Encourage Your Spouse's Parenting Efforts

If you know my wife, you know the last thing you will catch her doing is speaking to a group of people. She doesn't like to write either, so she won't be a guest-writer for me anytime soon.

However, she did some amazing parenting with our three girls, and she is doing some fine grand-parenting with our three grandkids. She comes up with some great ideas, so I'm stealing some from her to share with you.

She worked recently with our three grandkids who stayed with us for a week. The kids are 2, 3 and 5, and the two youngest are very active boys. They were all a bit whiny, perhaps due to the stress of transition, so Gail decided they needed to develop the quality of contentment.

She bought special cookies with decorative icing, one for each child. One was a butterfly shape, one a dragonfly, one a bumblebee and an extra was a caterpillar shape. She sat them all down and explained that she wanted each one to pick out a shape to give to a sibling. No one would get to pick his or her own.

Gail explained the definition of contentment as 'being happy even when you don't get exactly what you want.' Even the youngest could understand it. As each child picked for the other, it became clear that the five year old had her eye on the butterfly. When one brother picked it for the other brother, her face fell.

Gail acknowledged the obvious, letting her know that it's hard when someone else gets what you were wanting. Contessa eventually received the caterpillar, and, learning to console herself, remarked that this was ok because a caterpillar would turn into a butterfly.

Gail made sure each child knew that all the cookies tasted the same; they only looked different. Each child managed to show a good attitude and accepted the cookies with contentment. Gail then asked if each child wanted to try a bite of someone else's cookie, and they all perked up.

Here are five things Gail did to help the children learn.

1. She thought ahead and planned an activity that would appeal to preschoolers.

2. She prepared the children by telling them what she wanted to teach them.

3. She defined the character trait in a way that a child could understand.

4. She used the power of peer pressure to help all the children learn. They were all in the same boat together, and that made it easier for them to handle.  No one was singled out.

5. She made sure the 'test' was of short duration. After a short waiting time, she allowed the children to taste the cookie that they might have wanted most. It's always a good idea to start new training with a positive experience.

I'm proud of my wife and her wisdom. Take a few moments to see the good things your spouse does with your kids. Tell him/her what you saw and how it blessed you. Celebrate your successes in parenting, and don't let the failures ruin your attitude. 

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