Kids in the House: Changing A Child’s Set Role in the Family


Children start to define their role in the family between the ages of zero and five. And it happens very quietly and without us knowing as parents that it’s going on. If you have a child who is very quiet and easy, you start to define that child. “Oh, she’s the quiet one.” And then you have a busy little one who’s wiggling all the time then you start to use words, “Oh, this one can’t sit still” or “this one’s always moving.” And suddenly, the children start to grow into those labels that we’ve created, and problems arise. Pretty soon you have a 3-5-7 year old who’s wiggly who’s now getting up from the table, can’t sit still in school and you can’t bring them to church and there’s all kinds of trouble. And a parent will say “wait-wait-wait, there’s more to this child than that. But how do I let him know that there’s more to him than just being the wiggly disruptive kid?” And it really comes down to finding the language and what I call shining a spotlight on those times when your child is something other than the wiggly disruptive kid. And there are a million times a day when that child is being something other than that. But we’ve focused in on the thing that drives us crazy, and that’s all we’ve noticed. So as parents, when we’ve decided that a role a child has adopted might not be good for them, it’s our job to look deeper and say, “what else do I know about this kid? What other strengths and talents does this kid have that I’ve overlooked because I’ve been focused on something negative?” And through the course of a day, you very quietly start to shine the spotlight on those moments when he’s behaving like a responsible, cooperative, focused, compassionate, understanding, hilarious kid, and suddenly he has a new role in the family.

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