Have you ever watched your children interact and wondered where you went wrong? I have that experience more frequently than I would like. However, I will say that generally my 5 children like each other and get along. Generally.
I really dislike arguing, bickering, and outright meanness and manipulation. Kids, of course, will be kids and there will always be some of that but I learned something when I was a missionary for my church that has stuck with me. Sometimes I forget, and then this quote pops back into the forefront of my brain. True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. . . . That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.”Boyd K. Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, November 1986, 17
What has worked for us, and continues to work is to turn to the Lord. If my children are especially testy with each other I will make sure gospel-centered music is playing in the background all day. We focus our work on personal prayer and scripture study. Their writing for the day may be to copy a verse from scripture. We kneel down in prayer as often as we need, one-on-one or as a group. They begin to have a greater understanding of the doctrine, or teachings of Christ, as it is studied and practiced.
For littles, it’s going to be more practicing than actual studying. But as we do this, it’s miraculous how quickly behaviors change. And it happens every time. You’d think I would think of it sooner. I mean, we never leave it out completely, every day we start with prayer and scripture study. But sometimes you just have to add extra emphasis in order to help create a peaceful, kind, loving environment in your home.
I don’t know what I would do without the extra help God gives as you turn to Him. I think I would have stopped homeschooling awhile ago! I couldn’t do it without Him. And of course, as little humans learning to become adults, our children need as much help as we do! Helping them turn to the Lord when things are difficult is a great lesson for dealing with future trials, and helps build good habits while they are young. Math and reading and everything else are certainly important, but to me, the most important thing I can do for my children is to help them develop a relationship with God and to become good human beings. The rest will all work out!