How to Handle a Troublemaking Child

How to Handle a Troublemaking Child

I hear from many parents who have a child who antagonizes siblings, rebels against them, or otherwise makes life difficult. I have six strategies for turning your troublemaker into a terrific child.

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#1 Look for positive traits and praise them.

The first strategy and perhaps the most important strategy is to look for the child’s positive traits and praise them. Often I hear from exasperated parents who tell me that finding something positive is very, very difficult. I used to hear the same thing from teachers who dealt with difficult students in the classroom. So much of the parent’s or teacher’s time and attention is focused on dealing with problem behavior that it’s hard to see anything positive that is happening. So in order to find the positives, we may have to shorten the time frame. Here is what I mean. For example, perhaps every trip to the grocery store involves a child having a tantrum over something. If your standard for positive behavior is no tantrum at the grocery store, you’re both likely to be frustrated. Instead, look for your child’s good behavior in the first few minutes in the store and praise it.

One problem I see with many parents who have a more perfection-driven personality is that parents are afraid that praising small behaviors will convince the child that there is nothing that needs to be changed. This is simply not the case. As long as you are praising truly positive behavior or attitudes, your child will be motivated to repeat them.

#2 Assign new labels publicly

The second strategy for dealing with a troublemaker is to assign new labels publicly. You don’t want to call your child the troublemaker. The only reason I am using that word here is because it communicates effectively the type of child that we are discussing. If you call your child a drama queen, a terror, or any other negative label, your child will seek to live up to the label. We are all very vulnerable to how we are described by others, but children are especially so. We might label a child in anger or frustration, not really meaning it, but our kids are likely to take on the label. To counteract that, we need to give our kids positive labels, especially in front of other people. So tell your child you’re so thankful he is responsible while you’re having people over. Compliment your child’s persistence in front of friends.

One of our family traditions is on a child’s birthday, the entire family takes turns saying what they love about the birthday boy or girl. This is a way of assigning new, positive labels. I highly recommend it. Assigning new labels works hand-in-hand with looking for positives to praise.

#3 Use positive coaching

Next, you will want to use positive coaching. Before a situation in which your child has a history of behaving badly, tell your child you are confident that she can behave admirably in the situation. Remember to use those small steps in your coaching, too. So tell your child that you know she can walk quietly with you into the grocery store’s produce section. I would follow that up with other evidence you have seen of positive behavior traits. You might say,  “You are such a good helper. I know you will do a great job of helping me pick out fruit that has just the right amount of ripeness.” Express your belief in your child’s positive traits and your child will believe it too.

#4 Exercise trust with responsibility

The next step in turning a troublemaker into a terrific kid is to exercise trust with responsibility for that child. After you’ve begun regularly looking for positives in the child and praising him, when you have assigned new labels, and you have begun using positive coaching for difficult situations, you are now ready to put your trust in your child.

Here is what I mean. If you have a child who has had a habit of causing squabbles with siblings, put that child in charge of making sure the kids are behaving while playing a game. Give specific guidelines about what the rules are and allow your child to supervise. If you give that responsibility publicly and then leave the kids to their playtime, you have given your child a new label, you’ve done positive coaching, and now you’ve put real responsibility on your child to behave in an appropriate way. The child can’t claim that you were playing favorites or you weren’t being fair because you have put your child in charge. Give your child the opportunity to exercise self-control and prove that she is capable of making good choices, and your child is likely to surprise you both.

#5 Use rewards rather than punishments

Sometimes when you have a child who consistently breaks rules and gets into trouble, a parent’s natural tendency is to want to increase punishments. The thinking is that we will finally come upon a punishment that will be so negative that the child will stop the misbehavior. I have no problem with using negative consequences for misbehavior. In fact, I think it’s required for good parenting.

However, when you have a child who has gotten into a cycle of misbehaving and being punished evermore for each incident, you have to do something to break the cycle. In this type of situation, I recommend using rewards rather than punishment. So when your child does well in the situation that you have coached her for, or when your child has risen up to the responsibility that you have assigned to him, give that child a meaningful reward. If you aren’t sure what kind of reward to use, I suggest you read Motivational Mistakes Many Parents Make. Reward your child for good behavior and at least for the time being, drop punishments. Remember that not earning a reward is a punishment too.

#6 Study positive role models

Finally, if you have a troublemaking child in your family, I recommend that you study positive role models as a family. In no way should you call the child out for being a troublemaker, but instead attention should be drawn to the fact that each of us is a sinner and capable of behavior that displeases God.

   

My favorite strategy for this is to read books about difficult people who change. In the Bible, we have the apostle Paul. It’s hard to be worse in your behavior than the apostle Paul who was murdering Christians. I do recommend that you read that account and discuss how not one of us is a good person apart from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling us. The next book that I love on this topic is the biography of George Mueller by Youth With a Mission. George was a real stinker. Yet he became a great and generous man. Augustine, the Farmer’s Boy of Tagaste is another great true story of a troublemaker who changed. We want to communicate to our kids that we are not putting our hope in them because then we would have no hope at all. Instead, we are putting our hope into the Lord, who is the only one who can change hearts.

[Read How to Handle a Dawdling Homeschooler]

Conclusion

You can turn a troublemaker into a terrific kid by looking for the positives in praising your child. If your child responds to physical touch, give your child a pat on the back or a hug when you do this. Next, you want to assign new labels publicly. Praise your child’s positive traits in front of siblings, other family members, and even friends. You want to use positive coaching with your child. Talk about the tempting situation and your confidence that your child can manage himself well. Pray with your child for the Lord’s help, but pray a believing prayer. Next, you’re going to want to exercise trust in your child by assigning responsibility. Give your child the chance to show you that she can manage her behavior well in a previously difficult situation. You are going to want to emphasize rewards to motivate good behavior rather than punishments. You want to break the vicious cycle of a child believing that he can’t do anything right. And finally, you want to study positive role models as a family. Look in the Bible and consider YWAM biographies, many of which talk about a true transformation of a troublemaker to a terrific person.

Let me know in the comments which of these strategies you’re going to try first.

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How to Deal with a Dawdling Homeschooler

How to Deal with a Dawdling Homeschooler

Do you have a dawdling homeschooler who drags out their work all.day.long? If so, you have a number of options to consider to get your dawdler moving.

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#1 Use Motivators with Your Dawdler

One option is to use motivators to get your child to complete work in a timely manner. Read Motivational Mistakes Many Parents Make.

It is possible that you have a child who needs an external reward to finish work in a timely manner. That is particularly likely to be the case if the subject is one that your student doesn’t like or struggles to complete. One motivator that I particularly like for dawdlers is time for activities of that child’s choice. Rather then prescribing a particular use of time, give your child time to pursue any activity of interest as soon as she is done with school work. Your child is more likely to be motivated.

I have written about a quarterly, motivational planner that I created for my kids that takes advantage of this concept. We were nearing the end of the school year and I listed all of the work my kids had to get done in each subject in order for them to be done with school. I never saw them do work so quickly. You might adapt this quarterly planner for the week. You can also adapt it for the day and give your child the work that has to be completed before pursuing other activities. Make sure the work has been done to your standards.

#2 Cut Your Dawdler’s Work Down

The next way to deal with a dawdler is to cut the amount of work down. Many times when I hear a parent complain about their child dawdling, I find that the parent is using very detailed curriculum as written and is expecting the child to do all of the assigned exercises. Some parents are using multiple curricula for various subjects. If you have a child who is resisting, it is worth your while to determine if you are expecting too much.

Most curriculum is written to give lots of options to the teacher. The curriculum publisher isn’t necessarily expecting you to do every single exercise. What I learned from talking with public school teachers is they don’t complete everything in the curriculum they are using either. So, if you want a more motivated child who is not dawdling, you will want to eliminate some of the work. That might mean dropping a secondary curriculum that simply doesn’t need to be done. It might mean having your child do half of the exercises. It might mean dropping a subject for the whole school year. We don’t have to teach every single subject every single year.

If you aren’t sure if you are doing too much, please follow my best advice on this topic. That is to ask veteran homeschoolers. I have a Facebook group called the Homeschool Sanity Circle with many veteran homeschoolers who are happy to help you determine if you are expecting too much.

#3 Have Your Dawdler Evaluated

If you are using motivators and you’ve cut the work down to a reasonable amount and you still have a child who is dawdling, it may be time to have your child evaluated for a learning disability. No one wants to do things that they aren’t good at. Rather then be straightforward in admitting that they just don’t understand something or they just can’t do it, many kids prefer to appear resistant instead.

You can find resources for evaluation through your local homeschool support group. Homeschool support groups offer referrals to homeschool-friendly professionals who can tell you if your students is struggling with a learning disability. But it might make sense to have your child’s vision or hearing evaluated as well. In that case, your pediatrician is not a bad place to start if you have a student who is struggling with schoolwork.

If you learn that your child has a learning disability, then it is time to look for resources for that particular learning difference. And that includes looking for curriculum best suited for your child’s particular needs. Every effort should be made to talk to the child about how common the the learning difference is. Even if your child doesn’t have a formal learning disability, your student could benefit from a different approach to learning the subject. If you have an auditory or hands-on learner, adjust your curriculum.

#5 Give Your Dawdler Formal Class Periods

I talk to many homeschooling parents who expect their child to work independently, completing all of their subjects. When that isn’t working for you, consider having a subject-based time. Here is what I mean. I would have all of my kids sitting around a table working on math at the same time. That allowed for the social pressure of actually doing math. I liken it to going to the gym and feeling like you’d like to be on your phone instead of lifting weights, but you feel really uncomfortable about doing that when everyone else is working out. So use that positive social pressure to get your kids working on that particular subject in a group.

The other thing having a class period allows you to do is walk from student to student, making sure that each person is making progress. You can provide help and encouragement where needed. This approach will save you so much time. You won’t have to nag each student about getting work done. And you won’t have to have individual sessions for each subject with all of your kids.

#5 Give Your Dawdler One-On-One Tutoring

However, my last suggestion for dealing with a dawdling homeschooler is to use one-on-one tutoring. I sometimes find that parents expect young students or students with certain personalities to be completely independent in their work when that isn’t feasible or optimal. We homeschool so that we can provide an education for our kids that is suited to them as individuals. It’s rewarding to teach our kids directly and to have that special one-on-one time with them. Believe me, that time will come to an end all too quickly!

I couldn’t get my son to use an independent art curriculum. So I made it an art class that I participated in and the problem was solved.

Conclusion

If you have a dawdler, use motivators, cut the work down, have an evaluation for learning disabilities, set up class periods, or provide one-on-one tutoring. I’m confident that one or more of these strategies will help your dawdler become a little more driven to learn.

Which of these strategies will you try first in dealing with a dawdler? What else have you tried that has worked? Comment and let me know.

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Motivational Mistakes Many Parents Make

Motivational Mistakes Many Parents Make

Are you struggling to motivate your homeschooler? If so, you may be making one of these key motivational mistakes. Correct them and get the motivated student you want.

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Mistake #1: Not using rewards to motivate

The first mistake many parents make when thinking about motivation is that they shouldn’t have to use rewards to motivate good behavior. I frequently have a parent raise this concern with me when I am speaking at conventions. The idea is our children should just behave well without any special incentive. Kids should just do their chores, their schoolwork, and follow the rules out of the goodness of their hearts.

First of all, let me say that I believe in this ideal as well. I just accept that it will not occur while we are still in the flesh and living on this earth. Before I go any further with my explanation for why we must use rewards to teach good behavior, allow me to offer this disclaimer. There are a certain number of expectations we can have of our kids that can be trained without offering any reward other than thanks and praise. For example, I have never offered my children any type of word for putting their dishes into the dishwasher. This is just behavior that is expected in our family. My kids also have responsibilities like helping me unload and putting away groceries that they don’t receive any rewards for. But the longer the list of expected behaviors that will not receive an outside reward, the more likely you’re going to have a child who resists.

“The longer the list of expected behaviors that will not receive an outside reward, the more likely you’re going to have a child who resists.”

Parents who come to hear me teach on motivating their kids typically have a child who is resisting a desired behavior. In that case, it is the equivalent of beating our heads against the wall to insist that the child should change without any incentive. Again, that would be lovely. But if you have not been successful in changing the child’s behavior without rewards, in my opinion, it is time to use them. Here’s why.

Every behavior, especially those that we do repeatedly, is being rewarded. You might not see the rewards, but they are there. Why do you do the things that you habitually do? There is a reward in there somewhere. It might be as simple as having peace of mind for tracking your child’s work. You don’t have to have any anxiety about your records being reviewed if you’re tracking. If you constantly find yourself spending more time on social media than you planned, you can be sure you are being rewarded for your time. You’re receiving compliments, likes, or laughs. Children are no different. As normal human beings, our kids will pursue activities that are rewarding. God designed us to seek rewards.

We have to use rewards to train behaviors that have not developed naturally. So as part of your family routine, if you still have a child who is not making his bed, getting his math done, or playing nicely with his sister, these are the kinds of behaviors we can use rewards to train. That does not mean that we have to use rewards forever. Eventually the natural rewards of the behavior will take root. In the best case, good habits will form and no rewards will be required.

Using rewards also does not mean that you cannot address a child’s heart. We always want to be memorizing Scripture having to do with service and selflessness. We want to read stories about people who have modeled those characteristics. We want to encourage one another to honor God and others with our behavior. But that heart training does not preclude the use of rewards. I hope I have made a good case for using rewards to shape behavior that thus far has not been developed.

Mistake #2: Not using money as a reward

The second mistake many parents make is not using money as a reward. Not every child is motivated by money, but many, many of them are. Some of the same parents who frown upon using rewards to train good behavior also look down on money as a reward, as though it’s an unethical approach. I want to clarify before I continue that money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is the root of all evil. We are not leading kids to evil by giving them money and using money as a motivator. In fact, money is very useful in the kingdom of God. God uses money to accomplish his purposes.

The issue of the the goodness of money put aside, using money as a reward becomes an amazing opportunity to teach kids to manage money well. Children who do not have money of their own are likely to struggle when they are out of our homes and having to make financial decisions.

I have felt fortunate that all of my children are very motivated by money. Here is how I have used money as a motivator in our home. I have included money as a list of potential rewards that I use in my random iPhone app. It is one of the potential rewards that my kids can choose when I catch them doing something above and beyond what is expected. Most often my kids will choose the money.

I have managed my kids’ money digitally because I have six of them. I would need as much cash as a bank to manage it with paper. Cash can also be lost or stolen. I have used apps that have automatically added a child’s allowance to their account on my phone and automatically removes their tithes. The app also allowed me to use a fine as a consequence for misbehavior and my kids could see me deduct the money from their accounts. Invariably they would become very very upset about this, which is exactly what you want them to experience. I have noticed in paying my kids for work or as a reward for good behavior that they have developed frugal spending habits. All of my kids seem to be interested in conserving the funds that they have. That includes my son, who has a career and his own place. Consider these apps for managing your kids’ money from your phone.

I have heard some money experts say that you never give your kids money for chores. I’m not really sure what the rationale is for that except they want kids to know that doing chores is just a part of being a member of the family. I do agree that chores are an expected part of being a member of your family, but I don’t see that paying your child for completing them will interfere with that idea. I gave my kids and allowance that was not connected to specific chores. But I don’t see anything wrong with paying for individual chores, especially if you are having trouble getting kids to do those particular chores without your constant supervision. Our family has chosen to give payments for mowing the lawn as separate from the weekly allowance. Just a side note that we stop giving an allowance as soon as kids are old enough to do the lawn mowing or have another job like babysitting.

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Mistake #3: Using motivators that work for you and not your child

So far we’ve covered that you should be willing to use rewards to train good behavior and if your child is interested in money as a reward, you should be willing to use it. There are some great benefits of that. And that leads me to mistake number three that parents make in trying to motivate their kids. That mistake is using motivators that work for you and not for your child.

Let me give you some personal examples. My husband is very motivated by the desire to appear to be a hard-working and fit person. He would be getting to the gym as soon as someone suggested that he had been slacking off on his workouts, for example. He has sometimes made the mistake of thinking that our kids are motivated in that same way. They’re not. Well, maybe some of them are. I am motivated by praise. If you tell me how amazing I am when I do something for you, I am likely to work even harder on your behalf. But I have kids who are not motivated by other people’s praise, including mine.

Instead of treating your children like they are you, you need to do some detective work to determine what motivates your kids. I will give you a couple of ideas to get you started. First, pay attention to what your child asks for. If your child is always asking for more game time, a certain snack, or to have a sleepover, then you have a built-in motivator. Next, what does your child spend a lot of time doing? Do you have a child who loves Legos? Then Lego kits might be a fantastic motivator. And finally, what is your child really good at? We are motivated to do things that we feel very competent at. When other people praise something in your child and it’s just enjoyable for other reasons, and this is a potential motivator.

Motivation Mistake #4: Not depriving the child of the motivator

Once you have a potential motivator, you are at risk of motivational mistake number four. That is, not depriving your child of that motivator. If your child has thousands of dollars in the bank and you never require your child to pay for any of his own things, like snacks when you’re out or movie tickets or things like that, why would your child be motivated to earn more money? Only when your child experiences a relative deprivation of the desired reward will your child be willing to work for it. This just makes sense. If you try to use candy to reward a child who is stuffed, you won’t be surprised when the child says no, thank you. Depriving your child of a motivator means she doesn’t get unlimited access to the motivator and gets extra access when the desired behavior has been completed.

The problem with deprivation is most kids who haven’t been deprived will whine and pitch fits to try to get you to relent. Here’s what I mean. Perhaps you decide you’re going to use screen time as a reward. If the reality is that your child gets to have screen time all the time because you are not setting limits and cutting off the screen time like you you said you were going to, there is no reason for your child to work for extra screen time. When you do set limits and say no screen time until your chores are done, and you’re not willing to put up with the whining that your child is likely to do, you will not be able to motivate your child. This is the number one reason training of new behavior fails. Many parents will say nothing works, nothing motivates this child, when the real problem is there has been no deprivation or there’s been an unwillingness of the parents to stand their ground in the face of fits.

Motivational Mistake #5: Not consistently rewarding the behavior at the beginning of training

The fifth mistake that parents who are seeking to motivate their kids make is not consistently rewarding the behavior at the beginning. So you are going to give your child game time and you have the Wi-Fi turned off, for example, and Junior has just finished his math homework. He comes to you and he wants you to turn the Wi-Fi back on. Well, you are in the middle of a phone call or you are cleaning out the refrigerator and you don’t want to be bothered with that. If you don’t very, very quickly reward the positive behavior as soon as possible after it is completed, and if you do that consistently where you’re not rewarding right away at the beginning of training, you won’t get the results you want. When your child is learning and developing a new behavior, they need to know they will be rewarded when it’s completed. And this just makes sense. You would not keep working for a company that delayed paying you when you were first working for them. It is very important at the beginning of training to stop what you’re doing and deliver the reward right away.

Motivational Mistake #6: Not making sure the desired behavior has been done

The sixth motivational mistake parents make is not making sure that the behavior has been done. So let’s go back to the example of you cleaning out the refrigerator when Junior says he has his math done. You correctly turn the Wi-Fi on right away for him, but if you didn’t make sure that the math was actually done and done with integrity, you will not be training the behavior that you want to train. Instead, Junior will realize that he can pull one over on you anytime he wants. So if we truly want to train good behavior in our kids, we have to take the time to make sure that our desired behavior has been done and done to our standards. Likewise, if your daughter says the bathroom is clean and you just take her word for it and you give her the reward, you are going to be very unhappy and you’re not going to have a well trained daughter when it comes to cleaning the bathroom.

Conclusion

To summarize how you can avoid these motivational mistakes:

  • Make the decision that you are going to use rewards to train good behavior in your children when they aren’t naturally occurring.
  • Be willing to use money as a motivator if your child responds well to it.
  • Next, look for motivators that work for your child and not necessarily for you. That would include things that he asked for, things that she consistently does, and things that your child is good at.
  • Be committed to depriving your child of the motivator to an extent that your child is eager to perform the behavior and get the reward. That means that you’re willing to put up with whining and fits for as long as it takes to train the behavior.
  • Be willing also to consistently reward the new behavior right away at the beginning of training. Drop what you’re doing and provide the reward…
  • But not before you have made sure that the behavior has been done to your standards.

You do not have to make these common mistakes in motivating your child. You’ll not only be improving your life by training your child in this way, but you’ll be improving your child’s life. Kids who have been trained well will go on to have much more rewarding lives as adults.

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How to Trust God with Your Marriage or Single Parenting

How to Trust God with Your Marriage or Single Parenting

Trusting God with our marriage or with life as a single parent is our project for this month.

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Trusting God with Kids: Progress Report

As usual, I’d like to begin by talking about how trusting God went last month. Our topic was trusting God with our kids. My daughter did not develop whooping cough, but she did get another diagnosis that we are praying will be treated effectively. I also had to trust my teen driver to get this same daughter to volleyball camp with a 40-minute drive in rush hour. And I always have to trust God with the choices my adult kids make.

This project has made a big difference in my anxiety level and has decreased the time I spend worrying. I pray that it is helping you too. I read a wonderful devotion in My Weakness for His Strength, Volume 2 by Michael Wells this morning. Michael wrote that the world attempts to brainwash us night and day that there is no God and even if there is, He does nothing on our behalf. We have to resist these lies by renewing our minds. That’s what the Trust Project is all about.

Why Trust God with Your Marriage or Single Parenting?

The first question to answer using your Trust Project printables is what are the benefits of trusting God with our marriage or with single parenting?

I know I will have a much happier marriage and much less stress. My faith in God will grow as I see the Lord working in and through my husband.

What Will Be Different if You Trust God with Your Marriage or Single Parenting?

Next, what will you stop and start doing if you are trusting God in this area? I will stop the compulsion to remind my husband to put safety first. I will believe that God is in control of my husband’s life and wellbeing. I will start praying for my husband more. I will add his safety and faith to my prayer list.

The next question is what would trusting God with marriage or single parenting look like? For me, it would mean telling my husband to have a good time on his outings without a safety reminder. It would mean entrusting Him to God in prayer. It would mean believing that God gives me guidance through my husband’s decisions.

Marriage and Single Parenting: TRUST

Now let’s move into our TRUST acronym. T is for truth. What is the truth about God and marriage or single parenting? Our Scripture to meditate on is 1 John 4:16:

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Whether we are single or married, God loves us. We can rely on that. He will work all things together for our good. Our biblical account is from 1 Samuel 25. This is about Abigail who was in an unhappy marriage. She keeps David from avenging himself on her husband. She says something remarkable to him:

“The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live.”

The respect she pays him and the belief in him had to have bowled David over. We know that when the Lord took her husband’s life, David married her. We can trust God to care for us even if our husbands aren’t trustworthy.

The next part of truth is addressing lies we believe in this area. One lie that I think both singles and married women believe is that we won’t make it without a husband.

I had a single friend whose car broke down. She prayed aloud. “Lord, You are my husband. If I had an earthly husband, he would take care of this car for me. But I don’t, so it’s all on You.” You can imagine what happened. The Lord sent kindly men to get her back on the road.

Another lie I’ve believed is that God only works through me and not my husband. In other words, there are some truths that only I have been privileged to understand. While it is true that my husband has made mistakes — don’t we all — I know I can trust God to protect me while I am under my husband’s leadership. Whenever I doubt this, I think of poor Sara who found herself in a Pharoah’s harem because of her husband’s decision. She was not only delivered but praised for continuing to honor her husband.

The R in TRUST is for remembering. How has God proved Himself trustworthy in your marriage or singlehood? There was a time in my marriage when I felt that I was destined to stay unhappy. I was so miserable because of the circumstances (and to honor my husband, I want to make it clear that he had not been unfaithful). I had no other option but to cry out to the Lord for help in changing my heart. That prayer was answered in less than a day. My love for my husband and my happiness were supernaturally restored.

The U in TRUST is for understanding. What has God made clear that you should do with respect to your marriage or singlehood? When my husband drives, I already know that I need to stop “bracing for impact” as he calls it.  I have to pay him respect, even when he does something I disagree with.

The S in TRUST is for supplication. We pray for our needs to be met, apart from a relationship. We ask how we can serve God and our spouse better. And, of course, we pray for our spouses, believing that God hears our prayers for their faith, health, success, and relationships. We can ask for our husbands’ prayer requests. And we can make time to pray together. The divorce rate for couples who pray together is very, very low.

The final T in TRUST is for thanksgiving. Take time today to thank God for His provision in your single parenting or for your husband. I hear from moms all the time who are unhappy with their husbands’ traits that are so different from their own. But God puts opposite strengths together all the time with good reason. Thank God for that. Thank God for all the blessings He has given to your man. I am so thankful that the stroke my husband this March was not severe and that he is recovering.

The T in thanksgiving is also to remind us to thank those who protect and care for us, spouses included. When I was a single woman in college, an older gentleman from my church would come and get my car and have it serviced for me.  What a blessing! I thanked him for his help with a sincere heart. But I am reminded today that I need to thank my husband for all the things he does for me and our family. I hope you’ll do the same.

Trust God with your singlehood or with your marriage. He is worthy of our trust. Next month, we’ll talk about trusting God with finances. So get all your worry about money out now. Just kidding!

Which is a bigger struggle for you: trusting God with your kids or your marriage? Comment and let me know.

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How to Trust God with Your Kids: The Trust Project

How to Trust God with Your Kids: The Trust Project

If you have been engaged in the Trust Project with me, you’ll love this month’s focus: kids.

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Trusting God with Health & Safety: Review

Before we dive into the topic of trusting God with our kids, let’s talk about how trusting God with health and safety went.

If you suddenly had all kinds of reasons to fear for your health and safety,

you’re doing something right.

If you have no challenges in this area, you won’t grow your faith. You won’t learn to trust God more if everything is going well.

This last month, I had a number of troubling physical symptoms. I also frequently had to ride in the car with my husband at the wheel. Did I perfectly trust God? No. But did I grow in my trust? Yes! I would say dramatically so. I kept thinking about the Trust Project as my top priority. It kept me from fretting, researching dread diseases,, and signaling to my husband that he was about to kill us all.

One thing I learned last month is that I needed to make an addition to our Trust Project and the printables I created to go along with it. If you’re a subscriber, you automatically received these updated forms in your inbox. If you’re not a subscriber, you can request to be by clicking the button below.

What is the needed addition? First, we need to ask ourselves the benefits of trusting God in each area. What are the benefits of trusting God with my kids? I will have far less anxiety. I can enjoy good times without them being sullied by worry. My kids will feel more confident and have more trust in God too. They won’t be annoyed by my unnecessary worry. What benefits will you gain by trusting God with your kids?

The next addition is to ask ourselves what we will stop and start doing if we are trusting God in this area. With my kids, I will start assuming that my kids are safe. I will assume that God will guide them and protect them. I will believe the best about them and for them. I will stop believing that they will have an accident or be crime victims or will make poor choices. I will believe that my kids are in God’s hands and that that is safer for them than being in my hands. What will you stop doing with respect to your kids?

Finally, I have added a section for us to ask ourselves what trusting God in this area would look like. For me, it would look like praying about my kids instead of worrying about my kids. It would look like enjoying them and my times away from them without worry. It would look like peace in knowing that if God wants me to act, He will make that clear. That last part makes me emotional. The enemy wants us to believe that our kids will die or make a terrible, life-altering choice and it will be all our fault. This feeds into the worrying and the hovering, doesn’t it?

Truth in Trusting God with Our Kids

Now let’s move into our TRUST acronym. T is for truth. What is the truth about God and our kids? Our Scripture to meditate on is Matthew 18:10: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Did you catch that? Our kids have angels in heaven watching over them and protecting them. Of course, God is also watching over them, but in His lovingkindness, He has also given our beloved children into the care of these heavenly beings. These angels will prevent accidents, crime, and even self-harm when we aren’t there. What a wonderful image!

Our biblical account is from Mark 10:13-16:

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

God loves our kids so much, more than we do. What a reassuring truth that is.

The next part of truth is addressing lies we believe in this area. One of the lies I’ve believed is that God will take one or more of my children from me to make me better or stronger. That belief comes from the lie that God is really not good. It IS true that my kids may go to heaven before I do. But it won’t be because God is callously trying to make me a better person. That’s a lie. If God does permit any of my kids to die prematurely, I can know that He has a good purpose, that it is not to harm me or my child. And I can know that His grace and strength would allow me to survive that loss. I don’t have to prepare for that day that may never come. I’ll have all the grace when I need it.

Remembering in Trusting God with Our Kids

The R in TRUST is for remembering. How has God proved Himself trustworthy with your kids? I made so many mistakes with my kids’ safety when they were babies. I left a knife in the dishwasher that my baby grabbed and cut himself with, for example. But God has delivered my kids from accidents of their own making, too. My 22-year-old had a biking accident that fractured his skull near the base of his neck. It could have killed or paralyzed him, but it did not. My college son needed an internship this summer and was having trouble finding one. I had no time to help him. I gave it to the Lord. Sure enough, he has one!

Understanding in Trusting God with Our Kids

The U in TRUST is for understanding. In some cases, we already understand what the Lord’s will is. We just need to act on it. As I write, I have just learned that my daughter was exposed to whooping cough. I don’t know if she will develop it, but I know what the treatment is. If she develops symptoms, we’ll get her to the doctor and we’ll trust God for her healing. Worrying about it isn’t trusting God.

Supplication in Trusting God with Our Kids

The S in TRUST is for supplication. We pray. I have my kids on a regular rotation in my prayer app. I pray for their faith, their work, their studies, their health, and their relationships. We can also ask others to pray. When I found out about the whooping cough exposure, I immediately asked friends to pray.

Thanksgiving in Trusting God with Our Kids

The final T in TRUST is for thanksgiving. I have to tell you a story about a dear older friend of mine. One of her children (her only son) died of cancer when he was just 16. The Lord has sustained her through that loss in a supernatural way. But two weeks after he had died, she found one of his shirts in the laundry. She didn’t know why it would be there. She felt this spirit of darkness and despair descend on her. She recognized it and she refused it. She put her son’s shirt on and began to praise the Lord. Thanksgiving and praise can defeat the enemy’s lies about our children.

I am so thankful for my children’s health, faith, and family relationships. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I have been given the opportunity to be their mom, flawed and imperfect as I am. If I were to die today or all my children were taken home in one disaster, how could I, like Job, not give thanks to God for these blessed 23 year of parenting? Take time today to give thanks for the children you’ve been given.

I have many projects on my plate, as I’m sure you do. But I believe the Trust Project is the most important of all. I would love for you to share the project with the people you know who need to believe God for their deliverance and joy.

Next month, we’ll talk about trusting God with single parenting and marriage.

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CSI Science for Middle and High School Students: A Review

CSI Science for Middle and High School Students: A Review

If you are teaching middle or high school students, you know how challenging it can be to engage them in learning. I have written a review of what I think is the best science curriculum for homeschool students of any age. But I wanted an elective science curriculum that would capture the interest of my 13-17-year-olds. I believe I found that in what I’m calling CSI science from Crosscutting Concepts.

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I received a discount on the Small Class Edition PLUS Geared for Homeschooling and FACES software in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

What’s Included in the Science Kits from Crosscutting Concepts

The science kits from Crosscutting Concepts help your students solve the Lyle & Louise murder mystery.

The Small Class kit includes units on:

  • blood spatter analysis
  • forensic entomology
  • footprint analysis
  • blood detection and evidence processing
  • questioned document analysis
  • fingerprint analysis
  • bite marks analysis
  • glass fragment identification, and
  • drug testing and analysis

The Small Class PLUS kit also includes units on:

  • fire debris
  • gunshot residue
  • bullet striations

Kits include everything needed for 1-6 students to complete the experiments. Kits are designed for a one-semester class meeting five days a week. The teacher’s manual that includes the reading material and lab reports is available as a digital download, making it economical for multiple students.

FACES 3.0 software for Windows allows students to create composite drawings of suspects that can also be used to solve the murder mystery.

Our Fingerprint Analysis Unit Experience

After initially telling my teens about these forensic science kits and that I wanted to do at least one unit right away, my daughter was relentless in asking me to do it. That. is. crazy. Science or any school my 15-year-old is begging to do? I’m for that!

I printed the digital teacher’s manual for the fingerprint analysis unit and my daughter 3-hole punched it and put it in a binder for me. Yes, she was THAT motivated. The boys were curious and didn’t complain about starting.

I read them the mystery aloud. By the way, this is a murder involving an unfaithful spouse, so consider your child’s maturity and sensitivity with this. There are no sordid details, however.

I also read the history of fingerprinting analysis as well as the scientific material aloud to them, showing them the figures in the text. This material is to be read by students in preparation for class, but I (I mean my daughter) wanted to get the experiments going. It isn’t a lot of reading, but some of it is highly technical. In my opinion, those portions would overwhelm the average 5th-6th grader. In fact, Scott Moening (owner of Crosscutting Concepts) tells me the same materials are used in college classes.

Discussion questions and lab sheets checked for comprehension. My kids did okay with identifying fingerprint patterns, but I found it challenging. Visual-spatial skills aren’t my strength. I’m a verbal girl.

We took our fingerprints. I loved that the ink pad for this was included. Lab sheets are digital, so you can make as many copies as you need. But I will say my kids were not good at the fingerprinting technique. The lab sheets (had we completed them as written) would have taken a loooong time to complete. We completed them as a group effort.

We analyzed our fingerprints. We found it challenging to do this well. I wished there were an expert at hand to tell us what we were seeing. We were supposed to do a time-consuming numerical computation on our prints as well, which we honestly did not do. For me, it was like being asked to do long division with a calculator at hand. The numerical computation is the old-school approach. However, I was glad to have the history and the information about how it was done. It made the unit feel very meaty and thorough.

We lifted our fingerprints. We learned about how forensic experts extract fingerprints and this was the most interesting part for me. We added our prints to my picture window intentionally, but this honestly wasn’t necessary. There are ALWAYS prints on my window, even now that I don’t have toddlers. Come to think of it, I need to lift the prints next time to see who the culprit is! You can see the prints reflected on the newspaper on the left. We used dusting powder and hinged adhesive (included) to pull the prints from the window.

The class nature of the kit allows for some fun activities of matching prints to people. In the interest of time, we did not do this.

Finally, we used what we learned to evaluate the fingerprints obtained in the murder mystery. I won’t tell you what we determined. 🙂 Depending on what experiments we were doing going forward, the teacher’s guide suggests holding a mock trial in which the evidence is presented. We are not doing our regular co-op next year, but a mock trial would have been a blast with a group.

Our FACES Software Experience

I did not realize that the FACES composite drawing software is also used to solve the murder mystery until I printed the teacher’s guide. It is another week-long unit to use with the kit.

The version I have is for Windows. The program allows you to choose various facial features such as head shape, chin shape, nose type, wrinkles, scars, tattoos, and more. Everything can be resized. It’s the same type of software used by police to create a drawing of suspects.

We played a game with FACES. I used the software with my daughter–you know, the excited one. 🙂 We did the easiest level with it. We were shown a composite drawing for a few seconds and were then asked to recreate it using just a few options. In other words, just a few types of eyes and chins were given as options, making it much easier to recreate the drawing. We were given a score, and working together we did very well. This was fun and something I can see my kids spending time improving in. It requires both attention and an artist’s eye to do well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drew my husband with FACES. With all the facial feature options available to us, and even having my husband and his picture available, it was challenging to make the composite look a lot like him. We enjoyed working on it, though, and the software is easy to use. In fact, it’s fairly addictive. I kept saying we were done, but then I’d try again. If I didn’t have to finish this review, I’d be playing with it some more. 🙂

We did not complete the FACES unit. There is an entire teaching unit that goes along with the software that will be a lot of fun to do with my kids in the fall.

What I love about Crosscutting Concepts CSI Science for My Homeschooled Middle and High School Students

  • I’m interested in these forensic science kits. I was almost as excited to work with the kits as my daughter. When I’m interested, school gets done.
  • My kids are interested in learning forensic science. None of my kids complained about using these kits. That is HUGE.
  • Everything you need is there. I can’t stand hunting around for science supplies when I’m ready to get school done.
  • It’s story-based. Each set of experiments is connected to one murder mystery involving Lyle and Louise. As the author of a story-based language arts curriculum, I know how powerful that is in aiding learning.
  • It’s a unit study. I’ve always loved unit studies for gaining students’ interest, but many them are only suited for elementary students. These kits teach math, biology, chemistry, physics, genetics, entymology, history, art, and more in one fascinating set of units.
  • It has real-world application. Your kids cannot say that you’re teaching useless information. They’ll know more about crime investigations they hear about on the news. Using FACES software, they can learn to pay attention to detail and improve art skills. They can even create a composite drawing of a crime suspect at home! Finally, they might discover a new career path.

Crosscutting Concepts Forensic Science Kits Are Best Suited for:

  • Advanced middle schoolers and high schoolers on grade level
  • Reluctant and other students who are interested in crime scene investigation
  • Families with more than one student or homeschool co-ops
  • Teachers who are willing to do the experiments with students, instead of having students work independently
  • Families who can commit to doing experiments several times a week.
  • Families who can afford a higher-end science kit. Use code HOMESCHOOLSANITY for 10% off and free shipping. You can also purchase individual kits.

Conclusion

I love this curriculum. I feel that completing most of the material with my three kids will make for a fun, educational homeschool year. Hover over the products link at Crosscutting Concepts to find the kits best suited to your family. You can also contact the company on Facebook and Instagram if you have questions.

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