TOBY THE SERVANT OF TRINITY
Yesterday Toby (6) was being mean to his sister Trinity (4). As a punishment I told him he would have to be her servant for the rest of the day. I told Toby that if Trinity needed anything, he would need to respond kindly with the words, “yes, my princess, I would love to,” and then assist her. I explained to Trinity that if she needed anything at all, she could ask Toby and he would have to assist her. I gathered that she fully understood what she had just gained when she immediately made her first request. She said, “Toby, would you like to play tea cups with me?” My wife and I found it hard to hold back our laughter. His brother Timmy did not, though, and started laughing. Toby found it amusing as well and started to laugh also. He looked at Trinity and responded with, “Yes, my princess, I would love to.”
I think Toby actually enjoyed playing with his sister.
I believe we need to teach our kids a few things here:
1. Being kind to others is a must.
Too often we allow our kids to get away with being unkind, rude, selfish and mean to their siblings. This should not be acceptable to parents. We need to address every instance of this behavior with loving correction and/or a creative punishment to curb this behavior. Many times I hear parents say two things: (1) “Kids will be kids.” Yes, this is true… This means that kids will be messy, careless, playful at the expense of our property, precocious and at times a huge handful. This does not relieve parents of our responsibility to lovingly show them the correct response to these situations. (2) Parents complain, “if I corrected my kids every time they did something wrong, I would be correcting them all day long.” My response to them is usually, “Duh, that’s the whole concept of being a parent!” We are here to teach our kids how to respond to every situation that might present itself. Yes it’s tiring, yes it’s a lot of work. The dividends that good parenting yields, though, will pay off for the rest of our children’s lives.
2. You must learn how to joyfully serve others.
In order to be a great leader, one must first learn how to serve. I have been self-employed for almost 20 years now. The thing that has most amazed me about other contractors is their unwillingness to serve their clients. I believe that one of the contributing factors to my staying in business all these years has been my willingness to take care of what needed to be done. I have always tried to place my clients’ needs above my own needs or pride. I want my kids to be known for having these servant qualities as well. One of the marks of a great leader is their willingness to serve others.
3. Learn how to respond positively when things don’t go your way.
Teaching our kids how to respond when we speak to them or correct them is so important. When Timmy was 3 years old, I wanted to teach him how to respond to me when I told him we could not buy something. As we were walking into Ralphs one day, I told him that I wanted him to pick out something which he would like me to buy for him. I instructed him that when he asked me, I was going to tell him no. I told him that when I said “no,” I wanted him to respond with “okay Dad, no problem.” Things went down just as I had instructed him. After he said, “okay Dad, no problem,” I paused for a couple of seconds. I then told him that I was so proud of the way he responded to me, that I had changed my mind and I was now going to buy him what he requested of me. I did this with him a couple more times with great success. Then it was time to change it up a bit. I instructed Timmy that when he asked me for something this time, the answer was really going to be no, and I wouldn’t change my mind. I also explained to him that as we went shopping in the future, I would sometimes say “no” and really mean it and sometimes, if I was impressed with his willingness to have a great attitude despite my saying “no,” then I might just change my mind.
This worked out well a few more times until one trip to the costume store. I said “no”… he said “no problem”…he looked at me…then looked at me again…then he cried for 10 minutes, saying, “I thought if I said okay, then you would get it for me!”
I took this time to lovingly re-explain the whole concept again. I also told him that because he didn’t have a great response this time, the next couple of times he requested something, I would have to tell him “no” and really mean it. I also told him that when he responds with a great attitude to any situation that seems negative, he will increase his chances of having the situation turned around for his good. He understood this and from that point on, he responded confidently and positive. To this day Timmy has a great attitude. I have always tried to change it up to keep my kids honest and on their toes. I also say “yes” to some of their requests and choose my no’s wisely. When we are in a store, it’s fun to watch the responses of people within earshot when my 4-year-old daughter asks me for something, I say “no,” and she says, ”okay Dad, no problem.”
People look at me. You can tell they’re thinking, ”how the heck did he do that?” I think to myself, all you have to do is teach your kids how to respond.
Kids are like little computers just waiting to be programmed. Parents are the programmers. What programs are you installing in their lives? If you don’t program them, the TV, media and other friends will. Remember: you’re the parent. You’re in charge. It’s a simple fact, but sometimes we forget.
We need to teach more than we correct. If we find ourselves constantly correcting our kids, this may be a sign that we need to teach them more.