3 Hints for Dealing with a Compliant Son

The little boy listened.

He nodded; he agreed with his mom. (Well, most of the time.)

He had his rambunctious moments, but he wasn’t particularly difficult. He wanted to be a leader.

He cared about what others thought.

He was a bit of a tenderhearted warrior, and all of that sounds very positive.

He was, pretty much, a compliant child.

Maybe I just described your boy–you know, the one who says, “Okay, Mom.” Oh, he has his occasional fits and tantrums, but on the average, this one is pretty obedient, conforming. The (relatively) easy son.

3 Hints for Dealing with a Compliant Son via The MOB Society

Hint #1 – Praise Him

It’s easy to forget to praise this one – after all, he’s the easy one. There seems to be no need for pats on the back or encouragement toward obedience. It’s so easy to overlook, but your compliant son needs praise.

It’s too easy to overlook that need because he’s usually conforming; maybe he’s the oldest son, or the leader. We tend to think it’s the rascal that needs encouragement for that rare moment of obedience – after all, we want to see it happen again, so we praise the rascal up and down. The one who always obeys sometimes doesn’t hear your “Thanks, honey” or “I like the way you did that,” because you expect that of him, however that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need it. It’s easy, too, for this son to feel unappreciated. Just because a child isn’t a troublemaker doesn’t mean he doesn’t need encouragement.

It’s easy to forget how different out sons are, how diverse their needs are. I teach high school English, and a parent once said to me, “My child thinks you don’t like him.” I was so surprised. He was a great kid – but a quiet one. I spent more time in the classroom with the rascals than I did with the good guy, but apparently he needed some bolstering. I had thought he was fine, but as soon I took the opportunity to build him up I saw the difference immediately.

A little encouragement goes a long way – and it never hurts!

Hint #2 – Show Him Your Love Isn’t Connected to His Performance.

He may be compliant, but he’ll mess up from time to time. Take it in stride, Mom. Help him work through it. This boy’s failure may disappoint him more than it does you, and he needs to talk about it and figure it out. Don’t assume this one always has everything figured out; chances are, he needs you more than you know.

Your unconditional love, even in the face of failure, will help prevent heartless compliance. If he’s compliant, he “gets” what pleases you. It’s easy to keep performing to get the reward of your approval; it can become a habit with no heart behind it. Your love takes on meaning for him when it sticks through thick and thin, and when he sees that, he’ll want to act out of love – not just duty or obligation.

Hint #3 – Remind Him That the Ground is Level at the Foot of the Cross.

As one of my “easy” sons reached young adulthood, he told me that it was easy to think a lot of himself when he was a kid; after all, he was the “good” kid who followed the rules. He almost fooled himself into thinking God’s kingdom was about his own goodness.

Help your son remember that we’re all in the same boat—sinners in need of a Savior, regardless of our performance. Don’t let him label himself the good son and his brother the bad one; let him learn from you, Mom. It may not be easy, but when we, as moms admit our flaws, ask forgiveness when we have failed, and strive to love our boys unconditionally we move them toward hope in One who is bigger than both of us.

Take a little extra time with that compliant son today. His eyes will light up and, most of all, his heart will know love that’s connected not to performance, but to Christ.

A few resources to help:

Do You Love Me? A book about grace for kids from 4 to 8 years old.

The Agreeable Child – a post with some wisdom for dealing with compliant ones

Strong-Willed Children vs. Compliant Children – an article by James Dobson

Laura Lee GrovesLaura Lee Groves is the mother of four sons and the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, in addition to Pearl, a novel about international adoption.

Want to learn more about Laura? Make sure to…

Connecting Our Boys with the Cross

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For years, I have searched for ways to make the days leading up to Easter more real, intentional, and meaningful for my children. Easter is fun and joyful, much like Christmas, but Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and death are a completely different story.

