Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More on Patterns

I recently wrote a post about patterns. This photo has nothing to do with patterns, although a pattern showing the direction of the "y" might have been helpful... pre-glue. : )

But since fall seems to be tucking itself away to make room for winter festivities, I thought I would share this fall picture now. The card was made using a variety of leaves (aka. wonderful, free craft supplies) during our read aloud time. The backward "y" seems to add to it's endearing value. Of course, having a little 3 year old that wanted to pose herself by the pumpkins was pretty endearing as well. To me, it's a warm slice of "imperfect-perfect" pie. I hope you enjoy!

Because patterns seem to be a continual theme in my thinking lately, I wanted to share a few more examples related to household patterns.

Patterns of training, patterns of consistency, patterns of joy.

Recently I had a great talk with a mom I respect about consistency in her home. They had quite a year of trial this year and consistency had just flown out the window. That happens sometimes, doesn't it?

To create a new pattern, their family launched a game plan formally writing out rules and their consequences. And it has worked beautifully. The parents and the children all know the family rules and what the consequences are for breaking them. With a formal list of rules, the pattern always changes from: you made mom or dad upset enough that you will face discipline this time; to: I'm sorry you broke our family rule, this is the consequence you have chosen.

What really struck me was their clever use of consequences. For example, let's say a child says something unkind to a sibling. According to their rules chart, the child must take a swig of apple cider vinegar (bitter... but actually good for them) to remind them of the bitterness they are expressing with their words, then the child is tasked with doing an act of service for the child they treated unkindly. They are coupling a consequence for breaking a family rule with an act of service to help build a new pattern. Consequence and positive pattern building. I love that.

There is no frustration required on the parents part and the children are being guided and taught biblical principles in a way that will stick. Because our goal is to teach them right patterns, not to merely dish out consequence. Do you ever forget that? I think we all do from time to time.

To share a challenge from our own home, we presently have a cute little one who has begun to struggle with using a fussy attitude to express herself when upset. Do you ever wake up and realize there is a pattern happening right under your nose that you have allowed, but is not really acceptable? Let's just say, I just woke up to this one.

I can't tell you who it is of course. I'll just say that she might like to pose with signs that include backward "y"s near pumpkins. That's it~ you'll need to use your own imagination beyond that.

Anyway, in this case, our plan has been not to reward a fussy attitude~ ever. Whenever there is fussing, we put on the brakes; calmly require the little one to restate her problem or concern and to ask for what she needs in the correct way. We will not reward fussiness or get escalated ourselves. Our goal is to demonstrate that we are willing to help but cannot until she expresses herself in a way that is appropriate.

This is a teaching process. She is realizing it takes much longer to get her way if she fusses. It's not adversarial. But retraining and building positive patterns. It requires consistency and... well more consistency.

If we forsake consistency in our homes we are creating unhappy, angry souls that disregard our instruction. The children will be unhappy because their lives are full of strife. We cannot praise them, others cannot praise them and their own consciences convict them.

Our consistency (handled in a calm, matter of fact way) will train them to respect our authority. We are able to praise them and they will be be our joy rather than a constant dripping.

Whatever you call it: consistency, training, or creating new patterns, it takes a plan. Since only God knows the heart, I would encourage you to make this an issue of prayer. Ask Him to show you areas in which poor patterns have developed and ask Him what consequences would be wise for your family.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." ~Psalm 94:17

"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." ~Proverbs 29:15

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." ~James 1:5

May God richly bless you as you lead little hearts home!



  1. Would you consider posting a list of those rules and consequences? It would be so helpful.

  2. Great question. I'll ask her. : )

  3. This post is coming at just the right time for me! We are having some struggles here and this may be just what we need. (And a reminder to the mommy is always good too!)

    Oh, and I, too, would love to see the rules and consequences if your friend is willing to share!

  4. Hi ladies!

    This is from our friend:

    "I will tell you that the chart is from doorposts. Here’s a link to the product and we love EVERYTHING we have from them!


    Another product we used when our olders were littles was this from the Clarkson whom I love as well:


    From ME:

    I would also add that for those with young ones that are not struggling with all of the issues listed on the Doorpost "if-then" chart, consider making your own chart with the rules that apply to your family. That's what we have done in the past. No need to give little ones ideas of things they aren't struggling with, right? : )

    And MOST IMPORTANTLY, we have found that adding rules and consequences must always be coupled with the tying of heart strings. Neither can be in isolation. If we aren't connecting sweetly with our babes our rules will be less effective. The two go together. They must sense that all you are doing is motivated by wanting the best for them.

    Grace and peace to you!