Category: Children

Guiding Your Children

Socrates said, “If I could get to the highest place in Athens. I would lift up my voice and say: ‘What mean ye, fellow citizens, that ye turn every stone to scrape wealth together, and take so little care of your children, to whom ye must one day relinquish all?’” In my personal study of anthropology, I have never observed a culture where parents are not expected to provide guidance to their children. Our greatest method of teaching is our model. May I ask you a sobering question? What if your children turn out to be just like you? If you would not be happy with that, then what do you need to change? Why not begin that change today? God is available to help, and so are your friends.

A Child’s Creativity

Creativity is a gift of God. All children are creative because they are made in God’s image. In our efforts to teach children, we sometimes stifle creativity in favor of conformity. Creativity is the wonderful gift of thinking outside the lines. It is our creativity that allows us to develop the uniqueness implanted within each of us.

Dr. Howard Hendricks tells the story of a child who drew flowers with faces. The teacher said, “Johnny, flowers don’t have faces.” Johnny replied. “Mine do!” Johnny’s creativity is still alive, but if his teacher succeeds, his flowers will eventually look like everyone else’s flowers. To stifle creativity is to make children look like cookies rather than snowflakes.

Letters to Children

Do you write letters to your children? Here’s part of a letter I wrote to my son after he played poorly in a basketball game.

“Dear Derek: I know that last night’s game was a disappointment to you. Any time we don’t perform up to the level we know we can, it is discouraging. I was thinking about biblical characters who also had setbacks; Joseph, David, and Peter when he denied Christ. But they all went on to be great men of God.

“I know you are not a quitter, but I wanted you to know that I understand your discouragement. I love you very much and I’m proud of you no matter how you play. You have character and that is what really counts – in playing ball and in life! Love, Dad.”

Do you have a child who needs a letter?

Spending Time With Your Children

In our society child abuse is at an all-time high. Screaming matches between parents and children are common in thousands of homes. A part of the problem is that parents and children are strangers. The instruction that God gave ancient Israel is Deut. 6:7 is still timely. God said that we are to teach our children His instructions when we “sit around the house and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.”

A bible story and prayer as the children go to bed; a brief devotional and prayer at the breakfast table; exploring God’s creation as we take walks with our children; discussing the day and listening to our children’s questions as we “sit around the house.” You cannot improve on God’s plan.

Both Teaching and Training Children

In the New Testament, two words describe the function of parents: teaching and training. With teaching, the focus is on words: verbal admonition. On the other hand, training has to do with actions. These two must always go together. One of the mistakes often made by contemporary parents is that we use one without the other. If our emphasis is on words, we say, “Let’s talk about this.” Our belief is that if the child understands, then he will obey. On the other hand, the action-oriented parent says, “Do what I say. We’ll talk about it later.” Often, later never comes. How much better if we learn to explain both what is expected, and the results if they don’t obey. Words and actions are a winning combination.

Encouraging Your Children

All children need to hear words of encouragement. The word ‘encourage’ means “to instill courage.” We are seeking to give children the courage to attempt more. We do a great job of this when the child is learning to walk. If the child falls, we say, “Yea, try again. Try again.” And the child tries again. Don’t forget this principle as the child gets older. The greatest enemy of encouraging our children is anger.  The more anger present in the parent, the more anger the parent will dump on the children.  The result will be children who are both anti-authority and anti-parent. If you have an anger problem, let me recommend my recent book, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. It may make the difference between encouraging or discouraging your child.

Praising your Children

Can you praise children too much? I think you can. First, let’s distinguish between words of affection and words of praise.  Affection focuses on who the child is, “I love you. You are so beautiful. I love the color of your hair.” These are words of affection.  Praise focuses on what the child does–something over which the child has a degree of control. “Good catch. Great job.” These are words of praise. Children know when praise is deserved and when it is given simply to make them feel good. Random praise will come across as insincere. When you can’t praise the performance, praise the effort. “You worked hard at that, and I’m proud of you.” Certainly you want to praise your children, but make sure it is true and justified.

Affirming Your Young Children

Long before children understand the meaning of words, children receive emotional messages. The tone of voice and the gentleness of mood communicate emotional warmth. All parents speak to their infants, and what the baby understands is the look on the face and the affectionate sounds, combined with physical closeness. Young children don’t understand the meaning of the words, “I love you.” They can’t see love as they can see a toy or a book. But they begin to associate the words “I love you” with the hugs and tender touches you give them as you say the words. It’s the tone of voice that they hear and they associate it with the words, “I love you.” Affirming words communicate love even before the child understands the words.

Feeling Loved as a Child

Almost all parents love their children, but not all children feel loved. Often the difference lies in the way parents talk to their children. Words of affection, praise, and encouragement communicate “I love you.” They fall like gentle rain on the soul of the child. They nurture the child’s inner sense of worth and security. Conversely, cutting words, spoken out of anger, can hurt a child’s self-esteem and create doubts about his abilities. Children think we deeply believe what we say. The Hebrew proverb did not overstate the reality when it said, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Words are spoken quickly, but are not soon forgotten. A child reaps the benefits of affirming words for a lifetime.

Loving Your Children

“I don’t ever do anything right.” Those are not the words of a child, but of a 35-year-old single daughter who has never felt loved by her mother. “I could never please my Mom,” she said. “Whatever I did it was never good enough for her. I just wish that once I could hear her say, ‘I’m proud of you.’” This daughter’s love language is “word of affirmation,” but she never received them from her mother. Does the mother love the daughter? My guess is ‘yes.’ How tragic that she never learned to communicate her love in a language her daughter could understand. Dr. Ross Campbell and I wrote the book: The 5 Love languages of Children with the prayer that it would help thousands of parents learn to effectively love their children.  Do you know the ‘love language’ of your child?