As a boy mom, there is one thing I observed early on about boys. They LOVE to touch each other. Nothing inappropriate, I'm talking about the constant tapping, touching, bumping, hugging, kicking, thumping, slamming, slugging each other. So much touching!
If you're a boy mom, listen in and get really close...they are boys. They aren't supposed to act like us, because they aren't a girl. So if you struggle with their physical nature, I need you to pray about it to find some peace and talk with your husbands about it as well. You cannot discipline them out of all the constant touching, it's part of who they are. But you can absolutely put healthy parameters around it!
I know what you're thinking... but what about when it's not the appropriate time, place or person? So glad you asked, because that's what I want to focus in on today. We've been working on teaching our boys self-control from the beginning, and it's still a work in progress. What I have found to be the most helpful is pointing them back to the posture of their hearts at the time by using Proverbs 12:20 as their guide.
Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20
This verse tells us that God gives joy to those who promote peace. In our house, I'm constantly asking my boys if they are being peacemakers or troublemakers when their actions start to go sideways and the touching increases. It's a simple question that helps to point their brain back to what's going on in their heart. What's the undercurrent that's driving their behavior; is it helpful or hurtful?
I've mentioned this tactic before but it has been such a simple game changer for us. I wanted to unpack it further, to show you how we use it in these scenarios when it's not the appropriate time, place or person for all the physical touching.
Time & Place**-** Give them the time and space to play freely with their siblings or friends in the backyard, playground or in the house. They love wrestle time with daddy! When it's time to sit at the dinner table, ride in the car, eat in a restaurant or sit during library story time, that's when we pregame our expectations with them and remind them it's not the appropriate time be physical. Setting the stage for them is critical to claiming the time for peace. It's an ongoing process, so put on your patience pants. We still remind our boys every time we enter a restaurant and most nights before bedtime, and my oldest is 10. If they forget during the process we ask them, "Are you promoting peace right now, or stirring up trouble?" It puts the responsibility on them to check their heart and choose to obey.
Person - This has always been a tough one to teach because each child plays so differently. Certain kids can bring out the fun and crazy in your child and others can put them on the defensive constantly. No matter the circumstance, you can still point your son back to his heart and how his actions have changed or intensified due to the circumstances. Just like us, their hearts can change on a dime and suddenly their dearest friend becomes an enemy because they won't share a lego or give them a turn on the scooter. The same encouragement and correction from above applies. When things start to get heated I point them back to their friend or sibling and remind them that this person is more important than that toy or winning the game. I ask them if they are being a peacemaker or a troublemaker and point them to heart change.
Using this verse as a guideline for how we treat others, no matter the time and place, has had a softening effect on my boys hearts. It makes them take their eyes off the circumstance and put it back on their heart and their actions. The touching, bumping, hugging, kicking and slugging still remain, but with boundaries in place, it allows my boy mom heart to get less frustrated and more intentional with channeling that energy when things go sideways.