing so!
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About the Author: Christa Bartsch is a stay-at-home mom who lives in the rural Midwest. She has led seminar workshops for women on marriage and parenting. She has been happily married for fifteen years and is the mother of five children. She also sings on the worship team at her church.
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch