How are you raising Christians kids like your kids? I hear this question often. Isn’t it every parent’s heart to have their children share their Christian faith as adults? Yet, so many parents are having the heartache of their adult children walking away from their childhood faith shortly after leaving the nest.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Yet, when I’m looking back on our parenting over nearly 23 years, there are a few key things that stood out to me that seemed different from my own experience growing up and from those raising children around us.
It often amazes me that amidst all of my parenting mistakes, and personal issues that I display in front of my children that they have such a solid faith in their early twenties.
I know their faith isn’t a reflection of my own faith, but their personal relationship with their Savior.
I can only give a few key things that I’m certain makes the difference in passing on our faith to our children, and seeing them walk in their own faith in a mature way that neither myself or my husband experienced in our early twenties.
6 Keys to Raising Christians
When my older two children were young, I had taken them to a park to play. An older lady was there with her grandchildren, and before long, we were talking. I don’t remember everything we talked about, but one thing she said stood out to me, and has become a motto in my parenting.
“If only more people would realize that they aren’t raising children, but they are raising adults.”
In a nutshell, the older lady was saying that parenting needs to have the end goal in mind. That is how we parents should reflect on what we want to see in our children and then work hard in developing it in them.
I remember pondering this saying for years, and keeping it as my guide in raising our children on a daily basis. Over the years, I began to picture a garden in my mind, with each child being their own garden.
With this mental picture, I began to think about a gardener and how when they plant their seeds they label them as what they will be, not what they are at the time. For example, cucumber seeds will have ‘cucumbers’ labeled over them. Tomato seeds will have ’tomatoes’ labeled over them, and so on.
The gardener doesn’t say this is where the ‘cucumber seeds are’ or ‘baby cucumbers’, but labels the garden based on the end goal in mind. Then the gardener cares for the garden based on the needs of what he is growing, taking great care to ensure that nothing of harm will come its way to becoming what he expects them to be.
Raising Christians is just like raising a garden of any kind.
Our parenting has been one where Scripture has been our tool for planting seeds of our faith. We used key verses from the time our children were babies through preschool to get the basis of why we required certain behavior at home and out of the house.
We didn’t require our children to memorize them as Scripture, but we used these as pillars in our parenting.
If a child was disobedient, I would tell them “The Bible says ‘Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.'” (Ephesians 6:1). If I needed to remind them often, I would say “Children obey your parents” as a quick reference to the verse.
After many times of using the same key phrases in these verses, our children were memorizing what ‘the Bible says about their action’.
As they grew, I would literally just ask them, “What does the Bible say about how you are acting?” Nearly every time, our children were able to come up with the right scripture to match what we wanted them to consider when they were going against what we wanted for them in the end goal.
This helped them to better understand how to judge their own actions based on their own knowledge of Scripture from a very early age.
As they grew, we added additional Scripture as pillars to our parenting, and required Bible memory work throughout their schooling years.
These seeds that we planted were molding our children into Christians because they were self-evaluating their actions, and lining it up with Scripture from a very early age.
In addition to these Scripture practices, we also read Proverbs daily until our children got into middle school, where our focus went into the New Testament strongly.
This one aspect of raising Christians is so very vital, and where many have lost their children.
When a good gardener places seeds in the soil, he does so with the utmost care to ensure that the soil is healthy for the seed to grow to the end goal. The Bible explains just how important soil is in the parable of the Sower.
As parents, we carefully protected the environment that our children were placed.
We choose friends that shared our Christian faith, when Sunday School influences resulted in our oldest learning to use a swear word perfectly in a sentence, we made the decision to keep our children with us during church services.
Although I know that homeschooling isn’t an option for everyone, it was for our family, so we took the opportunity to teach from a Bible world view on subjects that are void in the school systems today.
We live in the world, so it is important to do our part to ensure the world is not your children’s teacher. Trust me, the world wants to be your children’s teacher, so you will need to be intentional about getting to their heart before the world does with their agenda.
NOTE: If your children are part of the public school system, I would encourage you to add Creation studies as a family, and even some American History of our founding fathers, to help with the things that are pulling Christian children away from their faith. In addition, I would also recommend talking to your children about what the Bible says about sex, before the school system and students educate your children in things that tempt them away from your faith.
We were often laughed at, and shunned because of our choices with our children, but our intentional plan of being our children’s main influence in their formative years has proven time and time again to be what they needed to reach the end goal.
Plenty of Water
Plants need water, and a lot of water, to grow healthy and strong.
Children need praise and encouragement just as much as plants need water.
What we have found in our parenting is that our children try harder when we praise them before, through and after the task in front of them.
We are building their confidence before they attempt something. Then we are building their perseverance to complete the task. Lastly, we are building a sense of accomplishment when they have completed a task.
This is so important for a child learning to obey, or a teen making his way through peer pressure.
“The earlier we start being our child’s cheerleader, the easier it will be for them to look at us as their coach in the game of life, and trusting our decisions on faith.” Dollie Freeman
Along with praising and encouraging our children, we need to also learn how to be attentive to them from their first moments on, so they trust us when they are teens.
Having eye-contact with our children when they are sharing what is pressing on their heart as a two or three year old will build their confidence that you really care about the small things and trust you with the big things.
The distractions of life, the electronics that we own and our busy schedules could easily unravel the best attempts to building that bridge for a child.
Be diligent in giving your child plenty of water, and as often as you can.
Direct “Son” Light
With the pillar of parenting in place, we had set the precedent that our children should live to honor God through their actions, and that when they fail they disappoint Him, not just us, as their parent.
We literally took the weight of raising Christians off from our shoulders, and put it on theirs. The daily decision to choose Christ at an early age built the habits that are much needed when reaching adulthood.
We utilized Joshua 24:15b – “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, as our family verse to ensure that our children knew that while they lived in our home, our family would serve the Lord.
Over a period of time, through daily practice and pointing our children to Jesus for their weakness, and forgiveness, they saw that there is peace in knowing Him.
The only time we used Scripture to correct our children’s action toward us as a parent is with the 5th commandment, “Honor thy Father and Mother”.
When a child dishonors their parents and gets away with it, it is when the pillars of all other structure you have done crumbles.
It is in this one Scripture that allows us, as parents, to still be humans, walking along the same Christian journey as our children. It gives us the ability to fail as parents, and allow our children to witness the failure, but still pay honor to our position as their parents. By admitting our failures in front of our children, we are showing them just how much we still need Christ in our own lives.
Tend to the Weeds
You can’t have a garden without weeds. Any gardener will tell you that the best gardens are ones that are faithfully weeded, so the roots don’t grow deeply, and take over the healthy plants.
The weeds of the heart are no different.
Remember, it is the little foxes that spoil the vine, and it is the weeds of life that harm the heart of a Christian.
In parenting, there is always something that we need to deal with. Sometimes, it can be when your child started to tell lies, has a hard time forgiving a sibling, or maybe just struggles with asking forgiveness.
These are all weeds, and the sooner you deal with them, the easier they are to pull and the less damage is done to the healthy plants in their heart.
There has been times in our parenting that we have had to make some hard choices for a season. Times where we needed to remove our children from relationships that creating more weeds than we could keep up with.
Hopefully you don’t have any of those experiences. If you do and you aren’t sure what to do with the situation, I highly recommend removing the weeds, for your children’s sake. Keep the end goal in your mind, and it will help you to make the best decisions for your family’s faith than anything else.
Re-Pot for Growth
If you have ever grown a house plant, you may have some experience with re-potting plants for growth. It is so important to the roots of a plant to have room to spread out and grow.
If you don’t re-pot a growing plant, you can actually be stunting its growth, or causing root decay and kill it all together.
A child’s faith is very much like a growing plant.
It needs the opportunity to stretch their faith to grow strong roots.
I want to be sure you understand that I’m not encouraging you to send your young child into the mission field at 6 years old. I known a family who actually thought that doing that with their child at a young age in their neighborhood was wise, allowing play time at the unsaved neighbors home time and time again.
Sadly, that resulted in the opposite way. The unsaved family converted their Christian son, who is still not walking in faith today.
What I am encouraging is allowing your children the opportunity to act out their Christian faith, in your care, to those they can minister to in your circle of trust.
They can recite Scripture, sing songs they are learning in church, make cards for the sick, visit neighbors, do kind acts for their neighbors and most of all share their faith with anyone that will listen.
We have allowed our children to openly talk about their faith wherever they go, and praise them for doing it.
The more they practice, the easier it will be when it matters the most. One day, they could be witnessing to a future Christian and that my friend, is the end goal, isn’t it?
Raising Christians isn’t easy, but with these keys you can become intentional in the areas that we have seen reap the harvest with our children. These were the things that we were doing differently than others around us, and our results were also different than those around us.
There are times when my older children talk about their faith and standards, and I stand in awe because many of their standards aren’t ones that we expected of them, or even mentioned to them.
They are walking in their own intimate relationship with their Savior, and as their parents, we are blessed to know that the fruits of our labors were blessed in such amazing ways.
Keep up the good work, mama!
Sharing activities for kids is a great way to help children overcome selfishness, and foster a love of sharing with their siblings and other children they encounter during their day. The more a parent takes strides to build character in a child, especially before the opposite character flaw presents itself, the easier it can be on both the parents and the child.
Sharing Activities for Kids
I often see children and adults, even in my own family, prefer themselves over their siblings or friends all the time. The lack of caring for others is prevalent in our society, but most parents just don’t know how to teach their children to share. I’m hoping that these sharing activities can become part of your parenting, and making this character trait become second nature in your family.
Communicate Sharing In Your Language
I love using vocabulary very early in a child’s life that will help them identify their actions with words.
At a very young age, even before one year, a child demonstrates sharing naturally. They love to feed people their food, hand them their toys to play with them, and even take turns naturally.
I have found that saying things like ‘Thank you for sharing with me’, ‘You are so sweet to share’, and ‘You are being so good to share turns with me’, will build a connection to sharing and their actions.
However, when parents aren’t using these natural tendencies as opportunities to build character on natural behavior, they create extra work for themselves down the road.
Encourage your children as soon as they can talk to tell others ‘Thank you for sharing’ whenever something is given to them. If you go to someone’s house and they feed you, be sure to thank them for sharing their food. If children shared their toys, be sure to have your children thank them. If someone spent their time with you, thank them for sharing their day with you.
The more a child can connect words and actions together, the activities of your day will open up the understanding to them quicker.
Donate Toys and Clothing Often
Nothing will teach sharing as easily as donating toys and clothes to families in need. This can become a family tradition a few weeks before Christmas to clean out unneeded toys and clothes. Sharing what you have with others that don’t have anything will be a life lesson that will last a life time.
Perhaps doing this around a child’s birthday is another time of the year that sharing can be demonstrated.
Nothing says sharing like borrowing from others. A great way to illustrate this is with a library card, and showing your children the importance of taking good care of someone else’s things and taking them back in a good time. We have a special place just for library books, so we don’t lose them in our house (like we have in the past) and we take them back on time.
Another sharing activity is to borrow from friends.
Does a friend have a movie, toy or puzzle that your children really love to do when they go to their house? If so, talk with your friend about doing a borrowing swap for a week or two, at the most. The children borrow from each other, taking good care of their friends things and returning it when it was first decided.
Do you ever meet friends at a park, and pack a picnic lunch? A great way for kids to learn sharing during a time like this is to alternate snacks, and have the children pass out the snacks, as a way to share with each other.
Slides, swings and monkey bars are a great way to learn how to share by taking turns. Children love to be first, and have a hard time identifying how long they have had turns. A good way to help them learn this is to use a timer for swings, and other things at the park that take more time than others, and when the timer is up, it is the next child’s turn.
Playing Sharing Games
Sharing toys may be hard for a child, especially if they are new toys or favorite ones. In my parenting, we have found that creating a game around toys help children to really share even their favorite things with happiness.
Ball – Roll or kick the ball back and forth to each other.
Car or Truck – Roll it to each other, or build a road, and share the driving of the vehicle. One child is responsible for one area of the road, and the other child is responsible for the other portion.
Doll or Barbie – One child can care of the baby, while the other one gets a meal for the baby read and then take turns caring for the baby.
Other toys – divide the pieces, or parts.
Coloring – put a pile of crayons in the middle and have them pick their color. If they want the same one, put a time limit on that color so everyone can use it.
These are great sharing activities for siblings or friends to do together often, and will make a big difference in how they interact together.
