1) Where did we ever get the crazy idea that children DO better when they FEEL worse (punishment)
2) Children DO better when they FEEL better (encouragement)
3) Find solutions to problems WITH your children to increase motivation
This week, I happened to glance through my copy of The Love Dare. DH and I won it at a young marrieds event a few years ago, and honestly, I've never taken the time to read it before.
The opening sentences for Day 1: Love is patient grabbed me:
Love works. It is life's most powerful motivator and has far greater depth and meaning than most people realize.Love is the best and most powerful motivator. Love helps people feel better so they do better. This is true of children, and this is true of adults. It is true relationally, and it is also true spiritually.
After all, it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance. God could say "do this or else," stand back and watch us fail, then dole out the punishment. He could zap us whenever we made a mistake. Instead, He died for us. Instead, He rose again to bring us new life. Instead, He gave us the Holy Spirit to comfort us, teach us, guide us, bear fruit in us and continue to work in us to empower us to overcome old habits and heal past hurts. How unimaginably great and wide and deep and high is his love for us!
Later in the same lesson in The Love Dare, I found this nugget of wisdom:
Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it.This is certainly a wise way to conduct a marital relationship. It is equally wise to apply to parenting.
Because God first loved me, I want to pass along His kind love, His patient love, to my child. Patience gives my daughter permission to be human, not a robot that must obey my every whim instantly. Patience understands that everyone fails, especially a three-year-old whose brain is still developing and who is still learning the rules of our society. When my three year old daughter makes mistakes, patience chooses to give her more time than she deserves to correct it. Patience gets down on her level and kindly and firmly helps her make the right choice.
Where punishment motivates through fear, encouragement and positive guidance motivate through love.
Motivating through fear is appealing because it gets a quick result. However, outwardly "good" behavior motivated by fear lasts only as long as the threat of punishment exists. Those motivated to comply solely through fear are also motivated to learn ways to sneak and cover-up so they can keep doing what they want.
Motivating through love seems like more work. It may not have as quick of a result in the short-term. But unlike behavior motivated by fear, it has staying power. Those motivated this way have no need to sneak or cover-up bad behavior. The close, honest, authentic relationships that result are worth the extra work and extra time.
I will walk in my Savior's footsteps and train and motivate with patient love.