Saturday, January 31, 2015

Motivating children to do what they need to do without being prompted

Motivate Your Child - A Book Review

Are you Facebook? Do you ever see the memes about What Kind of Parent Are You? I don't what all the answers are because I've never taken one of those quizzes, but I see from my friends that some of the answers are fun, dictator, friend, etc. I already know that the kind of parent I am varies by the day. Sometimes I'm hard, sometimes I give more slack, sometimes I'm inadequate, sometimes I'm insecure, sometimes I'm confident, sometimes I'm gentle and kind in my discipline and others I'm too harsh. I know I'm not alone in all of those. But I love my children just as you love yours and our goal is the same, right? Our goal is to raise our kids to functioning members of society who know right from wrong and make the right choices based on knowing what it is right. And if you are a Christ-follower, like me, then you want your children to love God with all their heart, sharing that love with others. Right? Do we want our children to make choices based on fear or intimidation? Peer pressure? Selfishness? I know I don't. I don't want my kids to behave based on what the external reward or consequence is, typical behavior modification. I want them to be internally motivated, based on what's in their heart, what they know is right.

So when I saw that Motivate Your Child by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, is a Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Children Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told, I knew I had to read it. I thought it would be useful. Who would have thought this would be a book I couldn't put down? It's like a family therapy session that keeps getting better and better, providing tools and discussion points to help guide the reader through correcting your child, preparing them to use better or different behaviors in the future, practicing those scenarios. The tools and techniques help build integrity and encourage taking initiative.

Fairly early in the book, the authors provide a checklist of characteristics so you can identify areas where your child's conscience is already strong or needs improvement. The following four chapters dive into how to improve those areas of your child's conscience, driving their internal motivation behind their behavior. It addresses how to handle the issues of blaming others, lying, not obeying, and so much more. If your children ever get angry or blame others when they do something wrong, this book has great suggestions.

I'm telling you, I just kept underlining and underlining and taking notes on index cards to keep in my purse. When my kids are fighting and blaming each other, now I have other tools. Even while I was reading the book, I started incorporating the suggestions and my kids responded much more favorably, It's a matter of involving them, their heart and conscience, rather than imposing something uncomfortable upon them. Now, this isn't to say that there is never discipline, but rather coupling discipline with heart-training. Sometimes temptations need to be removed. Sometimes children need to be redirected toward stopping what they are doing and following directions rather than repeating the directions over and over again and waiting for the child to respond.

Eventually, a child's behaviors aren't just about his or herself, but about how those behaviors affect others. The family dynamic exists through all the relationships within the family. Internal motivation isn't just about making the right decisions about honesty, tact, lying, or selfishness, but about how our actions affect others and engaging others in what interests them. As parents, we may lose interest in some our child's interests during the teen years. However, "initiating relationship regularly is like adding oil to the machine to reduce friction so tasks are easier to accomplish." (p163) It's our job to tie the relationships together so our family unit functions.

Living through example, incorporating family worship time, reading the bible with your children, and living your faith are some of the ways that our children will develop a strong spiritual motivation internally. Just as being externally motivated through only discipline and rewards will not provide a strong internal conscience, simply telling our kids what to do or believe will not build a strong spiritual foundation. They need to be involved in it to believe it for themselves. Your example sets one layer of foundation, including your children in that examples sets a stronger layer of foundation. If your kids are older and you haven't been building them spiritually, it's not too late to start. Chapter 16 walks the reader through situations of resistance, spiritual warfare, pressing on, and being a Godly influence. The key here is to not be intimidated or give up. God is powerful and His grace is sufficient.

The most important thing, leading our children to Christ and providing good soil for their spiritual growth, is not overlooked in this book. The authors really take the lead in walking parents through this and continuing as their children grow, including how to overcome some obstacles along the way.

As I mentioned previously, Motivate Your Child is like a family therapy program in paperback. I loved the practical explanations and discussion points, how easy it is to make notes and incorporate the suggestions, and I made note cards to carry with me. Thomas Nelson publishing really hit the mark with this book by Turansky and Miller, founders of The National Center for Biblical Parenting. Every Christian parent should have access to a copy of this book. I wish it had been published 10 years ago!

You can order your copy of Motivate Your Child on Amazon or from The National Center for Biblical Parenting. There is a Motivate Your Child Action Plan available as well or you can order the Book and Action Plan Set.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on or order from these links the author may receive a percentage of your purchase in compensation.
This compensation in now way affected the opinions expressed of the book reviewed.

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