Read Books About Sharing
A great activity to help cultivate a love of sharing with your children is to spend time reading them books that will help them learn to identify what sharing looks like, and what selfishness looks like. Books are powerful to children, because it helps them see how things looks in their own world.
Be sure to take time to discuss their thoughts about the book, to help them process the meanings and actions associated with sharing.
One thing that children need to learn NOT to share is germs. Have you taught your children how to keep their germs to themselves? If not these tips will help…
Are you wanting to raise your family on scriptures, but not sure where to really start? I would love to share with you some great Bible verse resources that you can easily add to your daily routines that your children (and you) can easily memorize and learn from even in a busy lifestyle.
In my own walk of faith and parenting, I have found that the more I have used scripture in just conversations with my children the easier it was for us to memorize and allow scripture to take root in our lives. However, unless you know the verses already this may be hard to implement right away. My heart is to help you identify the key verses that have been most instrumental in our home and help you make a difference quickly.
Bible Verse Resources
Children as young as one and two-years-old can learn to memorize scriptures. I have accomplished this by using key scriptures that pertain to things that this age group deals with daily. As they struggled in one area, I would just recite that portion of the verse they needed to hear right then, not necessarily focusing on the reference, just the words of the verse. I share how to do this in my book, The Blueprint Approach.
Bible Verses for Toddlers and Preschoolers
One of those verses is “Children, obey your parents in the Lord”. There are some other verses that I would use at this age to help them build a relationship with God, and help them really concentrate on building good character because of this parenting way.
Having these verses as tools in our parenting has helped us navigate the challenges that toddlers and preschoolers bring into a day.
Learn about the other verses perfect for toddlers and preschoolers!
As you are adding the Bible verses to your day, you will want to put more of a focus on Bible with your younger children. If you haven't ever done this before you may benefit from my tips for implementing Bible memorization.
If you are wanting your children to really enjoy the Bible, you should take a look at these posts:
More Bible Verses for the Family
As your children grow, so should your supply of Bible verses to present to them as often as you can. We continue with adding scriptures to our parenting that will help our children understand what they are dealing with in their life, and why we believe what we believe.
One of my favorite verses for our family is “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I have several other ones that I share in my top 10 verses for a family to memorize.
When our children are reaching their teen years, we like to point out what the Bible says about ‘gifts’, and draw their attention to the God-given gifts within them. We have also used these printable Bible verse cards at Christmas time, to put the focus on spiritual gifts more.
We have our children work on Bible verse memorization early, and we do that with scripture cards. I have put 32 of our most used verses in one resource for other families to quickly and easily learn how to implement these into their own home.
As our children move into high school, we focus on teaching the Bible differently then we have in all of the earlier years, and we do it with the Charlotte Mason way as our guide. Our desire is to have our children own their faith, and never feel that our faith was focused on them. With two adult children who openly share their faith with others, we believe these changes at this time in their lives has been instrumental in these results.
I share a lot about how we have raised Christians from their babies years and beyond while highlighting the keys that I feel were instrumental in growing a true faith in our children that they called their own as adults.
Bible Verses for the Woman of the House
Staying strong in ones faith is always a hard job, but with the right tools in place, it makes it easier to accomplish.
I share some of my favorite verses in these two posts:
I found out that my dad had lung cancer, I felt that fear that is ever present during this eye-opening diagnosis. I’m a positive person by nature, but when it comes to my family, fear can really get my negative thinking working. I knew I needed scripture to keep me positive and relying on God through his treatment and healing.
It was during this time that I wrote 31 Bible Verses for Families Affected by Cancer. I wrote that post for myself, and my family to have scripture every day of the month to build our faith and keep our eyes on our Healer. This post has been one of my top posts since writing it, and as I see the number of people reading it, my heart says a prayer as they know too well the fear, and struggle to walk by faith. My prayer is that these verses are a comfort to them, as they have been to us.
I pray that these resources help you to pass on the legacy of your faith to your children in a way that feels natural and has lasting effects.
Teaching children to ask for forgiveness can take a much longer time, then teaching them to forgive. No one likes to admit they are wrong, so apologizing can be a hard a thing, regardless of the age. It is especially true if asking for forgiveness hasn't been something that you have grown up doing.
Teaching Children to Ask for Forgiveness
If you listen to people who aren't comfortable about admitting their wrong, whether it was intentional or by accident, they will tell you ‘I'm not good at apologizing'.
This response is one that I have heard time and time again. My own husband has said it to me many times when we were first married. The good thing about it is the more a person does it, the easier it becomes.
All this proves to me that ‘asking for forgiveness' is something that must be taught to be part of a person character. The longer a person ages without this ability, the more they struggle with the simple acknowledgment of being wrong, regardless of the motive or lack of one.
Teaching children to forgive is the best time to start, and is easier than you can imagine!
- Identify what they have done wrong. Many times children are not aware of what they have done wrong, until they have learned what is offensive to others. Each of us are created with selfish inclinations and it is only through focused learning that these traits can be identified. I would say something like, “Taking that toy away from your friend is being selfish. When you are selfish, you are not a good friend, because that has hurt their feelings.” This empowered my children to understand why not sharing could hurt their friend.
- Ask them how it would feel if it was done to them. Young children live with their whole hearts involved in all they do. Being aware of this, I have used this in asking my children what they would feel like if the same action was done to them. They are often quick to seeing why it hurt the other one and are more likely to work on being more kind because they have been able to associate with the feelings.
- Start with God's forgiveness. My children have learned at an early age that God's forgiveness is so important to making our actions better. When my children have hurt another, we have them ask God to forgive and help them to do better next time. When they have prayed and are forgiven they feel so much better.
- Require a genuine apology. Once they have prayed for forgiveness, an apology is so easy for them to ‘ask for forgiveness'. Our children have grown using, “Will you forgive me for __________?” verses the normal “I'm sorry” that is part of our culture. I may be silly in doing this with them, but in my experience a call for forgiveness is so much easier to walk through than a generic ‘I'm sorry'. The harmony it brings between them proves it to me.
- Examine Their Own Actions. As parents, we are quick to tell our children what they have done wrong. As my children grow past the formative years, I start letting them stretch their wings by having them identify what actions need to be apologized for and with whom they need to seek it. We call this ‘confessing your sins'. It is always easier when someone points out to you where they offended you, but it is very important for people to learn to discern their relationships and how they interact with each other.
The best way to teach children to ask for forgiveness is to be an example. I can't tell you how often I have had to apologize to my children for my lack of self-control when raising my voice, or not giving them my full attention. When they see me apologizing, it makes it clear in their mind what it looks like, and how it makes the other feel for being cared for in this way.
I have even had my children overhear me apologizing to friends for my short comings, so they can see how it is done with people outside of our own house.
If you like this post, you may also like 20 Phrases Children Should Learn to Say…
Teaching children to forgive may not be something that you would think about when it comes to parenting. It may be just part of your day, or not anything you really spent time thinking about as a parent. Don't overlook the importance of teaching your children the purpose and meaning of forgiveness, and how it can be one of the best things they can do for their own happiness.
Teaching Children to Forgive:
The younger you start teaching your children the better. The formative years (birth to five years) are the best time to introduce things that will make up their character.
With a few things in place, forgiveness will be something that becomes second nature for your children.
- Use the vocabulary – The term ‘forgive' is a strong word, far different than the substitue ‘it is okay', which is used when an offender apologizes to the offended. Teach your child at a young age to say ‘You are forgiven' because this goes straight to the heart and softens the offended.
- Embrace each other – In our family, we hug each other when forgiveness is being given, as an act that goes further than words. When you teach children to forgive, they normally desire to embrace the other naturally, so encourage this precious act to further aid in the process.
- Reinforce the Forgiveness – In a life of a child 5 year old and younger, the offenses usually comes from acts of unkindness, not sharing or in many cases, accidents. Some children have a hard time ‘forgetting' that they forgave the other person. This is okay, as we know the heart takes time to heal when it is offended. To teach children to forgive, we also need to help them walk through the lasting affects that may still linger if their hearts are still hurting. Reinforce this forgiveness by talking about the good things the offender has done for the hurt child and walk through the healing with them.
The more a child has the opportunity to use “I forgive you” in their own experiences, the likelihood of them walking through life without bitterness and hard feelings. Holding on to grudges and past hurts have been proven to more harmful to that person in the long run.
