Four Tips to Disciplining your Introverted Child

I want you all to meet Kass Fogle, a writer friend of mine who advocates 
for the shy, socially anxious, and/or introverted in our churches and 
communities. She's also a thoughtful parent, which is why I asked her to 
share with us today. Oh, and by the way, Kass has a fantastic sense of 
humor; seriously, if you want a frequent laugh, follow her on Instagram! 
Let us know what you think in the comments at the bottom.

My children have provided some of my most cherished memories. They have also provided memories I’d rather forget.

Like the time I fireman-carried my two-year old son while very pregnant with my daughter, leaving behind a cart full of groceries.

Or the time my five-year old daughter chose to share her “texture-aversion” to shin guards 5 minutes before a game. To this day, I will attest they were lined with fire ants.

IP - Kass Fogle ducks
courtesy of Pixabay

While the cherubic memories far outweigh the demonic snapshots of our lives, one thing is for certain: kids are kids and will behave in illogical and immature ways.

Our challenge as parents is to respond differently. Easier said than done. In fact, I’m quite guilty of throwing my own tantrums. (For more on momtrums, read When Good Moms Lose It)

But, God’s word instructs parents not to provoke their children.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.  –Colossians 3:21 NKJV

One way we can avoid provoking our children is to pay attention to how we discipline them based on their personality type. Introverted children respond very differently to discipline than their extroverted siblings.

Introverted children (and adults) tend to be more reflective, self-aware, and judicious, therefore very responsive to discipline that matches their personality.

While discipline is based on many factors, here are four tips to guide you when disciplining your introverted child:

  1. Instead of, “Answer me!” consider telling them, “I want you to think about why this is wrong.”

Your child is introspective. Try not to assume he is ignoring you or trying to make up a lie just because he is quiet or not responding to cues immediately. He is likely processing the situation. Consider giving your child time to think about your request then provide the option to respond in writing. Introverts typically share their thoughts or feelings more easily in writing, even with those they love.

  1. Instead of asking them, “How does this make you feel?” consider asking, “What will you do differently in the future?”

Introverts are already hyper-aware of their feelings so calling them out shames them. Instead, have them develop a plan for what they will do next time. Introverts are problem solvers and will rise to this challenge.

  1. Don’t assume a time-out is always the answer. Instead, match the consequence to the situation and child.

Just because your child is an introvert, does not mean they do not want to be heard. Locking them away in a room may not bring the change in behavior you seek. They may enjoy solitude, but no one enjoys loneliness.

  1. Don’t be afraid to share your experiences. Instead, speak up – tell them you’ve made a similar mistake or that you’ve made bad decisions too.
IP - Kass Fogle mom-daughter
courtesy of Pixabay

Introverts tend to exaggerate their offense and worry themselves into quite a state over it. While they may not be as open to sharing their own feelings, they are usually great listeners. Hearing about your experiences and mistakes puts their own transgressions into perspective.

When you combine these four tips, you are creating a safe environment for your child to learn and grow from their mistakes.

God has certainly blessed us as parents when He chose us specifically for raising our kids up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). There is never a shortage of methods, theories and tips. Studies will show this and research will show that, but one thing remains the same and that is our Father’s love for us. It is by His example that we lead our children, introverts and extroverts, “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

4 #IntentionalParenting “insteads” to better #discipline our #introverted children–because they think differently. From @KassFogle via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

Have you found that your children respond differently to discipline because of their personalities? Have any helpful tips for the rest of us (introverted or extroverted)? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

IP - Kass Fogle headshotKass Fogle is an award-winning author and speaker. Her weekly blog, The Introverted Believer is shared each Wednesday on Kassfogle.com.

As an introvert with a side dish of social anxiety, she’s struggled with understanding her role in the Christian Community where small groups are the foundation. This struggle has inspired her to learn more about personality types so she can encourage other introverts, and those who love them, to live out their faith in their work, their marriages, and their friendships.

Kass lives in south-central Illinois with her husband, amazing daughter and two crazy cats. Her son, the source for much of her content, plays football at Olivet Nazarene University. Kass welcomes conversation about coffee, chocolate and comfortable clothes, but please, no small talk!

Please visit her website to download Friendship with a Purpose – a journaling page to strengthen your friendships, free when you subscribe to kassfogle.com.

Related: Disicipline is Designed to Disciple

 

 

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Are They Really Saved?

