When my daughter was little, we went to a lot of those mother/child classes. I used to cringe every time the teacher gave any instructions to the children. My favorite part was always when the teacher would ask the children to sit with their mothers in the circle. My daughter would quickly come and sit beside me as instructed.
The other mothers’ children would continue to run around the room getting into things. Usually there were one or two mothers who felt guilty and began to try and convince their child to come sit beside them. “Oh, don’t make them come get into the circle.” the teacher would say. “They are too young to be expected to obey.” Suddenly all eyes would turn to me and my obedient child. The look was similar to that you would give a suspected child abuser.
A few years ago, some experts decided children with behavior problems suffered from low self-esteem. A campaign began to educate parents and teachers on how to improve the self-esteem of children to minimize bullying and other negative behaviors. It started out innocently enough. Parents were told to encourage their children instead of constantly criticizing them. Surely, there were quite a few parents who needed a reminder that constant criticism without some praise and loving words thrown in was potentially damaging.
But by the time my child reached school age, things were getting out of control. Children were allowed multiple chances to behave before a rule was enforced and consequences given. They were learning stop light colors and fractions more than they were learning to obey. There couldn’t be a dean’s list because the children who didn’t make good grades might “feel badly about themselves”. There were hardly any competitions, because it hurt a child’s feelings to lose.
Moral sequencing is the ability to analyze a situation and decide what the moral outcome may be from a decision made today. It requires a person to not just analyze the current decision and the probable outcome, but continue the process out several more steps. When there is a lack of competence in moral sequencing, a person may not realize that what is merely a questionable choice today may lead to more disastrous outcomes in a few weeks or months.
Some people call this the Sodom and Gomorrah effect. I seriously doubt Lot moved his family in that direction so they would move so far away from God’s ways. As far as we can tell from the Bible, his main thought was better pasture land for his animals. If he had stopped and used moral sequencing though, he may have had second thoughts about his choice.
Sequencing is a very important skill for children to learn in preparation for reading. Sequencing usually involves a child being given a set of pictures. He may be told which is first in the sequence. He must then decide the order of the remaining pictures. He makes the decisions based on what he thinks the outcome will be from what happens in the previous picture.
Sequencing is also an important math skill. A child needs to learn how to sequence numbers properly in order to count. Sometimes a child is given a set of numbers in some unnamed pattern. The child must decide which numbers come next by deciphering the pattern. (Which is what you do in counting. You are actually adding one to the previous number.)
My daughter likes to joke that the reason she doesn’t get punished very often is because she is an only child. Honestly, she is probably not too far off base with her assessment. If you analyze what you correct your children for, I would imagine much if it is a result of some sort of sibling conflict. The next most frequent category of stress, especially for parents of tweens and teens is the conflict between the child and one or more parents.
My husband and daughter will confirm for you that I am far from an expert on handling conflict. My training as a teacher, though, has taught me some better ways of handling disagreements. While it definitely won’t resolve all of the conflict issues in your home, it may eventually make them more pleasant to deal with when they do happen. (These are listed in no particular order.)