As much as my boys enjoy reading and hearing a good story, they are also very visual and hands-on learners. They still talk about Bible lessons we did years ago involving action figures and slime. Their minds remember the moments that stimulated their senses – touch, smell, sight, sound, taste.

Last year, the difficult topic of the crucifixion became a family exploration as we dove into Amanda White’s A Sense of the Resurrection: An Easter Experience for Families. Many of you know Amanda as the author of Truth in the Tinsel, a fabulous Advent experience for families with children of all ages. I am so grateful she also tackled the death and resurrection so we could have a guide for sharing with our boys.

Sense-Resurrection-Cover-350-rectangle.jpg

A Sense of the Resurrection is all about creating memorable experiences based on Scripture using the five senses.  It’s about moving from feeling to understanding to believing in our Savior and His great sacrifice for all of us. The ebook contains 12 activities which will lead your family through Jesus’ anointing, the Last Supper, Peter’s denial, the cross, the empty tomb and more. Through it all, your home will be transformed into a memorial to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This is truly an ebook any family can use, whether you consider yourself crafty or not. Each activity involves a simple “craft,” but you could also choose to simply print out the banner flags included in the ebook and have your child decorate them each day as you read and discuss the Scripture.

Washing the feet has become one of my favorite family Lent traditions. Amanda provides the Scripture and discussion questions to make this a really meaningful moment for even your smallest kiddos. I find myself referring back to this activity throughout the year as we all learn to serve one another better.

Washing Feet

If it was important enough for Jesus to serve His followers before He died on the cross, we know it is a critical lesson to teach our children. There is no better way than letting them experience exactly what the disciples did that day.

One more reason I really love A Sense of the Resurrection is each activity creates something special to have up in your home throughout Lent. These aren’t lessons that are here today and gone tomorrow. The fragrances will linger, the banners will proclaim the truths about Jesus, and the opportunity to discuss life and death and salvation will be right in front of you as the season moves toward Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

This activity devotional will not take up hours of your day or money you don’t have, but it will provide valuable direction for sharing the most difficult AND most amazing part of the Gospel with your kids. We pray you’ll love doing A Sense of the Resurrection with your children as much as we have!

We are thrilled to have a discount on A Sense of the Resurrection just for you today! Use code MOB at checkout to get 20% off your order through Easter, 04/05/15!

What are your favorite ways to help your children understand the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus?

3 Keys to Protecting the Loyal Boy’s Heart

He tore outside, face blotched, nose running, gasping for breath between sobs as he threw himself into my arms. It would seem that I should be concerned as he was near hysterical, but this is my dramatic boy, and his tears weren’t the kind caused by physical pain.

It was hurt feelings that brought about this reaction.

Kneeling down, as I had so many times before, I asked him to calm down and tell me what happened. I knew he needed to verbally process his hurt, so I waited, and I listened.

I haven’t always responded to my sensitive boy well. Given his flair for the dramatic, my first response on more than one occasion has been a roll of the eyes and an impatient sigh. I lack grace in the dramatic.

3 Keys to Protecting the Loyal Boy's Heart via The MOB Society

And yet…

There are many beautiful traits that this tenderhearted boy of mine possesses. He is loyal, and friendship to him is sacred. I understand this because I am wired much the same way. Over the years I have nursed my own wounded heart many times when friends did not give me the same loyalty that I gave them.

Through hiccups and gasps, he shared his hurt feelings, and his heartache quickly turned to anger. He demanded justice, that I send the offending friend home…forever.

“I don’t want to ever be his friend again. Ever. He’s a jerk!”

This moment happened two years ago, but it stands out vividly in my mind. It was the first time I felt a true and deep empathy for this tenderhearted warrior. His wounded heart begged for justice because that felt like the only tangible way to numb the deeper hurt he felt.

Tenderhearted boys long for loyalty in a world that often looks away.

For the tenderhearted warrior, a friend made is a friend for life. But what to do when the world sees friendship as disposable, and allegiance to one another moves with the ebb and flow of life?

