We often see our Savior as peaceful and kind. Truly, Jesus exemplified God’s love for us in His acts of care and in His self-sacrifice. But He did not flee from conflict. He took a stand, holding fast to God’s commands and instructions. And in the end it led Him to the cross. For that we are forever grateful.
We, here at St. Paul Lutheran School, are not looking for trouble either. In fact, peace and tranquility are lovely things.
I have been thinking about when problems with children arise. We would like to think that more often than not, problems result from us taking a stand on something because there is a higher purpose; something like preserving the learning environment, or showing respect to others, or doing things in an orderly fashion. If there is not a higher purpose, it may not be worth conflict.
Every day, our teachers and staff have to make many little determinations. Is this situation one that has a bigger lesson attached? Or is it one that can be dealt with quickly or even overlooked? Can we deal with it as something procedural that just needs to be practiced? Or is it something that requires the student to do some heavier thinking and experience a fitting consequence?
Those are tough decisions. And the distinction is sometimes hard for children to understand. But we firmly believe if children are given the opportunity to think about what the bigger picture lesson is, they will grow and improve and make better choices in the future. And that is especially true when we use empathy, when we ask questions, when we encourage thought rather than defensiveness, and when we function from a relationship built on positive interactions.
How can parents help out? Maybe you have figured it out already. You can ask your child what the bigger lesson might be? Ask what it is about a procedure or rule or expectation that is part of helping them grow in maturity and responsibility? Or what about that situation involves caring for others and making their lives better? Does this have something to do with honoring God and God’s house?
That may be tough to do when the child is convinced the rule is stupid or lame. But giving them time to think will help. And if they say they do not know why it is important, you can ask if they want to hear what other kids might think or what your thoughts are. And then you can briefly tell them.
In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd