Sitting at the supper table as a middle schooler, I wanted the butter which was on the other side of the table. I started to reach for it when a booming voice said, “Sit down. Keep your buns on your chair.”
Okay, but what then? I was seriously frozen; I was clueless how to get the butter without lifting myself off my chair.
As the parent of small children, I would often tell my children not to do this or that. At times I could see a confused look on their face that brought back this memory from my childhood. I realized I was not helping them by just telling them what not to do; I needed to help them by telling them what to do.
That realization only complicated matters for me, because at times I didn’t know what I wanted my child to do or what was the “right” thing to do, I just knew I didn’t want them to do what they were doing.
While taking the time to think through situations we didn’t like and actually pondering what would be a better way for our child to act, my husband and I began to see a pattern developing.
First, we noticed the need to identify the character trait lacking in any situation. Again, this required not just labeling but understanding what we meant and expected when we declared a character trait.