We recently had a death in the family. My aunt was 90, her time had come so there was some sadness, but mostly a celebration of life. As I brought my youngest son into the unfamiliar church, he saw a number of people in the entryway: some familiar, some not. This was a strange place. It was overwhelming. He started to move quickly from side to side, hiding behind me. His movements were fast and jerky. His behavior was not that of what is traditionally expected at a church. So immediately, my mother started to lecture, “Now, this is a church and we don’t act like that in a church...” I cut her off. “Mom, let me talk to him.”
I bent down and quietly told my son, “I know you are scared and there are a lot of people here, but you are not allowed to run or bounce around here. I will be with you the whole time and you will be safe. And don’t worry, your grandma isn’t mad at you. You didn’t do anything wrong.” After a few explaining and reassuring words he was able to hold still. He felt safe again.
It was before the service so I proceeded to bring my son into the church. I showed him the icons on the wall. We talked about who was in them. I brought him forward and showed him the casket and pointed out where his great aunt was. Again I talked to him about it and let him know he didn’t have to go closer. I showed him where we would sit. I let him know what was expected.
At times, as parents or grandparents we feel compelled to correct and lecture children, "You can’t do this and you can do that," instead of gently teaching them and showing them what they can do.
When kids do something wrong or inappropriate, how do you react?