Monday, June 27, 2011

How to teach repentance

Many family and friends know that my son is quite the literal child.  Something either is or isn't.

Lately, he has really been motivated by what he is learning at church.  He'll talk about it repeatedly throughout the week, explaining it to his little sister, his classmates (or so I'm told by their parents at birthday parties) and to us.  I think he is at that age when the stories from the Bible are incredibly vivid, and exciting, sometimes adventurous or mysterious.  I'm just happy it rivals his two year obsession with Scooby Doo.  This past Sunday he learned about Jonah and the worm (worm, not whale Jonah 4:5-11).   The lesson from the day taught him about the word "repent" and what it means.  A great start to the week...

Tonight, my little man had a rough night.  It could be that being without Daddy most of the month is really starting to take its toll on all of us.  I know I've not been as patient and all-forgiving as I should be as a mother so why wouldn't it also be the case for this almost six year old little boy of ours?  It doesn't matter what the problem was but the result was that he had a consequence for some repeated behavior tonight.  He had multiple warnings and then I had to lower the boom and he lost one of his three books at bedtime.  The wailing, the tantrum, the screaming commenced and when he finally stopped, we read his two books and began our nighttime prayers. We always follow the prayer outline of "thank you God for...forgive me God me God with...I praise you God for..."  His prayer was first "I'm sorry that I disobeyed" but quickly followed with "please, God, remove my consequence and let me have my third book back" and despite my best efforts to talk with him what repenting means and that it is not about regaining what we lost or want back, it just didn't sink in.  I'm blanking on how best to approach this.  Alongside what I hope is a growing relationship with God, I want him to learn to accept the inevitable possibility of consequences between himself and peers and sometimes teachers without being on full tilt temper tantrum mode for the rest of the day following an incident.  We all mess up sometimes and sometimes we have to have a time out or consequence.  How can I get him to cope with this aspect of life?

So moms out there that may be struggling with the same challenge, any thoughts or words of advice?


rich said...

It's similar to the way that God teaches us repentance. Use God's Word and prayer, both addressed specifically to his problem/area of growth. In addition to times of discipline, talk about these things at times when he is not being disciplined. Model self-control, thanfulness, (the fruits of the spirit). Model repentance when you fail. The rod is one of the important means of grace for your child (Prov. 22:15, 23:13-14). And again, model repentance when you fail. And pray some more. We certainly have a common task in front of us in this arena.

Stephanie said...

That's a tough one! I've got no words of wisdom, but I'll be checking back to see if anyone else does!! I guess if I'd been in your shoes, I might have said something about having your heart in the right place...if you're talking to God about removing consequences, then your heart is focused on yourself. But if you're talking to God about how sorry you are and how you'll try to do better, then your heart is focused on Him? But I don't think Tyler would've gotten that, either.