Winners and Losers
By Malissa Custer
Reactions are something I am constantly talking to my kids about. Everyone has feelings; it is what you do with those feelings that determines whether you get into trouble or not. I’ve found that competition has a way of creating supercharged situations for my kids to work through and react to, with our help. It is great practice for real life.
Our two oldest kids were playing checkers on their own. One says, “I don’t want to play anymore. This is boring.” The other says, “You can’t quit! I’m winning!” The first says, “That’s not why I want to quit. Checkers is no fun.” The second says again, “I am winning, and if you quit I automatically win! You’re going to lose either way! Dad, I won!” The first one proceeds to catch the edge of the board just enough to squiggle the pieces out of place so no one will ever know what happened. It turns out the quitter only wanted to quit because he/she was losing! I was a little surprised because I had not seen that will to win in that child before.
After thinking a lot about that situation, I realized no matter what personality each child has, competition is good for them. This is true, not only in sports (which they should be willing to participate in), but in something that they are passionate about and take pride in. Because our oldest two are extreme opposites, they balance each other out a bit on their own, but competition has a way of bringing character flaws to the surface to deal with. Learning how to be a gracious winner or a good loser is something you always hear about, with regard to competition.
You may think your child is non-competitive and that he or she doesn’t care about winning and losing. I used to think that could be true, because I have one child that does not care about sports at all. Then the checkers game happened, and I realized you just have to find what they care about, and it certainly doesn’t have to be sports. Maybe you’ll find that a child is competitive about always being right, or answering first. Because of the extreme opposites in our house, there is usually a very clear winner and loser. Teaching whoever beats the other to be merciful and never gloat is a valuable life skill. Teach them to be fair, even if it means they lose. “My bad, I was in the net” can be very hard to say, and our knee-jerk reaction is to deny it. Teach it, so they overcome that natural, sinful reaction. Being a good team member will help them a lot in life.
Obviously, teaching how to be a good leader happens in team situations. Be encouraging; don’t be a ball hog; and inspire winning. Learning to be a good follower is just as important. You may not be the best on the team, but you will participate with a good attitude, and help achieve success in any way you can. If you have a bad attitude, will yourself to keep it quiet. If you are not skilled at what you are doing, don’t adopt the “I don’t care” attitude. Try your best even if everyone else is better than you are. Don’t be jealous of the ones who are the best. Working through these team situations with your child can really create security and confidence. “I may not have won, but I tried my best,” feels good. “I’m not the fastest runner, but I did win first place at the piano competition,” also helps them to realize they have strengths and weaknesses, and weaknesses are ok.
Competition teaches the child that hard work and practice pay off. Listening to and respecting an authority other than their parents is good for kids. I want to produce humans who control their emotions in everyday life and stressful situations. Competition is a great avenue for teaching some things that will impact them positively for the rest of their lives. That’s how we, as parents, win!
How Do I Raise a Respectful Teenager? Part 1
By Barbara Russell
When I brought my sweet, innocent, newborn baby home from the hospital, I trembled at the thought of how I was supposed to raise this little one to become a respectful teenager. I had never been a mother before, and I wasn’t sure I knew what to do, but I believed James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
It wasn’t long before my sweet, innocent baby started to manifest his ugly sinful nature.
As I laid him in his crib, knowing his belly was full, his diaper was dry, and he was cuddled and loved, he screamed like I laid him on a tack! He did NOT want to go to sleep. It wasn’t easy for me to say, “Goodnight, Mommy loves you,” and then shut the door behind me to let him scream. I knew sleep was what he needed. After consistently resisting bedtime, he realized that he was not going to get his way, so he might as well submit to my authority, stop screaming, and go to sleep. Why did I do this? Because I was trying to raise a respectful teenager, and “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” (Prov. 25:28)
As time went on, my sweet baby learned to roll over. He decided he would like to do this while I was changing his diaper. At first, I would gently roll him back over and say, “Lie still.” If he continued to roll over, I would swat his bottom and kindly repeat, “Lie still.” We would do this over and over until he decided to submit to my authority. I refused to “manhandle” my baby on the changing table (or chase my toddler all over the house trying to change a diaper), NOT because it was an inconvenience to me, BUT because I was trying to raise a respectful teenager. Col. 3:20 says, “Children obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”
How exciting it was when my baby learned to walk! Oh, but wait! Now he could go wherever he wanted, and he soon learned that he could run from me! “Come to Mommy,” I called to him while we were out shopping. Instead, he decided to run away from me, which resulted in him falling and cracking his head open. He received 7 stitches and wears the scar to this day. After that, several times a day, I would initiate, “Come to Mommy.” If he did not come, he got a spanking. Sometimes he would throw himself on the floor in protest. I would not pick him up, but told him to get up and come to Mommy. If he refused, I would go over to him, spank him, go back to my spot and repeat, “Come to Mommy.” We did this over and over until he decided to submit his will to my authority. Why? Because I was trying to raise a respectful teenager and “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child: but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Prov. 22:15)
When we would take a walk to the park I would have him hold my hand. I refused to squeeze his hand and drag him along, or worse yet, put a leash on him like an animal, in order for him to stay with me. Sometimes he submitted; other times, he would whine and wiggle and throw himself on the ground. Each time, I would pick him back up and kindly, but firmly repeat, “Hold Mommy’s hand.” We would do this over and over, and each time the swat on his bottom got harder and harder until he chose to obey and willingly held my hand. Some days we never made it to the park. I would tell him, “Since you will not choose to obey, we cannot have fun at the park.” Why? Because I was trying to raise a respectful teenager. Prov. 13:15 says, “Good understanding giveth favour; but the way of transgressors is hard.”
As he continued through his terrible twos and threes, I continued to initiate training. “Hand Mommy the…” pen, book, toy etc. Sometimes he would throw it at me. I would not bend over and pick it up. I would say, “No, I said HAND it to Mommy. Now pick it up and hand it to Mommy.” I would repeat this over and over until he learned to obey correctly, adding a swat that gradually got harder and harder until he chose to submit. Sometimes he would put his hands behind his back and yell, “NO!” Again I would repeat the process until he would submit his will to my authority. Why? Because I was trying to raise a respectful teenager, and “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Eccl. 8:11)
Can you believe all this happened before he turned 4 years old!! And by then, 2 more children had been added to our family, so all this training was times three! Exhausting? Absolutely!! But speaking from hindsight, it was extremely worth it! Laying a firm foundation is SO vitally important if you want to raise a respectful teenager.
I always tried to discipline my children for their benefit, not mine. I would not discipline because I was angry or because my children were making my life miserable, or embarrassing me, or inconveniencing my plans. I did not yell at them, grab things away from them, or slap them across the face. “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Prov. 31:26