We’ve talked a little about planting. Now let’s talk about building. It’s very well to plant the seeds of potential in your child, but without building, it will not grow properly. It’s the equivalent of pruning your trees, giving them fertilizer, and with the weaker ones, driving posts into the ground right next to the saplings and then tying the saplings to the posts so that they don’t get knocked over.
When it comes to children, build would mean that the parent will set and consistently enforce bedtimes, limit junk food, get them to do their homework, be home on time for supper, and so on.
Building is critical for two reasons. First it teaches children that not everything is a matter of preference. Sometimes children have to do things that they don’t like, but the results are that they learn about:
1. objective rights and wrongs that they need to follow.
2. standards of decent and upright behavior that they must live up to.
Second, building creates habits that will allow children to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually strong enough and healthy enough to continue sprouting in the later years.
As most parents would know, without behavioral guidelines, a child will deteriorate. The tricky part is creating a balance so that you are firm with the children without sacrificing the love and caring that they need.
For example, the Smiths had a thirteen-year-old boy Donald who was a great kid. The parents had taught him good values and attitudes. But they were less consistent in building structure in Donald’s life.
Although he was a bright kid and had done well when he was younger, now the classes started to get tougher and more demanding, and as a result, Donald’s grades started to go down. The parents increased the amount they praised Donald in the hope of encouraging him to do better (which is a planting technique), the academic descent continued. The parents tried to show interest in what Donald was doing, and hoped to get him excited in doing well in school. Nothing was working. Donald was flunking school.
What was interesting was that at the same time, Mr. And Mrs. Smith noticed that Donald didn’t pay attention to time, he lacked time-related routines, and was always late for everything. He had no set time for waking up, catching the school bus in the morning, doing homework after school, being home for supper, and bedtime.
This meant that Donald would leave studying for exams until the last night, often missed the school bus in the morning, and come in for supper half hour after it had officially started.
The truth was that Donald was a good kid- honest, caring, relaxed and happy, which are all signs of healthy and natural growth. He was lacking the building in his life, since he was not organized, scheduled, or personally disciplined. He knew that his academic performance was suffering, and he was creating tension and unhappiness at home with his lack of reliability.
So what did the parents do? Recognizing the need for structure in Donald’s life, they reviewed all aspects of daily routine that Donald needed to get through the day- such as waking up in the morning, breakfast, getting on the bus, doing homework, supper time, and bedtime. They set up a chart with all these elements, and whenever Donald did something well, he would get a check. If he didn’t do it, he would have to pay a fine out of his allowance.
In the beginning, Donald did not make that much of an effort to follow the guidelines. He would accomplish a few checks and pay the fines for that which he didn’t do. At one point he even offered to pay the fines in advance so that he didn’t have to worry about the checks. But before long he saw how much money he was losing. Once after failing to earn a check, he exploded “I can’t afford this anymore!!” From then on he redoubled his efforts to live up to the guidelines, and in a short time he was able to follow his daily routine very well. The injection of structure in his life had succeeded.
and as we have said before:
What we plant (SOW) with our children, we REAP… in all of our Futures!
Learn IT, DO IT, Teach IT, Share IT
This is what building is about. Establishing daily routines is a critical part of helping a child maintain a healthy path of growth and development.
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