As the weeks went by, I prayed for a creative way to improve the situation at home once again. It had been a tough and stressful Sept through Oct. Maybe the heat and haze has gotten into our systems. The boys had also required a greater level of tolerance from this thinning in patience Mum.
I was mulling over how to create a positive note at the end of the day by focusing on the good that everyone has done instead of being sapped by the quarrels and strife among the siblings, not to mention end with some hope for a discouraged mum. In the past, I had tried using a reward system where once kids DO NOT fight or yell at each other, they will get a Victory stick (ice cream stick) Each stick has a sticker with an icon representing the rewards. I did a chart where there were 3 slots – Morning session, Afternoon session and Evening. After each session, I will indicate with a tick and give them their Victory sticks at the end of the day.
Examples of their rewards range from a simple sweet (I know there are schools of thoughts on not using food as a reward, but in my case I have a Great variety of rewards instead of merely food) / a favourite drink/ a small item from a reward box like stationery or stickers/ get to view tv for 10mins/ choice of food they want mum to cook for them etc. These were short term rewards. There was also Long Term rewards where they could choose to accumulate their Victory Sticks and exchange for a bigger reward. For instance, 20 Victory Sticks to the library and have their favourite Subway treat. We brainstormed on what rewards they would appreciate and worked on them. I found that worked for a period of time. It was tedious but a necessary phase for us apart from the usual disciplines I adhere and plenty of Praying and learning of God’s Words. I felt it was necessary to help them visualise and have a tangible way of learning self control through such means of rewards. I noticed a significant improvement in our attitudes and spirits as each day we ended with a ‘Victorious’ note. It helped me understand the power of God and how we need to redirect our hearts to bring out the best in others. It was a revelation to me that what upset and angered me in the day, was just a minor fraction to all the good that they’ve done! It took away a lot of my frustrations as I gave out their Victory Sticks since we were actively observing the ABSENCE of Negative behaviour.
This system of reward lasted for a good three to four months and slowly the kids’ behaviour had improved so much, we used less and less of that chart. In the end, I encouraged them to see how they have grown and can now learn how to do without any rewards since it’s now becoming a habit not to fight with each other. That was last year when I had this significant trial in my life which you can read HERE.
This time round, interestingly a year from the last reward system, I embarked on a different quest. They’ve been squabbling and fighting here and there, recently a more intense situation arose which involved the school. As I sat in my boy’s class observing how he behaved, the scales of my eyes dropped after I prayed through and confided in my hubby. I have to ACCEPT him as who he is while helping him to grow and improve in his area of weaknesses. Now I do not view his actions as mere defiance but an innate personality at work. Having said that, I also believe in the power of our Sovereign God who can through the Holy Spirit work in US to grow to be more temperate and loving like Jesus. It is a delicate balance of acceptance and learning the spiritual disciplines in God.
Now, it’s a new stage of growth where our faith are stretched and tested. I was reminded to place Faith , Hope and Love as our theme for learning.
Faith to believe and trust in God to grow in our relationship with Him.
Hope to set our hearts on the Everlasting God who gave us Eternal Life.
Love to dwell in when He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.
Initially, it was how the kids have been obedient to mum for certain matters. Now, it is spending more time searching deeper into matters of the hearts that we can relate to in terms of the above virtues.
On One particular day, A was given 2 stars of Love for
1) taking care of lil sister at the playground while mum is at a nearby shop getting something. 2) willingly and patiently waiting for J and E to play at another Playground despite feeling weary. He had waited at a seating area.
A was also given 1 star of Faith and Hope for accepting and trusting mum’s words and waving goodbye to the stranger who had offended him
J was given 1 star of Love for being so sweet to mum by picking flowers for her since she likes them. Another star of Faith and Hope where he prayed to ask God to help us find his army toys for his cake decoration as well as asked for good weather on his outdoor BBQ Birthday Party. The star of Faith and Hope was answered.
The first was literally answered in a way beyond our expectations. I was hoping to get the toys at Changi Airport since I searched Toys R Us and couldn’t find. God provided through a friend who said she got them as Jo’s present! This was a timely conversation made while I was feverishly still searching for the toys. (It was just 2 days before his birthday) On J’s birthday, it was nothing short of a miracle as we witnessed how God graciously held the storm during our whole party with gloomy clouds and threatening lightning. Majority of the guests had left then it started to pour heavily while we were packing! We were filled with thanksgiving on our answered prayers!
E had 2 stars of Faith and Love. 1) Respecting and trusting A to take care of her at the playground. 2) Offering her marker to J when J’s marker had run out of ink.
As we took time each night to fill out these stars, our hearts slowly began to soften and we see how God is working in our lives. Most importantly, it helped me end each day with a heart of thanksgiving and a tangible reminder to press on in Faith, Hope and Love.
I recycled the wrapping papers we had and cut them into long strips. That’s where I got the idea of making stars out of them. : ) The kids then each took a word to colour. I also talked to them about the meanings of each word, trusting the Holy spirit to grant them understanding of their significance.
This was initiated almost a month back.
I thought this would be especially meaningful to become my main theme’s image for Growing Hearts as I love to recycle and each star contained the heartfelt initiatives of our family. It doesn’t matter who gets the most stars as every star will be celebrated together as a family! We’re all eagerly waiting for the jar to be filled up to have a big celebration of our growth! : )
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
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