The 24/7 Tool reminds us that parenting is a 24/7 job. It’s constant—-24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Yes, thanks a lot for that exhausting reminder.) No, this tool isn’t meant to create a sense of exhaustion (I think parenting does that enough for itself). It’s meant to create a sense of hope in that we have a lot of opportunities throughout the day to teach and train our kids. Sometimes these precious moments are missed. If we spend all our parenting energy on keeping track of who broke what rule or who left an empty toilet paper roll (leaving you without any options but to wipe with a tissue you happen to find in your back pocket–true story), then we are missing out on so many opportunities in between to teach and train our kids. The 24/7 Tool encourages us to use every moment—-especially the calm times (if those do actually exist) and those downtimes (which every family needs to make sure that they have). Those are the most precious and, in many cases, the most powerful moments to those good behaviors (that I promise our kids are actually doing) that sometimes get overlooked in our kids AND in others.
Opportunities to apply The 24/7 Tool are all around us. We just need to open our eyes to the good things!
- Emphasize character traits in them—
- “You showed such responsibility when you remembered to put away your toys.”
- “You really built trust when you told me about the mistake you made.”
- “I can see you growing in self-control because you remained calm when I told you ‘no.'”
- Emphasize character traits in others—
- “Wasn’t that helpful when grandma picked you up from school for me?”
- “Mommy wanted to be generous, so I bought a homeless man some lunch.”
- “Daddy showed such integrity when he told the waiter about the mistake on our bill.”
- Emphasize character traits in nature—
- “Do you notice the baby ducks listening and obeying their mommy and following her so closely? Listening and obeying keeps them safe.”
- “The spider shows such patience when he builds his web every single night and then he waits and waits and waits for a bug to fly in it.”
- “These ants really work as a team to find food and then they share it with their whole family.”
I started doing a Communication Journal with my oldest when he turned 10. I originally wanted to use it as a way for him to communicate with me—asking me questions and basically telling me anything that he wanted to tell me. I wanted him to have a way to make those awkward or uncomfortable conversations be a little less awkward or uncomfortable. And that’s still what it’s for. But what I’ve found is another really powerful way to use it—to tell him kind, thoughtful, and loving things I’ve observed or other parents have shared. I don’t want to forget to tell him, so I write it in his journal. To be able to pour into his mind and heart words that say “I see you” and “I notice the good things”, is such a blessing. Who knows if he will ever use this notebook for the original intention, but for now, I’m going to use every opportunity I have to use it to speak truth and encouragement into my son’s life.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:19
I confess that it’s easy to see the bad behaviors in our children. It’s easy to nitpick, to find fault in, and to be annoyed by what they do and say. But when we only focus on and direct our parenting energy to those undesirable behaviors, eventually that’s all we will see. Keep our eyes focused on You first. Help us not waste the little pockets of time we have to see the goodness in our children. Open our eyes wide to see life-affirming opportunities throughout our day to speak of the beautiful and wonderful attributes of You to our children—-that we see in them, in others, and in this beautiful and wonderful world around us.