Late Summer, I started noticing the need for some fresh incentive and reward for our energetic and tenderhearted Josiah.
His personality loves hard and hurts deep. Easily offended and distracted, that same personality thrives off of positive attention and genuine encouragement.
A year ago, after spending some considerable amount of time in prayer concerning our boy who was in so many words...struggling, the Lord gave me the idea to implement a "Good Choice Chart" system. These were fun, simple, and colorful charts that tracked every good choice that he made (e.g. obeying the first time, sharing, acts of kindness, etc.) with a reward of his choice upon completion.
With every square he colored in, this time around, we watched as he became more aware of the control he had in making the correct choice. His confidence grew as he started choosing, more often than not, good over bad and right over wrong.
Thirty-one squares later, he finally reached his star! The star was special as it could only be colored in if the good choice was unprompted. After I explained to him what that word meant, he disappeared with a newfound sparkle in his eyes.
Thirty minutes later, he beckoned me to come upstairs to his room. He had locked himself in there and had cleaned it all by himself. And not the type of "clean" that we as parents say, "That will do. At least I can see the floor." No! He had cleaned it - clothes in the drawers, blankets on the beds, and toys on the shelf! I was impressed.
I had him follow me downstairs to the kitchen so we could dance and jump and clap for him while he colored in his star. His eyes were bright and he flashed that gorgeous smile of his. We were all so proud of him, but not as proud as he was of himself. For his reward, he requested to go to Jungle Bungle with a friend!
Our children crave, desire, and even demand our attention. Let's give it to them. Not just any attention - positive, encouraging, reassuring, and loving attention. Let's jump up and down and be silly proud of them. Let's give them the kind of attention that earns our own squares and stars.
Let's be the example for our kids to follow. Let's be quick to apologize when we lose our patience or slip in the extending of grace. Let's love hard. Let's pray hard. Let's cling to Jesus. Let's ask the Author of Life to help us write the story with our children as we raise them in the fear and admonition of Him.
"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." Deuteronomy 30:19
Given the choices, I'm going with life and blessings. I pray you will too.