Your children's future will be happier from adding this one phrase to their own vocabulary, knowing how to do it on their own and making it a habit for life.
If you like this post, you may also like 20 Phrases Children Should Learn to Say…
Leading your child to a strong faith can be very difficult in today's culture. Knowing a few key things to do this from the start of their life can really help you teach them to look to God for all their needs.
Leading Your Child to a Strong Faith
Parenting is hard work. It seems like we are always teaching our children something important. From sleeping through the night, potty training, eating their vegetables, coloring in the lines, sounding out words, reading, being kind to others, picking up their toys, how to dress themselves with matching attire, and the list just goes on and on.
It can be exhausting to think about every aspect of what we teach our children from birth through adulthood, and beyond.
One thing that we need to be intentional about through it all is leading your child to a strong faith. I know easier said than done.
It doesn't have to be that way. It really doesn't!
Our oldest two children are adults, and both of them have a strong faith in our Christian beliefs. In addition to these two children, our other two, one a teenager and the last one just starting out in his education career also have a strong faith.
None of our children hide their faith, and in fact, they are very proud to tell others that they not only believe in God the Father, but Jesus Christ our Savior. They freely share of their profound faith in the literal days of Creation, and can point out the differences in creation and evolution, where their peers are intrigued and persuaded to believe the opposite of what they have learned in school.
I would love to share with you how we have ensured our children have had a strong faith, and willing to stand up for what they believe in any environment.
I always sang about Jesus when my children were babies. I would rock them to sleep singing “Jesus Love Me”.
God and Jesus have always been a part of our every day. They understood earlier that God sent His son to die for us, and that Jesus forgives us of our sins. They would hear me using these top 5 verses and have them memorized very early because of it.
Teach Them to Pray
Prayer is the most important thing you can teach your child to do at an early age. There is nothing like watching your child of only a few years, stop to pray to ask God to help find something or to be able to do something.
One area that we have really focused on to teaching our children is to ask for forgiveness through prayer.
Read Bible Stories Together
I have favorite Bible stories that I have taught to my children, some my daughter enjoyed best, while others were more enjoyed by my boys, although they learned them all.
There has been a lot of things that I have read to my children and have them read to me, but these are my favorite for this age, and early reading stages.
Teach Them About Creation Early
Stories of Creation, Adam and Eve and Noah's ark are more than just Sunday school stories. They are the foundation of the Christian faith that is being attacked and forgotten in our culture today. The earlier the children learn about these aspects of the Bible, the stronger their faith will be, but you must continue on this learning especially in the middle and high school years.
Those who do not focus on their children understanding this part of the Christian faith can easily cause their children to fall pry to the evolutionist and atheist views of college professors.
Memorizing Scripture is really important to a strong faith for any age. The more a child memorizes the more likely their faith will get stronger and stronger as they grow. I recommend these top 10 verses for families to memorize together.
Demonstrate Your Faith Daily
Children learn best when having the example of what it means to have strong faith played out in front of them. Recognizing when you are wrong, asking forgiveness for those around you and from God, and memorizing scripture are perfect ways to walk the talk for your children.
This is the seventh post in the 2016 Homeschool Review Series, and it comes with the seventh giveaway…
One winner will receive ONE of each of these products:
- How Do We Know God Is Real
- If I Were a Puzzle
- Good Morning, God
- Good Morning, God Coloring Book
Lying starts young. As hurtful as it is to see your precious child being dishonest, every child does it. What is really important for parents is to learn how to accept it as a part of growing up, while teaching them the dangers of lying and guiding them to always speak the truth.
Gently Leading Your Child Away From Lying
I will never forget the first time my oldest started lying. She was just four years old, and the reason she lied made no sense because it wasn't important either way. However, in her mind, she thought it was important to be dishonest to me.
It was very unsettling to see that without hesitation she looked me straight in the face and lied to me about something so trivial.
It made me wonder if I was just unaware of other times that she lied to me and I just wasn't paying close enough attention to her, giving her the courage to make it a habit. Sadly, lying was something that we had to work through for several years and it was always when she felt that she was going to be in trouble for her choices.
As our second child started this human reaction to undesired consequences, it became apparent that we needed to do something different on how we dealt with lying and the effects of them.
