T.I.M.E. OUT, not Time-Out. Dealing with the HEART of Your Child.
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
This blog post coincides with this podcast episode. T.I.M.E., not Time-Out. Dealing with the HEART of Your Child. Lying (pt 2), Podcast Episode 12. Practically Speaking MOM: Intentional Mom, Strong Family.
Intentional MomFriend, I know how you’re feeling. It’s a mix of frustration, desperation, and disappointment that you are still dealing with this character issue in your child even though you feel like you’ve dealt with it a hundred times!
With heart issues in our kids, there's something you need to know- there aren't any quick fixes. Hearts require some significant time out of your day and that's pretty hard for us moms because it’s one of the many things that is in short supply. To slow down, stop everything and take the time to deal with their character seems like too much, but mom, it is worth it! Oh, my goodness, it is so worth it!
BEFORE GROWTH & BONDING (seriously, this can even be bonding)
No Room for Emotions: Even though you may feel you are ready to boil over, hold your emotions back or they will be distracted by the emotions. Or worse, your emotions may cause a wall to go up between you and your child so that their heart is less open to the lesson at hand.
MOVE for maximum attention: Moving to a different room than where the offense occurred is my child’s first indication that this is a very serious issue to me. I take them to someplace that is quiet, with little distraction. If you're in public, that might mean going to go sit in the car. Their bedroom is not usually a good option because there’s all these toys to distract them from heart change.
Sort of like Time-out Together. Tell them you’re going to be quiet for a few minutes while you pray and ask God for wisdom to handle this correctly. Tell them they also need to be praying for God to help them know what was going on in their heart and mind when they did that action and that you’ll be asking them about that in a few minutes. Seeing me pray before I respond is my child’s second indication that this is a really big deal to me.
(Especially if they’re young and not used to sitting still, they may not actually be sitting there praying the whole time or even at all, but as you are consistent in handling these situations in this way, and as you guide them gradually in a relationship with Jesus, they’ll likely eventually learn to make prayer and reflection part of their lifestyle of growth.) (If the child is older, I will sometimes pray in a different room from them as it seems with age they will pray and reflect better alone than together.)
SOS to the Expert: Do you know who is the real expert about your child? God, who designed and created your child, is the real expert to call upon. He knows her tendencies, weaknesses, past influences, and future issues. He has full understanding of all the family dynamics, unique personalities, and private interactions within your family that affects this behavior. You definitely want to reach out to God and ask Him for guidance in what to do.
PRAY & EVALUATE. Ask God for WISDOM as you:
A) EVALUATE YOU. That’s right. Prayerfully evaluate how you have influenced this behavior up until now. What role have you played in this issue in role-modeling and valuing.
* What kind of role-model have you been regarding this issue? For example, if your child keeps lying to you, evaluate if you have lied to her or to others. Or if the issue is that he keeps pestering his siblings, have you been an antagonist to him or others?
*What level of VALUE have you placed on this issue in the past? What kind of consistent response have you given to this issue up til now? Have you been inconsistent or unclear about the standard? How you deal with a behavior sends a message to your child of how important or unimportant this behavior is. If we ignore a behavior, we are saying it is no big deal. If we’ve over-reacted in the past, we’ve sent the message that we are a hypocrite – expecting good behavior and wisdom from our child, while we haven’t displayed it in ourselves.
B. EVALUATE YOUR CHILD. Ask God to help you identify the root cause for this behavior. Read this blog post about Reaching the ROOT of the problem rather than just reacting to the surface behavior.
Here’s some possible root causes:
*Outside INFLUENCES – Bad influences regarding this behavior could be coming from peers, being bullied, other family members, tv shows, electronic games, music. Shut off the bad influences and replace with good influence such as Christian radio or one of these great resources
*Kids repeat what is rewarded. You may have been rewarding them without even realizing it. Maybe you give in to what they want so they’ll stop the bad behavior, which s incentive for them to do it again. Or maybe the reward is that they are providing entertainment for themselves by seeing the reaction of the other person. If that’s the case, then look to more scheduled activity for them or hard work or exercise or to see if the other person has done something unkind to them and they are passive-agressively reacting.
*Attention-getting: Your child may be “looking for love in all the wrong places.” As they act out, they may actually be trying to speak out that they need some positive attention – attention from either you or the sibling they may be pestering, For example. Give them attention that says I love you, I see great things about you and these are the specific qualities that I see______, and attention that says, “God made you for greater things than this behavior that I’ve been seeing in you.
*Sinful pleasure. Sometimes they simply have an ornery streak. Pray for that in them. And here’s a good book to help them understand the selfishness of their actions. Big Thoughts for Little People: ABCs to Help You Grow and Wisdom and the Millers and Hive of Busy Bees and. Who is my neighbor. (affiliate links)
Now that you and your child have spent some quiet time praying and evaluating, you’re ready for interaction with your child to reach their heart and hopefully generate some true change.
