It happens to me every single year. We have a large yard with lots of flower borders and pine islands. Every summer I promise myself that the next spring I will get out before the weeds and do all of the things you are supposed to do so you aren’t weeding all summer long. Inevitably life gets in the way and I don’t get out there until the weeds have made their appearance everywhere. I know if I could ever nip the weed situation in the bud, my summers would involve a lot less yard work. For some reason though, I never nip it in the bud and find myself doing a lot of extra and potentially unnecessary work.
Christian Parenting is the same way. It starts much younger than people think. You can begin training a child to have appropriate behavior when most kids are about one year old (when your child can respond to a simple command – this age will vary from child to child). It amazes me how quickly toddlers will begin testing your limits. Their hearts are just beginning to develop and aren’t necessarily rebellious, but those temptations and negative behaviors are already there.
I often tell parents if you can establish your authority, limits, respect and consequences by the time your child is four or five, the rest of your parenting journey is so much easier. In part because those misbehaviors that begin cropping up in the toddler years can become fully intrenched if not corrected by school age. What was once a trial and error behavior to discover their limits has now become a very bad habit that will be much more difficult to change. Worse yet, if limits have been set and not enforced, your child may begin demonstrating signs of outright rebellion.
Many parents parent their kids the way I am with those weeds. It just seems it will take a lot of time and effort to correct a child who is just beginning to understand language and limits. Wouldn’t it be better to wait until they are older to deal with misbehavior? Plus that “sassy” behavior gets such a positive reaction from others who coo about how cute your child’s misbehavior is to them.
Trust me. I have seen it so very many times. That “adorable” sassiness at two is the most annoying, disrespectful and at times outright dangerous behavior in the teen years. By then, any attempts to make changes in your children’s behaviors or to mold their hearts more towards God will take more time and effort than you can even imagine.
Do yourself a favor. When your kids are young or if you see a new negative behavior or attitude in an older child, nip it in the bud. It may wear you out at the time, but trust me it takes a lot less effort and causes a lot less heartache than if you try to correct those same things for the first time several months or years from now.