Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reaching her heart

After an unusually challenging day with my 3-year old, I went into her room after she fell asleep and gently placed my hand on her back.  Her blonde hair, still wet from a bath, smelled clean and fruity.  Her favorite stuffed bunny was snuggly tucked in under her protective arm.  I reflected back on the day.  With deep sorrow, I realized that the majority of my thoughts and words were directed at her less-than-desirable behaviors.  I felt like I had gotten no where that day.  How do I reach her heart and not solely focus on the behavior?  Feeling defeated I prayed for wisdom.  I knew that I wanted to think of something, right then, that I could do to dwell on and celebrate the many beautiful, noteworthy qualities that truly capture the essence of my precious daughter.  I began thinking about who she really is, at the heart-level.  I wrote down....

You are generous.
You are friendly.
You are my big helper.
You are thoughtful.
You are your brother's best friend.
You give the best hugs.
You are a delight.
You are a hard-worker.
You are an encourager.
You make my heart smile.
You are intelligent.

I then cut out paper hearts, wrote each truth down on a heart, and decorated her door with them as I dreamed about how excited I was for her to find them in the morning.  She did see them first thing the next morning.  I couldn't wait to read each heart to her and then tell her a specific example of when she showed that quality.  The smiles and obvious pride made my heart soar as I knew I was reaching her heart.  She seemed to claim each of these qualities as her own.

The next day or so she took the initiative to pick up toys throughout the entire house while I washed the dishes after dinner.  Getting down on her level I thanked her for being so helpful and reminded her about the heart that says "You are my BIG HELPER."  She smiled.  Then I used that as an opportunity to teach her what the word "responsible" means.  I told her that I wanted to add another heart to her door that says, "You are responsible."  She beamed.

We are now a few weeks out from that night I decorated her door.  I am still seeing huge benefits from this simple idea.  She's learned what it means to be generous, encouraging, diligent, and responsible and she loves finding ways to demonstrate these qualities.  I add hearts to her door every chance I get and I love it when she tells me something she did and what the new heart should say!

Not only has this re-focus been good for her, but also me.  I love finding every opportunity I can to encourage her and reach her on a heart-level.  Of course I still must address the issues that arise, but I don't want to dwell on those and I want to be ready to extend grace and mercy to her.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
~Philippians 4:8