Guest Post by Crystal of Intentional Homemaker
Wiggle, fidget, trip to the bathroom.
The nurse finally calls us back to the exam room.
Sudden shyness. More wiggling.
The nurse tells us the doctor will be in in a few minutes.
Now, he’s standing on the chairs looking at pictures on the wall. Laying down on the exam table. Sitting up kicking his feet. Walking around the room. Lots of questions. Restless.
I tell him to sit still. To kneel on the chairs not stand. To stay off the exam table. To sit quietly and wait.
And then I realize… he’s nervous, he’s wary, he’s anxious.
Why has it taken me the last hour to figure this out? I’m not sure.
I remember that it’s a new clinic, a new doctor, a new experience. I realize that he’s worried about the “owie” on his finger and that he’s wondering what the doctor will do and say.
And, I then I get it. He’s acting his age. It’s with effort that I’m waiting patiently for the doctor, that I’m not wiggling in my chair or pacing around the room, and I know the routine. I have a good idea of what’s coming next.
I’ve met the doctor. And, I’m still restless.
I’m 32. He’s 5. Five.
With my new realization fresh in my mind, I stop telling him to sit still. I stop reminding him to kneel instead of stand. I let him wiggle around on the exam table – up and down, up and down – walk around the room.
Then, I take him on my lap and remind him that Jesus tells us not to worry, but to instead think about things that are good and true (Philippians 4:6-8).
I talk to him again about what may happen. What the doctor will most likely do and say. Then, I help him think about other things, engage him in a game of “I Spy” of sorts. And, he starts to settle down.
He becomes less restless, more patient, more relaxed.
As a mom, I need to instruct and discipline because I am responsible for teaching our children qualities like self-control and patience. But, as part of this instruction, I need to be thinking not only about the behavior of our children, but also about what’s causing this behavior, because it’s the cause that I need to be dealing with first.
For the first half of our doctor visit, I was so focused on JW’s behavior that I missed the cause.
How to sit quietly and be patient is something that he must learn, but without addressing the cause of that behavior, my instruction wasn’t as effective as it should have been.
After I realized that he was fearful and anxious, I was able to reassure him. To remind him of what the Bible says about fear. To inform him of what was coming up next. And, to help him focus his thoughts on other things.
This wasn’t a discipline issue, but it works similarly in that instance, too. The behavior comes out of what’s in the heart of the child, and both issues must be dealt with in order to be effective in helping the child learn and grow.
What a reminder to me as a mom, and all from 90-minute visit to the doctor!
So often I find myself getting wrapped up in simply addressing the behavior and completely overlooking the motivation behind it. I love Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Ted Tripp) and Don’t Make Me Count to Three (Ginger Plowman).
Being a mom is a humbling and learning experience. I can’t believe how much I continue to learn about myself and my faith through it. I am so grateful for resources like these that make the journey a tiny bit easier; that help equip me to be a better mom, closer to my children and closer to God.
What is your experience with getting to the cause of a child's behavior?
Crystal is married to Jarvis and is a stay-at-home mama to four young children. She blogs at Intentional Homemaker where she encourages moms to grow as godly women and to be conscious homemakers.
So good! I needed that reminder! Thanks!
Excellent post! Too often I only focus on the behavior rather than pondering the motivation and dealing with that, too. Thank you for this well-written post.
I love this post! I am a Mom of three and keep children also. So important to read the message they don’t even know how to decode. To help them find peace in their little heart so often starts with watching and understanding without critical judgement. Thank you for that.
This was so sweetly written. Thank you for this reminder and for tips on being a better parent.