I’ll admit it – I am not the best at keeping up with the structural, plumbing or electronic issues in our home. It simply doesn’t occur to me that I need to be looking at corners, foundation walls and other details to check if anything is going wrong – that’s until something DOES go wrong.
Last night the boys brought to my attention to a small spot of water in front of our refrigerator. I assumed someone had dropped an ice cube and it had melted – no big deal right?
I started to scold the boys when I saw another wet spot in the same location later that night. They denied any involvement and that’s when my critical thinking skills finally kicked in.
Instead of assuming clumsy children were the source of the problem, I started investigating. After winning a battle of tug-of-war with the refrigerator I was in shock. The wood floor under the fridge was warped, discolored and…you guessed it…covered in water.
After covering the soaked wood with a towel I focused all my energy on finding the source of the leak – what could have done so much damage!? How could I have missed it for so long!? Where did this come from!?!?!
Have you ever experienced a time when your children departed from their typical demeanor and became a creature you don’t recognize or like very much? I have.
Within each stage of life we see new facets of our children’s will and personality. These moments can come as a shock.
The temptation to disregard these sudden, short outbursts is strong and sometimes justified. Justification comes when When my children are tired, hungry or have endured multiple changes to their schedule, I can almost guarantee someone (including myself) will lose their temper or respond incorrectly. In these moments I can look at our situation and understand why certain behaviors appear.
It’s in the times when things are fairly “normal”, when people are fed and semi-rested that I have to be on my guard. If children show signs of disrespect, if they willingly participate in behaviors they know to be unacceptable; this is when we need to become investigators and not give up until we’ve found a source and solution to the problem.
Perhaps our children push back because they are trying to see if we’ll give in to their requests or if we’ll show inconsistencies in our expectations of them.
No matter their intentions, the fact remains that our children know us better than they know anyone else in their life. They know when we’re tired, stressed, happy, focused….and they know when we are weak.
When facing a situation where our kids are using their behavior to try and control us we need to pray to God for wisdom, patience and intuition concerning our kids.
Meeting their needs is important, but holding our kids accountable to the acceptable standards and behaviors of our home is essential.
Back to the fridge….
I found the source of the leak. Within the tubing that goes from the water pipes to the fridge there was a hole. A tiny, pin-head sized hole. But it was enough to create a MAJOR problem for our wood floor and for us.
My superhero husband, Matt, came home to find the fridge sitting in the middle of the kitchen, wet, dust-covered towels and me – frustrated and at a loss. With a trip to the hardware store and few slices of his knife we were back in business. All leaks were taken care of – at least we hoped they were.
Matt said we needed to leave the fridge pulled out, away from the wall, so we could check the next night and see if any new water had appeared.
And now for the tie-in…
There are times when our child’s “tiny” behavior or response can cause big problems. A few that come to mind include (but are not limited to) children rolling their eyes at an adult, whining, talking back, being disrespectful to other children and/or adults, disregarding a request made of them, defiance…
The list could go on and on, but for our purposes we need to focus on our response when we observe these behaviors in our children.
We can disregard the small behaviors (just like I did with the puddle of water on the floor) or we can decide to respond and investigate. This is where our instincts should be trusted.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “If they did this same behavior as a 12, 16 or 21 year-old would I still think it’s cute? Would I brush it off as “childish” behavior?”
If the answer is no – it’s important to take action and follow through with a plan that benefits both you and your child.
I understand that certain ages bring certain behaviors (like saying “no”)…but there comes a time when behaviors cannot be excused due to age or intellect. When this occurs we have the opportunity to modify and potentially eliminate a “small” behavior before it becomes a BIG problem.
Don’t ignore the small “drips” or behaviors…they add up.