Now You're Ready For Action
1. Use Mercy Seat Parenting- I write about Mercy Seat Parenting in my books Clash In Your Home: Getting a Game Plan for Cleaning Up the Conflict and Wearing All Your Hats without Wearing Out: Finding Focus to be the Masterpiece Family God Intended. I also talk about it in this podcast Mercy Seat Parenting is parenting the way God parents us. He is approachable and loving in His tone while the standard doesn’t change. Have firm boundaries with a gentle spirit.
2. Ask Questions– Ask questions to reach the root cause, not just of today’s specific behavior but to discover the root that has brought this long-term struggle. Prayer is so important. God is faithful to help you discover it! Truly listening to their answers is also a key part of finding the root cause.
3. Take T.I.M.E to reach their heart
“T”- TRUTH- Teach your child about the TRUTH related to their behavior. What does God say about bullying? Stirring up trouble? Enjoying someone else’s pain? Lying? Parenting in the Proverbs is a great reference book for parents about what the Bible says about different issues. When I take my child to a different room, I grab this book so that I can pray and look through it to use on this step. This isn’t a time for harsh criticism but for partnering with them to grow. I don’t want them to associate the word of God with criticism and accusation as much as a partnership for HELPING them overcome. (They could write out some verses or you could do some memory work together on this after you’re done going through these steps of T.I.M.E or in the days to come).
Also, tell them the truth about who they are. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are created in Christ Jesus to do GOOD works that God prepared in advance for them to do. Be a positive visionary in their life to speak words of truth over them – telling them they were created for good things. Do NOT speak negative labels over them about their behavior. Don’t say, “you’re a bully.” Instead say, “God created you to be a blessing in your sibling’s life. To help them grow and improve and be strong. YOU can lead them toward these things and not draw them away from these things by being a stumbling block to their growth. You're not a stumbling block; you're a blessing-spreader.” It’s important to give them a vision for their important role in the family - that God designed your family and he has an important role for each one of them to play in each other’s lives.
“I”- “I” statements from mom. Mom, talk to them about you. Tell them what God showed you as you prayed about evaluating yourself regarding this situation (as I mentioned above). When we take the time to share vulnerably from the heart with our kids, even if that means confessing how we have messed up in this area, it helps to keep walls down as we move to the next step in this important character and relationship conservation.
Here’s some possible “I” statements that may or may not apply.
“I” am sorry I haven’t been a good example in this area of life – pestering or condescending or not giving you enough work or exercise or structure to keep you occupied.
“I” am sorry that I haven’t been consistent about consequences or training with you when you’ve behaved this way in the past. (if your consequences were too strong or too weak, then you did them a disservice and you probably need to apologize for that and let them know you're committed to improving, getting closer to God's standard is this.)
“I” remember doing something like this in the past. Here’s the bad results that came from it… (could be a way you felt on the inside after behaving poorly, could be someone that you hurt with your actions or a relationship that you wounded with your actions).
M – MEND RELATIONSHIPS – when your child has done an offense against someone else, they need to make it right with them. They also need to make it right with God. Mending a relationship includes: *confessing what they did wrong *asking for forgiveness from the offended *making a commitment to not do that anymore *asking if there’s some way to make it up to them
You’ll need to walk them through each part of mending. They don’t know the words to use. Teach them how to mend. Telling them what to say and what loving voice tones to use as well. When mending with a sibling, be sure their sibling then shows GRACE in return. When mending with God, be sure to tell them that the Holy Spirit lives in us and He whispers to our heart, so we want to learn to listen to his nudge next time. “Tell God that you will listen with your heart.” If you listen to my podcast on this topic, I go through an example of a mending prayer with God.)
E- Equal Consequences (Not a punishment but a reinforcement of the right life values) –In this step, you’re finding an appropriate consequence, often an action for them to take that will help them remember the importance of this for next time. Such, as if they’ve offended their sibling, they might do their siblings chores for the rest of the day. Consequences aren’t about punishment. They’re about actions that indicate the value of the issue (valuing truth in the case of lying, or valuing kindness in the case of bullying). Valuing the right behavior by taking actions that remind the child how important this issue is for their good and the good of those offended. All of this process is really valuing people and valuing hearts.
Be careful about your tone to keep it mercy-filled and to keep the child’s heart open to growth. Believe it or not, if the right attitude is displayed through this process, you can actually BOND with your child through these steps as it shows them that you are partnering with them for their good and God’s glory. You can even show that you are thankful for what a great attitude they have displayed through the mending process.
Intentional Mom, if you’ll follow this plan consistently, you will find it beginning to shape lots of their behavior in many categories. You’re teaching them to value good behavior and to value relationships. Consistency in this will protect those relationships so that they won’t need as much mending in the future as offenses decrease.
The popular use of Time-Out is a really inadequate model for heart change and growth. It's fine for cooling off, but we want more for them; we want to reach their heart. You see, what they really need is T.I.M.E. with you to guide them through the process of growth and change in how to value relationships. Mom, take the T.I.M.E. for heart work.
Val Harrison, The Practically Speaking MOM, is a mom to seven plus three in-law kids and two grandchildren. If you would like more from Val, you can follow her blog and podcast or find her books and other resources at www.PracticallySpeakingMOM.com.
And you can join in the discussion on Facebook. Her page is Practically Speaking MOM and her private Facebook group is Intentional Mom, Strong Family.