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Basketball. Captain America. Apple juice.

 These three things are in high demand at the Allen house. 

Jake is 5 now going on 15. 

His maturity, memory and vocabulary shock me some days…how can he be so small but retain and remember so much? He is teaching me Spanish from Kindergarten, absorbs sports facts and teams like a sponge, reading whole books to us at night, telling me his exact order at Chick-fil-a….and then double checking to make sure I remembered the BBQ sauce. 

Who is this kid?

This is how I know the first few years are crucial as parents…their little minds are developing at a rapid pace and they are absorbing and taking in all of the things around them every minute. All they know about love, discipline, the Bible, marriage, family, church, television, sports teams, food and the list goes on and on…comes from us as the parents and what we choose to let surround them!

Essentially you are CREATING the environment for them at this young age.

That will change later, but while we have their full attention, shouldn’t we take advantage of it?! Jake thinks it is really cool right now for mommy and daddy to tuck him into bed at night. We are taking advantage of this time to love on him and teach him the importance of prayer and reading God’s word everyday. 

He is so proud to keep a bookmark in his Jesus Storybook Bible as we read through a different story each night. These stories are filtrating through everything we do now. He is understanding how God’s love is never ending and he is understanding what sin is in real life situations. His heart is growing sensitive to things of the Lord. 

But there is a battle between his heart and mind, just like in all of us. He is learning of God’s love and hiding truth in his heart, but at the same time his mind is flooded with temptations to disobey what he knows is right to fulfill his own desires. 

He is just 5, too young you say? 

Let me give you a real life example for parenting…

It’s a CREATE acronym that I use at our house...

Remember that apple juice thing from above? Well it must be a real temptation for a 5 year old. Enough that he would resort to begging for it! I tell Jake that he does not need any more juice and that I am going upstairs to lay his brother down for a nap. He asks again for juice (really?!) and I said a clear “no, don’t ask again” and walked upstairs. You probably know how this will go down–It’s funny how we have a way of catching our kids, or they out themselves about their own disobedience. I honestly pray my children will get caught in their sin— I heard a Christian mom say that once when I was a teenager and I thought, “how cruel”—but now I know exactly what she meant. If they are caught, we can stop right there and have a teaching moment with them. This is much better to discipline for something small now, before the eye rolls come and bigger discipline problems occurs. So on that note, back to the story… I come downstairs as Jake is rushing to throw away something that looks a lot like a juice box. I ask him, “what’s that?” so he has a chance to answer me honestly—but that would be too easy. “I don’t know” he says in his most innocent voice. 

Wrong answer…

Now plug in your story. I’m sure this is all sounding familiar. 

What’s next? That’s what I kept asking the Lord. How do I best handle this, as I know the situations will only get more complicated as he grows older…

So here is a CREATE parenting real life example:

C: Correct. Gentle but straight forward. Offer them a verbal warning with some explanation so they can learn what it is they are doing wrong. 

Example: Jake you don’t need any more juice right now. Too much sugar is not good for you and right now we need to drink some water, but maybe later you can have some more juice. Please stop begging. The answer is no and don’t ask again. 

R: Rebuke. The verbal warning and explanation has already been given. This is a direct decision made by the child to disobey what they have been told. Disciplinary action needs to be taken more than verbal correction. Time-out, spanking, etc.–whatever is the method in your home.

Example: Jake deciding the he knew what was best for himself and making a direct decision to disobey me. On top of that, to try and hide his disobedience and lie about it when directly asked. Jake gets in trouble with a spanking and is retold his moment of correction so he understands his moment of disobedience.

E: Encourage. This is VERY IMPORTANT to follow the rebuke. This is your teaching moment about redemption. This is your moment to encourage them and share the Bible with them. That they are not alone. That we have all sinned and messed up and will continue to. That even though there are consequences (the rebuke) when we mess up….that we are confident that they will do better next time. That they can be forgiven by you and also by Jesus! 

Example: (Plug in a Bible story they know to help them understand. A classic at our house is Adam and Eve.) Did God tell Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree? “Yes.” Did I tell you not to drink the juice? “Yes.” Did Eve decide to listen to the snake anyway and disobey? “Yes.” Did you decide your way was better than mine and drink the juice anyway? “Yes.” Adam and Eve tried to sneak away and hide from God. Did you try to sneak and throw away the juice before mommy could see? “Yes.” Did they get punished for their sin and get kicked out of the garden? And did I punish you? “Yes.”  Does God still love Adam and Eve after they sinned and have big plans for them? Does mommy still love you and know you will do better next time? “Yes.”

Right from the Bible…easy enough for kids to understand! 

A: Affirm. This is the fun part after the hard part. Love on them. Affirm them. Let them know you believe in them. That you know they will do better next time. That Jesus has forgiven them and so have you. This part is sometimes left out–I think it leaves them feeling defeated. Don’t leave them, no matter what age, until they know without a doubt how much you love them. That you discipline them because you care. That you believe in them!

Example: Jake, mommy and daddy still love you so much and so does Jesus! I know you understand what you did wrong, and I know you will listen better next time. XOXOXO

T: Them. Your kids. Pretty simple.

E: Everyday. Nobody is perfect. Including the parents. Teaching moments will come everyday. Sometimes it may even be you saying you are sorry to them for how you messed up. 

All inspired by what God is teaching me from a passage in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”

“Your people” is your family. It starts at home. 

Thanks for letting me share what I am learning with you! I hope it was helpful…

I am so thankful for such a great gift we have been given in the Bible, and I don’t know where this momma would be without it!