Raising the Impossible Child

Do you have one of those children who...
Can’t seem to hear you, except when you are whispering to your husband about things they shouldn’t know?
Latch on to anyone as if you don’t give them your undivided attention at home?
Create unrest wherever they go?
Live to push your buttons?
What’s a parent to do?

Remember, most of parenting is discipline. Because if your child isn’t disciplined, he won’t listen. If he’s not listening, he can’t learn, if he won’t learn, he’s a fool and the Bible speaks much about the destruction and end of a fool. And he doesn’t go alone, he brings the tears of his mother with him, along with a lot of other people.
1. Eliminate excuses
You know he heard you. You know he understood, but when you confront him over why he isn’t doing what you told him to do, his response is, “I didn’t hear you.”
To ensure “hearing,” when you give instructions,

  1. Have him stop what he’s are doing, put down what he has in his hands.
  2. Look you in the eye.
  3. Listen.
  4. Repeat what you said.
  5. We have added for emphasis, “Yes, Mom (or Dad).”
    If he has a record of “forgetting,” I require immediate action.
    I don’t allow him to ask, “Can I finish this first?”
    As his responsibility increases, then I give allowances.
    This eliminates the excuses: “I didn’t hear you,” “I didn’t think you wanted me to…” “I forgot.”
    Then, I must follow him around the house to make sure he completes the task. (Do not assume.) If this sounds like you are his conscience…it feels like it.
    Distraction is huge with this impossible child. Either he is distracted, or he will distract you to forget your own command. You cannot forget. Because he will learn what you say is not important.
  6. Call him ONCE and expect a response.
    By calling many times, he learns to wait until you are screaming before he acknowledges your call.
    After he comes, proceed with your directions as previously stated.
  7. When it’s time to change activity…
    He is busy playing and you must redirect what he is doing, whether it’s time to eat, pick up toys, or go to bed, give a warning.
    No one likes to be interrupted. We give our boys a few minutes’ warning. As they are older, they may ask, “Can we finish this game?”
    This allows an easier transition between activities.
    Children, especially young ones, need structure and schedules. They don’t like change. Change can throw them into an attitude ready for disobedience.
    Prepare them for the change before it comes.
    When we were arriving home from church, my husband gives this speech (That the older boys can now quote), “We are getting home. When we get home, first change your clothes and then get ready to eat.”
    Why does getting in and out of the car create such a problem? Because it is change. Without fail, before he finishes his speech, we’d arrive home and the turmoil of getting out of the car and onto the next stage would be upon us, and so would the fighting. Prepare them for the next step.
  8. That doesn’t mean you must explain everything to your child. If you find yourself defending your reasons or justifying your actions to your child, stop. Remember, he is the child. You are the authority.
    I tell my boys, “You obey first, then if you don’t understand, ask.”
    If they were running in front of a car, I don’t want them to question me when I yell, “Stop!” I expect instant obedience.
    After the obedience, if they ask, and I feel they are ready to understand. I explain why.
    But most of the time the answer is “Rules are for their safety.”
    Often I make my impossible child fill in the blank. “Rules are for my ___”
    He must respond, “SAFETY.”
    In fact, I’ve added a lot more rules for this one child then I’ve ever needed for the others. Again, for his own safety.
  9. Do you have a child that latches onto others, like you never pay attention to them at home?
    I know he has my undivided attention, or he’s into trouble.
    Some people can reach them in ways that I cannot. I let them.
    Isn’t that what the body of Christ is suppose to do?

My youngest follows his teacher the minute we arrive at church. He’s his shadow.
They need those role models. I try not to let him be a leech, or hover to the extent of annoyance, but it allows me to breathe without constant hounding.

  1. Catch them being good.
    So often a parent’s job seems to always correct the wrong.
    Children need affirmation in what they are doing right.
    When all you do is correct (because all they do is stretch the limits), it is hard to find ways to praise and to encourage.
    Some children thrive with any attention, good or bad. If they don’t get it being good, they don’t mind punishment to get it being bad.
  2. My husband reminds me that our son’s persistence will make him unmovable and unstoppable for God. I need that reminder. Because I spend the entire day trying to stop him from disobeying. What if I could just refocus his direction toward God’s? He would stop at nothing. And God would be pleased.

I need that reminder of that long-term goal, because the battle rages every moment.

  1. If you have more than one child, you will also notice that if one child is disruptive, and is not corrected, you now have two children acting poorly. The sin or bad habit or poor response is not added by children; it is MULTIPLIED. If that is not motivation for instant action, I’m not sure what is! You are being out-numbered by little urchins, and those urchins have your genes! (How could that have happened?)

Maybe these don’t solve what problems you have with your child.

Those impossible times, or impossible child, remind me to look to God. I can’t be self-sufficient. He gives wisdom…strength…grace…and fortitude to keep fighting to win each battle.

Keep the end goal of obedience, not only of your child, but of your task as parent given to you by God, in your mind.

And God will give you glimpses of what that impossible child will do for a great God Who gives him an impossible job to do.


Displaying all 3 comments

Love that last line. Beautiful and so true!

This is a very excellent article Sonya. You have such practical wisdom to share! Keep up the good work! I used to say, "Children do what you inspect, not what you expect!". Hugs, Helen

This is a great article. I know you know all this from personal experience, but as I read, I also kept thinking of Katrina, so will send this on to her. She needs the encouragement as much as her son needs the discipline. Thanks so much!

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               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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