Safe Environments for Success

A father was out bike riding with his son when they came to a branch blocking the path. The father said to the boy, “This looks like a job for you! Move the branch.”

The boy tried but was unable to budge the branch. He returned to his father and said, “It’s too heavy. I can’t do it.”

His father encouraged him, “Try again and this time, use all of your strength!”

The boy went back to the branch and after pushing and pulling for all he was worth, he said, “Dad, I can’t do it. I need your help.”

“Ah,” said the father, “Now you are using all of your strength!”

Every step along the parenting journey, we want to develop resilient kids who are able to see and succeed at the challenges in front of them. Sometimes the struggle is what teaches the greatest lesson. Other times, a helping hand from a nearby parent makes all the difference. So, how do we know the right time to help and the right time to stand back and give encouragement?

When our children are learning to walk and they fall, we don’t yell, “Stop falling, you quitter!” Instead, we cheer and say, “WOW! Great job! You took THREE STEPS!” At the same time, we move stuff out of their way – to open a clear path for greater achievement. Living in a safe place makes conquering life’s challenges possible. Creating safe places isn’t just about keeping plastic stoppers in power-points and gates at the top of stairs. Safe places are environments where learning is the default because challenges are available and reasonable to the level of the learner.

Now that our kids are in school, we still need to be creating safe environments for success. Some obstacles are part of the challenge, others need to be moved. Nobody knows your child and their capabilities like you do. You spend more hours with them than anyone. To build resilience, kids need to know they can face challenges and conquer the next level of difficulty. Like learning to walk; learning maths, reading, writing and any other subject requires failure and success. Resilient kids have the try-try-again mentality developed through repeated learning experiences of various kinds with one constant – your presence.

Sometimes you cheer. Sometimes you reach out your hand. Other times you do both. These interactions build resilience, stick-to-it-iveness, bravery and confidence in your child. They know you are there for them – and together, anything is possible!


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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.


Rebuke and Retribution

Sabbath School Lesson Discussion Guide
(You're welcome!)

StartWarmer Question: What was the most difficult thing you had to do this week?
(For me, it was preparing this lesson! This is a tough topic that requires willing students more than a willing teacher.)

Reverse engineering this week’s lesson:
Read and discuss the thought question on Friday’s lesson.
(This seems to me to be the best starting point for an honest discussion.)

"Discussion Question: Dwell more on this idea that evil and suffering don’t make sense, that they don’t have a rational or good explanation. Why is it better that way? Think about it. A horrible tragedy strikes: perhaps a young child dies of a terrible disease after years of suffering. Do we really want to believe that a good and rational reason exists for this? Isn’t it better to chalk it up to the terrible and evil results of living in a fallen world?"

Small Groups – 3 groups
Give each group one day’s lesson: Sunday’s, Monday’s and Wednesday’s Lesson.
Say: Please study the lesson for the day given to your group particularly focusing on the passage from Jeremiah in the middle of the page. Then prepare to teach it to the big group in just three sentences. Finally, finish with an open-ended discussion question for the group to answer.
You have Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. I will do Tuesday.
Allow 10 minutes small group time, then share sentences and discuss all questions.

My three sentence summary of Tuesday’s lesson: 
The people of his home town didn’t like Jeremiah or his message so they planned his death. Jeremiah complained to God and asked for vengeance. God promised to kill their young men and their children.
Q. What effect would this answer have on YOU if you prayed a prayer for vengeance against your own people?

Thursday – big group – “Drought: Literal and Spiritual”
Read all of Jeremiah 14:1-22 – one person per verse – around the circle
Q. Can you smell the rain? … Can you feel the drought lifting? Why? What made the difference?

Teaching Self-Control

If you are anything like me, you’ve had moments with your kids when frustration turns anger and words fly out of your mouth that you never meant to say. I’ve spent a bit of time (they are teenagers now) observing myself and researching what causes such outbursts.

So, here’s what I’ve learned about being a good parent. Let me warn you, it isn’t comfortable to hear. But, knowing these things and taking them seriously has helped me heaps!

In order to raise great kids, they need a solid foundation of self-control. Here are four facts to help build a self-control centre in ourselves and our children:

1. Parents, we are in charge.
2. When we ‘loose it,’ the thing we have lost is self-control.
3. Like us, our kids shine when they take charge of themselves.
4. Ultimately, the mature person has consistent self-control.

When we get angry with the kids, it is because we feel we have lost control of them. Little Lady throws a tantrum in the shops. Sir Serious asks “Why?” for the 150th time in three minutes. Mr Muscles tries to rip his sister’s hair out, again. The three angels leave a trail of madness and mayhem through the house. Before flipping your lid, pause and review the ‘self-control’ centre. When the kids are out of control, they are not out of OUR control, they are out of THEIR OWN control. Getting that clear in your mind releases you from taking offence.

They are acting ‘against’ who they are; not who you are!

As a parent, whether you realise it or not, you are on a different level to the kids. Not only are you bigger and older, you are the boss. The kids are the followers. They know you are in charge of what happens at home. Until they understand the boundaries, they will test them. We teach our kids (and learn along the way, ourselves) that “The only person who can control you is YOU!”

