playing the grace card

In the last few weeks we have found a new way to get through to OBoy about bedtime and the rules thereof. The punishment route was just not working. He continued to get out of bed and break other rules around bedtime in the face of consequences. Then, we had a good night and I felt like he deserved a reward for the good choices he had made the night before, so I gave him a sticker in the morning and told him how proud of him I was.

Hello, light bulb moment. Reward for good behavior = good behavior.

So now, any morning after he obeys the bedtime rules, OBoy gets a sticker first thing when we get downstairs from getting up and getting dressed. This has worked fabulously for a while. Obviously, we still have slip ups and battles here and there, but O man is it worlds better than it was for a while.

One of those battle nights happened last week. I heard little feet running around upstairs when they should have been under the sheets, so I went up to talk to OBoy. I told him that I was very sad and that he wouldn’t be getting a sticker tomorrow morning. O, his face, you guys. He was genuinely heart broken. He cried. I comforted him some, but by the time I left his room he was still pretty distraught.

A few minutes passed and he was not on the road to recovering. I went up again to talk to him. The moment I opened the door to his room, he apologized to me unprompted. He seemed truly repentant and saddened by his choices.

I took the teachable moment and I ran with it.

We talked about forgiveness, about how God forgives us and how we are supposed to forgive like God does, and how to forgive is to make the bad choice go away. And we talked about grace. We talked about how it is God’s kindness, his love, his grace that is how He forgives us and how we can forgive others. It was so beautiful. We sat there on his bed, OBrother already asleep in the crib next to us, and we dove deep into the love of God. I tried to frame The Eternal in a way that made sense to the preschool mind. Thankful, so thankful for the opportunity to do so.

We established that because OBoy had apologized and wanted to do better next time (repentant), that he was forgiven, his bad choice was gone, and that he still had the chance to get a sticker tomorrow morning.

What an amazing image. I pulled up his sheets, kissed his head, and left his room, heart full.

A few minutes pass, and I’m back downstairs.

::pitter patter pitter patter::

The unmistakable sound of toddler feet racing across the floor overhead.

I move quite quickly up the stairs and open the boys’ bedroom door. It was not all the way open before I hearĀ “I sorry, Mommy. Now it gone and you forgib me and I can hab sticker tomorrow.”

O, boy.

12 Responses to “playing the grace card”

  1. Jessica W

    Ha! I love this. I’ve had similar experiences with my daughter as we’ve talked about grace. I know she will “abuse” it until she’s mature enough to understand but what a picture of how we, too abuse God’s generous grace. Still, it’s so important to start teaching them about his gracious love now. How sweet that you are having these conversations. Grace to you as you continue to navigate bedtime! : )

  2. tricia

    O man … he is one smart little cookie! Rock on for him understanding but as I often remind my hubby, parenting is just one big lesson in trial & error … and repetition … and reiteration … and lots of other things. :) Hugs, mama. You’re doing an awesome job!

  3. Meagan

    Love this! We’ve had the same results – we explain forgiveness and grace, and he acts like he gets it until he’s ready to engage in the offending behavior again! Ha! At least we’re talking about it and that surely make a big difference.

  4. Kasey M.

    You know I got to the paragraph where you are explaining grace and I thought to myself, “Oh dear now he’ll never stay in that bed.” Here’s to hoping that he fully grasps the concept sooner then later. You’re definately working toward that goal!

  5. Kayla Bartikoski

    Such a great opportunity to show him God’s grace, great story and reminder , Thanks !

  6. Melanie

    I don’t usually comment but this was such a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes and then made me laugh. Thanks for sharing a teachable moment! I have a two year old and a ten month old and I look forward to their understand of grace deepening. Right now our bedtime battle is wanting more books read. He asks for more “Jesus”. :) It feels somewhat wrong to tell him No Jesus! lol

  7. Whitney

    Oh my goodness…his sweet little heart. It’s so encouraging to know how much of that concept he’s understanding. I have a hard time knowing with my 2 year old how much he’s understanding about Jesus and why we don’t want to disobey and do bad things. We’ve learned not to underestimate his intelligence :) I hope bed time gets easier…until then you’re teaching so well, very valuable lessons! Keep it up Mama! I love reading and seeing your love for the Lord!



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