Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Creative Correction?

A few weeks ago I spoke for a MOPS group and during the meeting one of the moms talked about Lisa Welchel's book Creative Correction. (Remember Blair, from The Facts of Life? That's Lisa!) One of the things this mom talked about that she had learned from Lisa is an alternative way of giving kids a "time out." Rather than just sending them to their room to "think about it," she suggested having them memorize a Bible verse. Since I have never been entirely convinced "time outs" have been effective in my house, I was eager to try this new idea.
This afternoon, Matthew became my guinea pig.
He was causing problems with Joshua in various ways and was generally out of control. I was ready to send him to his room, knowing he would say, "For how loooong???" and decided now would be a good time to try some creative correction. I have spoken with Matthew frequently about his need to work on self-control, and today he was certainly displaying a lack of kindness and peace toward his brother, so I decided I was going to have him memorize Galatians 5:22-23a, The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I went into his room with him, looked the verse up in his Bible, and told him when he had this verse memorized and could recite it for me, he could come out of his room. Well, that pronouncement went over like a lead balloon. Matthew fussed about my requirement but I told him that was my decision, and I left his room.

When I heard about this idea of creative correction, in my imagination I thought the offending child would sit in his room and pour over the verse, if only to shorten his "time out." I thought the child would be glad he wasn't getting sentenced to five minutes in solitary confinement. I thought...I am such an idealist! It didn't work that way in my house.
The way it happened here is Matthew argued about having to memorize the verse. When I was sitting outside of his room he cried and complained, then threw something and hit the wall. I went back into his room deal with that little outburst and felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall - telling Matthew I love him too much to let him behave this way, reminding my son he really is a good kid but he is making bad decisions. I believe he needs to hear this stuff, but don't know how to best communicate it.
At one point I just stood looking at him laying on the floor with his blanket wrapped over his ears. I prayed, Lord, please help me know how to get through to this boy. I wish I knew how to handle him. I wish this wasn't so hard...But if it wasn't, if I felt like I really knew what to do, maybe I wouldn't think I need to depend on You so much...God, I promise - I'll keep depending on You. Please let this become easier. (Yes, I try to bargain with Him sometimes.)
I had gone back and forth into Matthew's room several times to find the verse for him again, and was beginning to wonder if the effort was ever going to be "worth it." I don't know how much time had lapsed from the onset of this scene when Matthew finally came out and said, "I think I have it, Mom." He then recited the verse for me - not perfectly, but he was very close - and we hugged.
As I held him I prayed aloud for him, asking God to help Matthew grow and to produce in him the fruit of the spirit. I know Matthew loves it when I pray for him, especially when I pray aloud, and I could feel his whole body relax in my arms. For an instant I forgot how frustrated I had been with this child just moments before, and I was thankful once again for the hope God manages to give me in the midst of motherhood.

As for this new form of "time out," though it didn't go perfectly this time I am not ready to throw out the idea. It had a rough start, but a good end, and I will keep on trying it.

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momteacherfriend said...

I love the book "Creative Correction." I use it often but it has been awhile since I read it all the way through. Like since oldest was still an innocent infant. So somehow that tool was missed on me. I love the idea. I think I will try it out and let you know.

Memorizing scripture is never time wasted. And sometimes I think it may be the perfect consequence. When we remember how God feels about something we may be more apt to obey.

Good job, MOM!

Coach J said...

I like this idea! I'll have to try it out next time. I hope that's a while down the road! :)

Karen said...

This was very interesting Karen. I enjoyed reading the post, and I could 'hear' your heart as you went through the process and could so understand. I will definately bear this in mind. This morning as I was driving to swimming class for my daughter I was struggling with not feeling well or energetic and my daughter was being a bit angsty. I grabbed my memory verse I am working on each week - this week on Love (I Cor 13:4-6) and at every traffic light I read it out light (interesting making me wait and talking about not being easily angered etc) and my daughter was calming down and talking about Jesus and the verse - so reading your post after this has definately inspired me!

Oldqueen44 said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I have enjoyed this first year of blogging and dropping by yours from time to time. So on this wonderful Thanksgiving day, I give thanks for you as one of my many blessings.

kreed said...

I am goin gto have to go find this book...although I think my daughter might know the whole Bible cover to cover within an few months with that form of "correction"!

Joyful Days said...

I was so moved by this post. I will have to try it!!

annie said...

I love that idea! I will definitely be using it around here.
Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful Karen.

Bonnie said...

Hi Karen,

I came to this post after reading it on "Karen's Ramblings". What a great post. I will have to try this out ! My son, who is 6, is just learning to read but I think if I used small words he could do it ! My daughter is 4 so I'd have to be a bit more creative with her ! I'm going to see if I can find this book too. Looks like a great read ! ~ Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Wait what if your child then always associates learning God's Word as a form of punishment? I looked at Lisa's website...some of her other disciple ideas seem kind of....messed up. Sorry for the honesty.