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Are You Being Challenged?

This is not to be mistaken by a child who is challenging your patience or your energy.
This is a child who is challenging your authority.
I listened as someone told of their child correcting them.
The adult conceded and agreed almost happily.
In the context, I cringed. Even if the child was right, she was challenging authority by how she said it.
Do you know the difference?

Recently while teaching kindergarteners (I know, not my best age to be teaching) for VBS, a boy corrected me while I was telling the Bible story. 
I told him where he was wrong and continued with the story.
But that did not stop his comments.

Sometimes a child challenges what you say.
They question everything you say.
If they don’t question, they correct—as if they are in charge.
THEY ARE CHALLENGING YOU.
Not all questions are challenges. 
Sometimes, they are seeking to know, learn, or understand. 
Those questions I answered.
You will know the difference by their attitude.

As the week progressed His challenges escalated.
When I told him not to lay on the floor while the rest sang and danced, he refused to move.
Little requests were ignored.
HE WAS CHALLENGING ME.

Now at home, I have a solution for a child who challenges me.
It’s called the Biblical way—alias, the rod.
But even in a church setting this would probably not be permitted.

By day four, the challenge had escalated to a high pitch.
He did not just correct me during the story. 
He emphatically declared, “Jesus was not God.” 
I didn’t have time to prooftext all the reasons why He Was God.
I corrected it for the sake of the others, not for him.
I told him to be quiet and listen to the story. 
He was not talking to learn, he was talking to interrupt, disrupt, and challenge.

It was almost time to go home, when he gave me the final challenge for the day.
He was playing with the decorations on the stage.
Our class sits on the line beside the stage.
And should be listening to the speaker or the video.
I grabbed his hand and held it.
He squirmed.
I told him, if he wanted me to let go, he must stop squirming.
He didn’t. 
In fact, he started to pick and poke at my hand.
Now, most of you know my hand strength is not great, nor do I have great endurance with my hands.
But I had drawn the line. 
I could not let go.
I must hold his wrist until he stopped squirming or he would have won.

Now some of you are reading this, may be thinking, "It was such a little thing!
What’s wrong with touching the decorations?"
But it was more than that.
DISCIPLINE IS ALWAYS MORE THAN THAT.
Discipline is showing that child, they are not boss.

Maybe the child isn't so obstinate. 
But every child will challenge authority. (Because we all have the sin nature!)
Maybe they take their sweet time in obeying.
By their delay, they control you.
That is a challenge.
Maybe they do the task, but only do part of it.
That is a challenge. Or laziness. Probably both.
See what I mean?
EVERY CHILD WILL CHALLENGE YOU, Sometime. Someway. 
And especially when you don't have energy or time.
Unless you're never home and don't spend time with them.
You must accept the challenge and WIN!
I have talked about child training before, (see the child training listing at the bottom for those who are reading this on their phones, and at the side, for those reading on the computer.).

When my children were small, every single one of them had several incidents, where I told them to do something, maybe it was just to pick up a crayon, and they refused to do it.
What do I do with that?
First, I make sure they heard me.
That’s when we started having them repeat our commands back to us before they obeyed.
Second, I allow time for them to process the command.
IF they were prone to choose poorly, I would tell them before I requested something that I wanted them to think about the consequences if they chose not to obey, before they made their decision.
Then give the command.
It is a command.
Not a suggestion or an idea.
It is a command.
Because as a parent, I have the right, given by God, to tell my children what to do.

When the child chose poorly, and decided not to pick up that crayon, I spanked them with a rod [a paint stick works for small children, or a round dowel from Lowes or a wooden spoon (until it’s broken, then it’s splintered too much)].
I remind them why I am spanking them.
Then ask them AGAIN to pick up that crayon.
I give them time to process and choose.
And spank them again if they don’t.
Mind you, this is repeated until they, not me, pick up that crayon.
Each time, I do not lecture. I do not beg. I do not bribe.
I just ask them in the same voice as the first time I asked them.
This is continued until they pick up the crayon.
Sometimes it takes more than 20 minutes and many spankings.

Why won’t I just pick up the stupid crayon!?
Because something more than picking up a crayon is at stake here.

If you don’t have authority over your child in EVERYTHING, you don’t have authority. 
You just have a child who obeys when he chooses, because you are not in charge. He knows it. And you will soon know it.

You would think 20 minutes is a short time.
But no, you are totally drained.
Emotionally.
Physically.
Even spiritually.
You have fought a battle for their soul.
Because if they cannot obey you, who they have seen, how will they submit to God Who they have not seen.

You would think after one of these events, they would get it,
But no, this happened several times for some of my sons before they got it.
They still needed daily reminders of the rod, but not the marathon experience.

You might be wondering how that boy in VBS did?
While my hands were giving way, I walked him out of the room and found his parent.
I explained the situation.
I don’t think the parents realized what was at stake.
I could not spank the child, but they could—but didn’t.

Know how I could tell?
The next night, he refused to do anything.
He carried a pleased arrogant manner.
It would not do to separate him from another, he had to be separated from the entire group.
When he was supposed to be in line to leave an event, he remained in the chair where I had put him away from the group.
I left him. (I had helpers who should stay with him.)
He arrived to the next room breathless—but when he wanted.
He had won.
He knew it. And I knew it.
I could do nothing to control him.

I cried for that child.
Because he may have won that battle.
But he will lose his soul.

I wondered if I should talk to his parents.
I felt God telling me, “Wait for them to ask.”
I hope they ask soon.


Teachers, out there, how do you control your classroom?

How I wish I could mother my children again knowing all I know now. They are "great" kids, but I know where they suffer from a lack of proper discipline. Especially one of my girls. Thanks for the reminder to all mothers.

Thank you! Where were you when I was raising 3 boys, one very strong willed. Thank you for putting your life challenges out there for young mothers to learn.
Love you.

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I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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