Six Things Every Kid Needs Over Time

In the book, Playing For Keeps, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy have identified six things that every kid needs over time (Time, Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, Fun). My focus this week is on the topic of Fun (Lighten it up, Laugh it up and Let it go).

So much of life is very serious. Deadlines to meet, tests to pass, errands to run, chores to do, homework, job expectations, goals to accomplish, etc. Everyone needs reprieve from the intensity of life. Parents need to plan for times each week to have fun!

Lighten it up! Most adults have a tendency to take themselves a little bit too seriously. This intensity may be caused by your image, ego or pride. Adults need to learn how to lighten up and start laughing more. When you stop worrying about what other people may be thinking about you this sets you free to lighten it up. Kids need to have adults in their life who know how to lighten up. Too much intensity pushes kids away. Lightening up often happens through play. Be intentional to think about each child, what they like to do for fun. If something is going to be fun, it has to be fun for your child.

Laugh it up! Laughter is an indication that you enjoy being together with your family and friends. Regina Barreca, Ph.D., says “Laughing together is as close as you can get to a hug without touching.” Storytelling often brings out laughter. Kids love to tell stories about their day. Listen to their stories and you will be laughing with them. Listening to your kids tell their stories provides for them something they desire, focused attention. Kids are more apt to lighten up when their parent can laugh at themselves too.

Let it go! Adults have an agenda most of the time. They have a work agenda and a family agenda. That list that most parents have for their child to do or to achieve can be quit long. It does not make any difference how long a list you have for your child sometimes you need to let that list go for the sake of fun. Kids are much more willing to engage in conversation when they feel a parent is not staring them down. Great conversations can take place during a game of horse or playing catch with a baseball. Reggie Joiner said, “If you love kids, but don’t play with them, they may not feel like you like them.”

Think often about creative ways to have fun with your kids. They might start to think that spending time with you is fun.

Six Things Every Kid Needs Over Time

In the book, Playing For Keeps, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy have identified six things that every kid needs over time (Time, Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, Fun). My focus this week is on the topic of Tribes.

When anyone walks into a room (classroom, cafeteria, conference room) with strangers, there’s that immediate question, “Do I fit in or don’t I?” When you look at a group of people gathered in any location, from the outside looking in, there is no better feeling than to know that you belong. We all need to have a sense of belonging somewhere. Everyone needs to be connected to meaningful relationships with people who care. Ideally that would be with your friends, family or tribe. A tribe is simply a group of people connected by something in common (musician, student, farmer, mom, Vikings fan). Reggie Joiner says, “It’s as if God designed us so we would naturally connect in Tribes. Then he used Tribes over time to reveal Himself to us, and to continue to spread His message of love.” Two primary tribes that all kids need to be connected to are their family and the church. Would your child say that home is one place where he feels a sense of connection and belonging? The Covenant is one of those primary tribes where your child will experience love and acceptance. At The Covenant there are many adults committed through Child Life and Student Life ministries to genuinely care for your child.
When children experience genuine care from their parents and the church, over time they feel welcome, forgiven and a sense of belonging. Kids need to know when they are broken, lonely and wounded that there are places like home and church where they can go and know that they belong. They need to know when they look in from the outside that they will be loved not just tolerated.

How do parents build a relationship with their child? How do parents create an atmosphere of forgiveness and joy in their home? Listed below are some practical ideas:
• Playing – Take interest in your child’s world. If your child is elementary age, play with him/her in the sandbox. If your child is older, surprise him/her when they come home from school with an invitation to have supper out. Make sure you don’t have a hidden agenda! Have fun with your child in his or her areas of interest. Do whatever it takes to send the message that your child is a priority.
• Connecting – Meal time can be a great time to connect as a family. Time around the table needs to be relaxing! This is a time for light hearted conversation, storytelling and laughter. Schedule another time and place for major decision making or conflict resolution. Coming to the table should be a time to look forward to.
• Listening – Listening well to a child conveys this message, “What you have to say matters to me.” Then the child starts to believe, “not only what I have to say matters, I matter.” Listening rather than reacting creates an atmosphere of safety so children share what’s on their hearts. Think before you speak! First reactions to a child’s comments, if not handled well can shut him/her down. Listen well and be slow to speak.

We all need to have a sense of belonging somewhere. Everyone needs to be connected to meaningful relationships with people who care. Surround your family with other adults (tribes) that will love on your kids too!

Six Things Every Kid Needs Over Time
In the book, Playing For Keeps, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy have identified six things that every kid needs over time (Time, Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, Fun). My focus this week is on the topic of stories.

Madeleine L’Engle reminds us that “All of life is a story.” Reggie Joiner says, “Without personal and family stories, kids miss out on having the kind of relational history that fuels a healthy perspective about their identity.” Stories are so important to listen to and tell.

Shared stories build a relational connection with those we spend time with. The stories from our life involve some level of struggle between good and evil, the existence of the supernatural at work, and the potential of being restored and transformed. Stories help us see a world beyond ourselves. So, do whatever you can to make sure that storytelling is part of what you do with your family, extended family and friends. Read them, write them, watch them, tell them, live them and create them.

When I was a young boy I remember sitting around the kitchen table on a Sunday afternoon with my brothers, parents, grandparents, and great aunts and uncles eating a homemade meal and listening to the stories from a generation or two ahead of me. Each adult family member shared stories about how life was when they were our age. I was captivated by the details of these stories. Their stories included suspense, laughter, challenges, fun, what hard work looked like back then and examples of what the basics of life looked like (outdoor toilets, smoke house, one room schools, horse drawn machinery, hand pump to retrieve water for the house and livestock, thrashing machines and crews, kerosene lamps, etc.). The meal was over at 1:00 pm, but the storytelling went on into the afternoon. No one wanted to leave the table because the stories kept everyone engaged and captivated. Stories help us to see a picture of one’s life, care more for those we love, and give us hope because God is a part of each of our stories.

Storytelling continued with our children. Jan and I would share stories as we were gathered around the kitchen table, sharing what life was like when we were our kid’s age. When our children got older (junior and senior high age) they enjoyed listening to Jan and I share what each of them did and said (funny one liners) when they were little. This kind of storytelling extended our time around the table and involved a lot of laughter.

I enjoyed telling pretend stories (stories made up in my mind) to my kids as I tucked them into bed at night. I would tell them Ozlit stories. Ozlit doesn’t have any meaning at all. The word was connected to the number of kids in one bed and their dad lying beside them. Each person became an Ozlit. These Ozlits would go on trips high into the mountains, encounter dangerous conditions, while at the same time be looking for wild animals. The story would evolve as the storyteller (dad) would create in his mind what would be said next. Our children will periodically bring up their fond memories of the Ozlit stories. Maybe the reason their memory is a positive one is that storytelling meant that they got to stay up longer. Whatever is the reason for this fond memory, I want to encourage you to think of ways to include storytelling into your family. Stories help us to see a world beyond ourselves.

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