Sunday, February 25, 2018

Grace When Kids Color on the Walls


"Some of the most important things you can communicate to a child are that feelings are okay, mistakes are fixable, and there's nothing they can do that would push you away or make you love them any less." -Kelly Bartlett

I love this quote. I got to experience this all in one instance with M a couple days ago. He's 2, which means he hasn't even begun to develop impulse control yet. I'm so glad I know this because it gives me peace and perspective in those moments where it might otherwise seem like he's being downright defiant. 

I was on the potty, and M brought me a marker because he needed my help opening it. Right after I handed him the opened marker, he started coloring on the wall. I blocked him and said, "I don't want you to color on the walls, but you can color on paper."

He left the bathroom and I heard the sound of him coloring on the wall right outside the bathroom. "You're not coloring on the wall, are you?" I asked.

He ran back inside and said, "Color wall ummm..." He looked around like "Who? Me?" And then he colored on the wall again right in front of me.

I chuckled and said, "M!"

He jumped at my exclamation even though I didn't think I sounded angry at all. Because I wasn't. I understand how much fun it is to color the wall. But he started crying, wearing his sad I-feel-bad face. This face breaks my heart! I was such a guilt-ridden kid, and I never want him to feel that way.

I hugged him close and told him I wasn't angry. He cried harder. I told him the wall was okay, I was okay, I was there for him, that he was safe to feel sad. I think he knew perfectly well he wasn't supposed to color on the wall. But when you don't have impulse control, curiousity wins. Still, even with all that curiosity and developing sense of self, a two year old has the desire to please. He felt bad, I think, for doing what I asked him not to do because while he's curious, he also does want to make me happy.



Kids don't need to be shamed, blamed, and berated in order to know what's right. They have an innate sense of right and wrong. They may choose wrong out of curiosity or to push boundaries, but they aren't little villains, spoiled brats, or defiant monsters. They're good people. Sometimes sensitive people, like my M.

In these instances, they need our understanding, gentle guidance, and unconditional grace. I understand how hard that can be at times when you just want your child to listen and do what you say. I have a hard time sometimes too, especially when I'm tired. We're all going to mess up and respond harshly to coloring on the walls. (Or whatever "coloring on the walls" is for your kiddos.)


But time is a funny thing, and so is grace. Time moves forward. Grace moves us forward, and with each new minute, we have another chance to choose understanding, patience, and peace. We have a new opportunity to give the same grace we've received from the Father who is always patient with us. 

Grace means "I love you." Grace means "I love you even when you color on the walls." Grace means "I love you and nothing could ever change that."

***

Is there a time your child colored on the walls literally or figuratively? Share with me in the comments!

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