The best way to teach this is to model it. By taking ownership of our emotions we can realise, “Wow, I’m really upset about this!” Then we can choose to direct the fight/flight reaction caused by the stress into positive action – doing dishes, mowing the lawn, going for a walk. As we get better at moving from reaction into action, our kids will too. They learn from watching us.

Then we can talk about it; teaching our kids to ask, “What name does this feeling have?” “Why am I feeling it?” “What can I do instead?” “What can I do to make things right?” and finally, “What can I do next time this feeling comes?”

We learn the most difficult skills in life by watching others and then practicing it on our own. Self-control is one of these skills. To master it, it helps to see it mastered by someone around us. As adults, we need to model it. Stop blaming others for our loss of self-control and start taking charge of ourselves. The better we get at self-control, the better start in life we give our kids!

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.


Wisdom Rules

PowerPoints – JETS Sabbath School – Discussion Guide

STARTWARMER Questions: (what’s a StartWarmer?)
What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made?
Who is the wisest person you know? Have you ever seen them struggle with a decision?
What is strategy have you learned for making good decisions?

POWER TEXT: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

BIBLE STORY - Solomon: 1 Kings 3:16-28
Where was the moment of Wisdom in this story? (Not when the women replied – that was obvious.)
Compare: other kings kept records of their good decisions. Solomon’s scribes are doing the same. But, when other kings threatened to divide a person in half, it was from frustration/anger with the people involved. How did Solomon show wisdom (he knew the nature of the women; that they would both back down – one gave the baby away to keep it alive, the other gave it away to keep it out of her enemy’s hands). His moment of wisdom was when Solomon decided to use a ruthless threat to reveal a mother’s love.

ACTIVITY: Wisdom like Solomon (discuss in groups, report back)
1. Two students are claiming that the watch you have found is theirs. To whom should you give it?
2. Your school lunch is being stolen from your locker each day. You have told the teachers, but they say there is nothing they can do until they find that person. How can you help discover who this is?
3. You see the boy who sits next to you at school using a small paper with the test answers written on it during a test. How can you be fair to him and to the other students taking the test?

Building Wisdom: “STORM Co” means? – Service to Others Really Matters… HOW MUCH?
When others think differently than you, how do you respond? How important it is to be right?
Which shows wisdom: knowing the answer, or protecting others?
Is it more important to be right or to be kind?

ACTIVITY – Daily Circle: Have the students draw a large circle on a sheet of paper. Under the circle they will write the sentence “Jesus wants me to be fair in serving others.” Say: This circle represents a day in your life. Divide the circle into a pie chart that represent the way you spent your time last Thursday. (worship, driving, eating, school, study, work, recreation, relaxation, etc.)
Once they have finished, ask them to choose 2 colours of marking pen. Next to the circle write “Current Care” in one colour. Have them colour over bits of each division in the pie chart when they were serving others. Then in the other colour write “Future Care” and colour in the extra amount of time you would like to spend in caring for others.

BIBLE STUDY – Romans 14:1-23   Read the entire chapter around the room.
Pause after verse 1, 4, 5, 10, 12, 18, 23 and ask the appropriate questions below:
(NOTE: Try to be honest to the text while teaching this! If it makes you uncomfortable, good. Explore that!)
ASK: What is this saying? What is it teaching? Why is this important?
After verse 23: What would your friendships be like if you treated service to others as more important than your need to be right? How does this kind of Wisdom lead new people toward the Kingdom of God?
How does this value on relationships develop friendships with those who think differently than you? Why are these friendships important to God? (HE LOVES THEM and wants them in His Kingdom.)

It is eternally important to God that our relationships are strong with family and friends. Our convictions are to be kept private because they are between us and God. All we should have between us and people is love, kindness, mercy, generosity and friendship. WHY? Because this draws people toward our wonderful God and His amazing Kingdom!

POWER TEXT: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13)


Resilient Questions

Long-term learning happens in positive situations. Success is sticky and draws us back for more. Failure scares us away. We shrink from failure and we grow from success. 

Growing up is all about making mistakes and learning from them for next time. But, to help our kids learn quickly and effectively, we need to change those negatives into positives as quickly as possible. Using questions is a great way.

With toddlers and early primary school students, mistakes often come in two areas: Time and Place. Helping them realise this is the wrong time or place for a particular activity gives them the understanding to choose when and where to do it next time. Using positive questions to deal with wrong actions allows children to understand what it is they are doing wrong and why.

Positive question sets (three examples):

“Is this the right place to be drawing with crayons?”
“Where is the right place?”
“Before we go to that place, how will you clean this?”

“Is this the right time to be eating cake?”
“When is the right time?”
“If you are hungry, what is ok to eat right now?”

“Is this the right time or place to be tackling people?”
“When and where is rough play ok?”
“What could you do with your energy now?”

Each one of these examples takes the child from the negative behaviour to positive behaviour while also giving them questions to think through their actions. Next time, they will have some tools to use in considering whether they should draw on the walls, eat cake for breakfast or tackle their sibling on the way into the school grounds.

We create resilient kids by teaching them positive questions to use in reviewing mistakes and planning for success next time.


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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.




Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...