I have a daughter who has special needs who we home school. I had an appointment with a financial advisor today and needed to take her with me, so I packed an mp3 player and headphones and we made it part of a fun trip into town. I didn’t promise her anything for good behaviour (I try not to do this, because I think it encourages children to mainly be good if there is a reward). In the appointment she fidgeted a bit and also looked at the computer screen at one point to look at the various mortgages on offer. On the way out the advisor said ‘I wish every child was as well behaved as your daughter’. I was so surprised, but held it together enough to say thank you very much.
Why was I surprised? Well, her behaviour can be like the Sunday visit our family made to Orchard Baptist before they employed me and my daughter said ‘I hope they die’ very loudly when I picked another child to take part in a game in the service. Or there was the time earlier this morning when she hit her sister and had kicked me when I was trying to sort it out. My wife and I love our daughter and we make allowances for her behaviour whilst putting a lot of thought and effort into helping her to manage her own behaviour well.
As we walked through town and bought some chips for lunch (see, there was a treat) I wondered what my expectations of my daughter are. She is doing so much better on the whole but her behaviour can be volatile. My prayer is that I would continue to see and celebrate the good in her life. It also occurred to me that being positive with someone is better than being negative. It’s easy to snap at our children and be hard on them, but I think it’s more effective to parent positively and it also means that when we do occasionally have to be harsh in the way we speak that it has a greater effect.
How about you? Do you know someone who has challenging behaviour? What are your expectations of them? Is the way that you treat them helping or hindering them changing for the good? What positive things can you do to help them change? Have you prayed for them? God is in the recycling (of people that is) business and he hasn’t finished with any of us yet.