06-30 spice farm 18
starfruit tree – 2012

Someone said to me recently (not an exact quote), “I want to make sure my children are really saved before they are baptized,” and this comment got me to thinking . . . Jesus said, a tree is recognized by its fruit (Matthew 12:32). But what about when the tree is still a sapling?  What fruit blossoms on so young a tree?  Similarly, can we document any evidence that our children have “accepted Christ”? Should we even try?  I’ve heard enough salvation stories to know that we give too much credence to a moment of salvation when, for most of us, it’s a process with perhaps a documentable occasion when we realize what we already believe.  If you fall very strongly on the predestination side of things, you might even take issue with that.  For the sake of this blog post, let’s assume that people accept Christ and become saved (with God always knowing they would accept) or that our children are predestined for salvation partly because God gave them to us, and we are His chosen ones.  Whatever.  Read this through your own theological lens.  It will still be relevant. Is it any of our business?  It also needs to be said at the outset that it’s really not our job to judge some else’s salvation state. The Scriptures say, Judge nothing before the appointed time; . . . at that time each will receive their praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).  Even with our children, God calls/chooses them personally.  But I can appreciate what this guy in the first paragraph was saying.  It’s our job to guard our children’s hearts (Prov 4:23), to guide them along the right paths for His Name’s sake (Ps 23:3), to help them get things in the right order and understand the sacraments of our faith (Deut 6:7).

But first, some thoughts on children and salvation . . .

The question in our house was never one of belief in the historicity of Jesus or His actions. I think my children were always comfortable with the fact that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected so that we can be forgiven and join Him in Heaven (probably because we presented it as an unquestionable fact, along the same lines as “The sky is blue.”).  The challenge we put before each of them, and thus the way we mark their “salvation”, revolved around this life.  Knowing that eternal life starts now, we would ask, “Are you ready to make Jesus the boss of your life?”  This is the more difficult—and more relevant—question.  The five-year-old who wishes she could boss herself and already feels like she has too many other bosses (parents, teachers, etc.), doesn’t necessarily want to add yet another boss to the list even though she truly wants to go to Heaven.  As our four/five-year-old came to understand the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice and the peace with which we (her parents) lived in the here-and-now, committing this life to Jesus became more acceptable.  By the way, it wasn’t a once-off thing; there were many conversations—all started by her.

What you may see when children accept Christ’s Lordship

If children grow up in a Christ-centered home, they learn right and wrong from the outset. Typically, they don’t lie (often), steal (much), hit their siblings (very hard), or intentionally disobey (in the big things).  They haven’t lived long enough to need forgiveness or freedom for any “big” sins (It’s our scale that labels it ‘big’, by the way.), nor do they have any sinful habits such as swearing or pornography.  So when they “accept Christ,” we can’t expect any major behavioral changes.  In our home, I saw two significant attitude changes that confirmed their declarations of faith.  This happened with both our children.

  1. Contrition. When they sin—and they still do—the Holy Spirit convicts them, and they feel sorry about it. Not sorry about getting caught but sorry about the words/action.  My son comes to me saying, “Mom, I need to confess something.”  We sit down together and talk through his actions and his heart.  Sometimes, there is discipline, but more often than not, I can see that he understands his sin and truly feels sorry, so there’s no need for further reinforcement.
  2. Compassion. Children are inherently selfish. (Most of us never grow out of it, actually.)  After they began to follow Christ, I saw my children become more considerate of others—especially the feelings of others.  Sometimes they see the results of their harsh words before someone corrects them; sometimes they choose to forgive others without being asked; sometimes they stand up for a weaker child or comfort a lonely child or have patience with a difficult child on the playground.

Sure, you can teach compassion, and perhaps you can even bring your child to a point of contrition, but after my children made Jesus “the boss of their lives,” I saw a significant change in these areas without any change in my parenting. Such growth confirmed to me that God was working in their hearts. Feel like you need to have this conversation with your child?  Consider starting with Luke 9:23.

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

  • said to them all – He said this to everyone around Him—not just a select few. In Mark 8:34, He actually calls the crowd over to hear Him.
  • wants to be my disciple – It starts with wanting to follow Jesus.
  • deny themselves – Think less about yourself and more about what pleases God.
  • take up their cross” – There are duties and hardships involved in being an authentic Christian. It’s not going to be easy.
  • daily – The parallels of this verse (Matt 16:24 and Mark 8:34) don’t say ‘daily’, but the rest of Scripture bears out its relevance. Following Christ is not a one-time, prayed-a-prayer, good-to-go kinda deal.
  • follow me – Do what He says—the Holy Spirit leads in a way that is consistent with the Word.

Now don’t hold this verse up to your child like a gauge or checklist.  Don’t hang it beside the how-much-you’ve-grown marks on the wall. It’s a place to begin talking about what it means to be an authentic follower of Christ. Sometimes, my children still massively “blow it” . . . but so do I. All of us live with sin even after you put to death . . . whatever belongs to your earthly nature (Colossians 3:5).  Even the Apostle Paul said, I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do (Romans 7:15).  We cannot expect perfection from our believing children, but it’s safe to expect—and even look for—change as the Holy Spirit produces His Fruit (Gal 5:22-23) in them. So maybe saplings can bear fruit.

On Purity

As I tucked my then-nine-year-old into bed one night, she asked, “Mommy, what is purity?” Since we hadn’t had The Talk yet, and since her question wasn’t actually about sex, I hesitated.  I shot a silent prayer up to God for a simple, understandable answer and took a deep breath.

Whatever is noble . . . whatever is pure . . . think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

The phrases bounced into my head (not the reference—just the words), and I answered: “Purity is about keeping your thoughts pure, about never letting your mind dwell on things that God doesn’t like.”  (Or something like that.  It was a few years ago now, so I can’t remember word-for-word.)  She was satisfied, but the Lord launched me on a long-term thought process that continues to bear fruit in my mind.  It began with the conviction that purity is something much bigger than the box into which we have presently placed it.

Having started college in 1991, I was too late for True Love Waits. (You can go to the TLW blog here.)  I hear wonderful things about the movement, so don’t read this as a criticism of the program or the way God has used it to honor Himself in many lives.  True Love Waits espouses sexual purity, but we American Christians don’t even like to say the word “sexual”—much less talk about it—so somewhere in the last twenty years, “sexual purity” became just “purity” and we all knew what it meant.  But we lost something big when we did that.  We lost the rest of what purity really is.

Virginity is just one branch of the purity tree, and a low-hanging, usually-chopped-off branch at that. Is there no longer a need for purity after you get married?  That’s just ridiculous; of course there is.  And having sex within a marriage doesn’t make you impure.  (I wonder how many newlyweds have struggled with this . . .)  So we really need some expansion here.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart . . .  Psalm 24:3-4

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Matthew 5:8 (emphasis added on both)

Real purity allows us to stand unstained before God. It is about seeking God first, about not allowing anything to come between me and God.  It’s about keeping intimacy with God as my number-one objective and testing everything else to see how it contributes or detracts from that intimacy.  It’s about removing everything from my mind that is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Phil 4:8 again).  Real purity brings me closer to God.

What are the branches of the purity ‘tree’?  (Not an exhaustive list—I’m just brainstorming.)  But first, let’s assume that the one pursuing purity is a Christ-follower, rooted and built up in Him (Col 2:7).

  • integrity. This includes taking credit only for your own work, being honest, leaving others’ possessions alone, ‘owning’ your mistakes, and much more.
  • intimacy. It’s not just about intercourse.  God restrains what we share of our personal lives, family lives, physical bodies, and emotional situations.  He also limits what we need to see of others’ intimacy.  Mom and Dad kissing?  Fine and good.  Couple having sex on screen (especially at the movie theater, where it’s SO BIG!! . . . okay that might just be me)?  Not healthy.  Married women who look to each other rather than their husbands for secrets and support?  Not good.  The motivation behind that phrase, “technical virgin”?  Anathema.
  • interactions. Paul says, Let your gentleness be evident to all (Phil 4:5).  How we think of and speak to other people measures what is in our minds.  Thus, Jesus gave interactions the second-most-important place in obedience:  Love your neighbor as yourself (See Mark 12:29-31).  Furthermore, acts of violence are unacceptable; committing them–definitely, but even watching them . . . well, it’s something to consider.  Ask yourself, “Does the violence in this movie make it more difficult for me/my child to keep my/his mind pure?”
  • ideas. Sometimes Satan just throws sinful thoughts into our minds (especially if we have a less-than-pure past).  Entertaining them tarnishes our purity.
  • language. (Somebody PLEASE give me a word that starts with –i- for this point.  It’s driving me crazy!!)  If you expose yourself to an excess of coarse language, such terms sink into your mind and eventually come out of your mouth.  There’s a reason it’s called a “potty mouth”.

This list feels prescriptive, now that I’ve written it.  Just remember that it all begins in one’s mind; the key verse is Philippians 4:8.  Also, I was really trying to stay away from a list of negatives here, but if you want one, consider Colossians 3. Paul doesn’t specifically say “pure” or “purity” in that chapter, but look just before the list:  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:1-2).  Isn’t this a great description of full-bodied purity? Set your heart and mind on Him. Wow.  I love it when the deluge of details boils down to something simple.

So sexual purity is important, of course, but it quickly descends into simple behavior modification and doesn’t focus on the heart of my preteen. The better approach will be to help our children focus on living a pure life with God-centered boundaries in every area, which honors Him and permits them to walk into adulthood with a mature and fruitful purity.