There are three keys to protecting your loyal boy’s heart, while also celebrating his noble and sensitive trait.

1.)Praise Him for Being Such a Good Friend

As he grows, he will experience the constant change of friendship more often. It is a rare friend that stands the test of time. He’ll learn this lesson through hurt feelings and heartache, and yet he will still want to stand by his friends. Show him the value in his loyalty and give him the space to grieve when others don’t take it as seriously as he does.

2.) Protect His Heart.

There will be some friendships that need to end. As our children grow from little boys playing war in the back yard to young men shooting hoops at the local park, the effects of life will bring about some unwanted changes in some. Recognize when a friendship is unhealthy for your son and point him toward the friends that will give him the support and godly influence he needs to continue to grow in wisdom and stature.

This is not to say he has to turn his back completely on a wayward friend, though there may be instances when that is the case. But there will be times when your loyal boy will struggle to step away, and you’ll need to help guide him through that.

3.) Be Patient With the Drama

Avoid the eye rolls when they come in with hurt feelings…again. Give lots of hugs and understanding as they cry over offenses that, to you, seem minor. Help them face disappointments, realizing that 99% of the time little boy friendships are easily mended over a popsicle and a game of soccer.

A loyal, tenderhearted boy may shed more tears than his seemingly tougher peers, but his sensitive heart will also be the first to offer a hand of grace to an enemy, a defense for the weak, and support to a friend by standing by their side when life throws a curve ball.

Rejoice in your tenderhearted warrior, Mama, even if the drama threatens to do you in.

Lord, I praise you for these young men with a deep sense of loyalty. Help us to constantly point them toward you, Father, as they grow. May their allegiance to you be unwavering and sure. Thank you for these tenderhearted warriors, Lord. Use their lives to bring about your Glory. Amen.

Kelli-StuartKelli Stuart is a writer and a mom of four who spends most of her days shuttling children from one event to another in her smokin’ hot minivan. For years, Kelli perfected the art of the starving artist by ghost writing, editing, and writing newsletters back when newsletters were actually printed on paper. In 2004 Kelli co-authored the book Dare 2B Wise with Joe White, and from there began to focus heavily on her own novel, which she hopes to see published in 2015. In 2008, Kelli discovered blogging when her youngest was a newborn. She launched her first site, Minivans Are Hot, as a way to write about the often baffling and hilarious business of being a mother knowing that if she didn’t laugh at life, she just might cry. She’s recently transitioned to a new space online where she loves connecting with creative-heart moms to encourage them to continue developing and using their creative gifts for God’s glory! You can find her over at KelliStuart.com — Kelli currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she tries hard to concentrate on balancing her love of writing with her desire to sit on the beach and read a good book.

3 Ways to Help Your Highly Sensitive Boy

The boys went down that night with gentle back rubs and a book or two or eight. By the time I left their room I had nothing left to give. With my husband traveling for work and me homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and simply pouring out all day long, I was bone weary.

As I walked down the hall into my room I couldn’t wait to strip off my dirty clothes. I was exhausted. So off them came, layer after layer. As the shower ran hot and filled the room with it’s healing vapors, I closed my eyes and brushed my teeth. The steam on my skin and the invigorating mint of my toothpaste felt like heaven. It was my first moment alone. All. Day. Long.

Suddenly, something brushed against my naked thigh and I jumped with a scream, toothbrush flying. Grabbing my towel I looked down at the four year old who was now crying. My sensitive middle boy had crept in and come to my side. He was sobbing so I wrapped the towel tight (I know, a little too late for modesty) and turned the shower off. I ushered him into my bed and tucked him deep into the covers on my husband’s side. “What were you doing?” I asked as he calmed.

The words came easily, like a late night breeze, floating in through an open window,

I just wanted to smell you one more time.” And with that he was asleep.

He is my tenderhearted child. The one who, I joke, would crawl back into my womb if it were at all an option, because life can overwhelm a sensitive heart. Since God blessed us with this sensitive heart for a son, I’ve learned a few tools to help his tenderheart not just survive, but thrive.

individuality-of-boys

1) Schedule Plenty of At-Home Time and Alone Time

All of the going we do in our hyperactive, highly driven society is unnerving and counter-productive for introspective, quiet children. These angels are often bordering on brilliant, and need plenty of white noise for their unique spirits to settle down again on the inside. Long school days, soccer practice, homework, dinner and then bedtime, doesn’t allow the time they need to set up their intricate displays of action figures and Lego, illustrate their original comic book, or read their latest favorite book.

Two hours seems to be the amount of time my tenderhearted boy has always needed. Even when he was two, he’d pull away down the long hallway, away from his brothers as they tumbled over one another.  Alone on the hardwood floor, he’d put together and take apart and put together again puzzle after endless puzzle. In the end he’d come back to our family togetherness so beautifully calm and collected.

2) Protect Him by Partnering With Him.

We decided to hold this particular child back for an extra year of preschool. Once it was time to go to kindergarten, we chose a three day a week program. Even then he begged to stay with me at home, and the more overwhelmed he got the more his impulse control lessened and the more his tears flowed. The next year we began the grand adventure of homeschooling, partially because this child got emotionally stressed at school. However, after two years at home with me, I saw that he was missing some coping skills. These skills, I believe, needed to be developed beyond our front porch, so we enrolled him in a private school just down the road.

Miracles do happen!  He is growing leaps and bounds in both his academic and social confidence and the lesson I’m learning is that I can best protect him by partnering with him, not keeping him away from the challenges.

This is not to say you shouldn’t homeschool, or that you should, I am simply saying that we must pattern with our unique children as they face their challenges.

3) Watch Your Children’s Diet

Sensitive children respond dramatically to artificial dyes and flavors in their foods, and often can’t handle high fructose corn syrup either. I’m not a nutritionist, just a mother.  Just a mother.  That means watching out for my children like a lioness watches for the possible threat of attack – and all that artificial crud in our food is attacking many of our sensitive children from the inside.

For years I wondered why my son struggled with night-time terrors, impulse control, and sudden bouts of heart-wrenching tears, but when I removed the dyes and corn syrup from his diet, he began drifting to sleep peacefully most nights and coping happily during his waking hours.

This isn’t a formula.

Dear Moms, each child is different and it’s our high calling to know each one of them well.  The better we patiently understand their individual makeup, the better we can lead them uniquely into the life God planned for them from the very beginning.  Here is a prayer that I pray for my tenderhearted child:

 Dear Lord,

You’re not surprised by the challenges my boy faces each day.  You lovingly guide me as I guide him.  I trust you, God.  I trust that you knew exactly what you were doing when you wove him together in my womb, and I find great comfort knowing that you will bring to completion all that you’ve begun in Him.  Thank you for Your tenderness toward the tenderhearted.  Amen

Resources

I mentioned how we’ve bounced around trying to find the right school option for our boy.  Here’s a post I wrote about the bouncing… and the landing. For those of you who have young children who dissolve into a puddle of tears at bedtime, this sweet story always settled my boy’s anxious heart.  I Love You, Stinky Face.  And, might I suggest, you spray a little Lavender on his pillow at tuck in too? It takes the anxiety right out of them.

I’d love to be praying for you and your tenderhearted one so please, leave a comment telling me how I can.

Wendy SpeakeWhether she’s with loved ones in her actual Living Room, alone in God’s Living Word, or speaking to a room full of women, Wendy Speake is inspired to share life and faith with others in creative ways. As Jeremiah had fire in his bones, she too feels compelled to share the Gospel of Jesus – she just does it with stories that probe the glorious and hurting places of life, pictures of faith lived out in her home, and recipes purposed to inspire hospitality. You can connect with her in her virtual living room — WendySpeake.com

4 Ways to Draw Out the Hearts of Our Boys

At first, we couldn’t figure it out. Our son, the one who was a confident leader, was suddenly dissolving into deeply emotional outbursts and tears over seemingly “small stuff.” His sensitivity chip was in overdrive and it threw us for a loop. He couldn’t seem to articulate why he was having a hard time.

Sometimes, our boys swing in the other direction-they clam up and we can’t figure out what is making them moody or retreat. The invisible wall they put up seems insurmountable.

4 Ways to Draw Out the Hearts of Our Boys via The MOB Society

As a mom of 3 sons, I affectionately call my house a “testoster-home.” It took me a while to navigate the differences in communication between males and females. When our sensitive sons erupt into tantrums or sulk quietly, it’s a signal to us that they need our help to put their feelings into words. It’s not a time to condemn, punish punitively, or criticize them.

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1

There are four gentle ways that my husband and I have found effective to draw out the hearts of our boys:

One-On-One “Dates” With Your Son

The other day, I took my oldest boy out to an early dinner straight from school. We ordered his favorite mac n’cheese from California Pizza Kitchen and shared a sundae.

Slowly, as we savored the hot fudge, he leaned into me and thoughtfully confessed that he was having a hard time at school with a certain friend who seemed to be playing with someone else more than him. The moment of comfort and security was enough for him to put his emotions into words and it gave us some quality uninterrupted time for me to speak life into his heart.

Kick a Rock, Walk & Talk

It’s crucial for dads to take a specific interest and role in talking about emotions with their sons so that they can identify with a role model. This is especially true if the son is being obstinate or difficult, but you don’t know why.

Imagine with me for a moment, Dad approaches the son lovingly and explains that they are going to take a walk around the block until they figure out what‘s going on together. It may take several laps, walking side by side so they don’t have to look each other in the eye, but eventually, our sons will open up. They long to do so, but often feel inhibited. It doesn’t come as naturally for boys to express themselves verbally. Having a father who gives them an opportunity to kick a rock and walk and talk is relief for them. We want parenting formulas to help our sons, but our patient faithfulness is what will bless them the most.

Shift From Exasperation To Empowerment

Sensitive sons may feel like they have a lack of control or choices in their world, especially during times of big change such as a move, a new school, or the loss of a friendship, etc.

A practical way to help them feel more control is to involve them in something that makes them feel empowered. If your son tends to cry a lot or explode in anger, they may very well feel powerless and frustrated.

It’s helpful to sign them up for lessons or sports, or involve them in an activity that allows a bit of responsibility.  Permit your boys to finally have that puppy to take care of or let them choose a summer job that will give them independence. The key is that it is something they will have a measure of success with so that they don’t continue to feel helpless and at odds with the world around them.

Pray Scripture Over Them

There is no greater act you can do for your sons than to pray over them with a fervent heart. God predestined the life of every one of us before the foundation of the world and He cares for our boys even more than we do. God has all the answers to all our questions. When you don’t know what to do, keep your eyes on the Lord and pray Scripture over your boys. The MOB Society co-founder, Brooke McGlothlin’s book, Praying for Boys is a beautiful and Biblical tool for you to use as you pray for the hearts of your kids!

Moms, keep in mind that it takes a CHILDHOOD to move from immaturity to maturity.  An entire childhood! And it takes a childhood for our boys to learn how to navigate the world and their role in it. Stay the course, lovingly and gently drawing out their hearts and protecting their God-given emotions.

RESOURCES

1. Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin

2. Parenting With Love & Logic by Foster Cline, MD & Jim Fay (This book is a favorite of mine. It teaches parents to give choices to kids so they feel responsible and learn from their mistakes instead of fighting or arguing about it with mom and dad.)

Amber-LiaA former high school English teacher and budding novelist, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 3 little boys under the age of 6. She and her husband Guy answered the calling to start Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach in Santa Monica, CA or baking her famous Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at www.MotherOfKnights.com