Those changes were just what was needed to make a lasting effect (and I will share them in a minute) but sadly, the lack of attention when our third child came along found that lies were left unchecked, and habits were growing deeply.
Once I realized that he was in fact lying (he was a master of it early, and I'm so hurt that I didn't see it sooner) about little things without any body language or hesitation, I knew that we had some work a head of us.
I sat down and had a heart to heart talk with him, shared scriptures from the Bible on the consequences of lying and how they can effect those that you are dishonest with on a continual basis.
It didn't take long for him to acknowledge that he lied everyday, about all kinds of things for no reason at all but to lie. It was only then that he accepted the damage that he has done to the trust that is so important. With that he acknowledged that it was his responsibility to rebuild the trust but not without the love and care of his parents who held him accountability for his choice to be truthful in all that he did or say.
It was during this same time that our fourth child was approaching his own trial of lying. We realized that the daily examples of lies from our third child had caused an example for him to feel it was acceptable for him to lie over the smallest things, as well.
As parents, it was time to roll up our sleeves and gently lead our children to truth.
How to Gently Lead Your Children Away from Lying
You can easily walk through the important aspects of ‘why truth is so important' and ‘why lying is so damaging' with the easy to remember VOWELS of Dealing With Lying.
A – Accept That Lying Is a Natural Reaction to Consequences
Every person has told a lie, even George Washington and Honest Abe. It is part of life, and it starts early for most people. There would be absolutely no reason for a person to lie if it weren't for the natural reaction to the concerns of the consequences of an action. The more times that a person is unchecked by another, the easier it is for that person to resort to lying to avoid the consequences they dread.
It is really a natural reaction and it is very important that children understand that it is part of a human life. It is right, but it is normal.
It doesn't make them a horrible, wicked person because they tried to avoid consequences. It just makes them human.
Sadly, adults do this every day in their dealings with other adults. It could be that our observant children have witness someone else getting out of consequences by lying or fear itself drove them to do it.
Either way, you need to be sure to not shame your child into feeling different than you when you were a child.
E – Explain How Sin Can Grow When Left Unchecked
Lying is a normal reaction to consequences but it is still sin. A child needs to understand how sin can grow into habits when consequences aren't put into place to help them overcome this natural tendency.
It is imperative that parents understand their own role in unchecked lies and how easily they can grow when we remain busy and distracted by our other responsibilities. It is our responsibility to be discerning of our children's behavior, and reactions to the behavior.
Help them to understand that together you will work to break the habit of lies, and work to keep truth in all that you both do.
Setting up consequences that the child understands will be the result if they choose to speak lies in the future. Always have them repeat what the consequences will be, and if necessary right them down as a reminder for both of you.
Depending on how much of a lying habit your child has, you may want to consider reminding them of the consequences for lying when asking them a question that you feel may result in them wanting to lie to get out of other consequences.
Be discerning when you are talking to your child about subjects of previous topics that he or she would lie about.
Always speak in a loving and trusting tone, where you child feels safe confiding in you of their wrong actions. The more you demonstrate your love to them the easier it will be for them to open up to you with truth regardless of the consequences.
I – Introduce Your Child to ‘Trust'
Children need to understand the power of trust and what it really means. They don't just need a definition of trust, but a demonstration of just how important it is in a relationship and when it is broken, how hard it is to put trust in another person.
The perfect way to show them this is having them stand in front of you with their back turn to you. Have them close their eyes and fall into your arms without them looking. Repeat this several times, always catching them. Point out how easier it is for them the more they do it.
Without them knowing, place pillows on the floor while they have their eyes closed and looking straight ahead (another parent may have to help do this part) and just like the other times have them fall back into your arms. This time, don't catch them.
Have them get back into position, and do it again. Only this time, keep the pillows there where they can see them, while ensuring that you will catch them and won't let them fall. Ask them how they feel inside.
Do this a few times until they are feeling more comfortable and trusting you again. Next, have them remove the pillows and get ready to do it again. Ask them how they feel now that the pillows aren't there.
Your child will have such a power demonstration of what it means to trust, and how it feels when trust is broken.
Take sometime to discuss how this is no different for those who are lied to again and again. It is just harder and harder to trust someone, when you broke the trust.
U – Understand That Lying Hurts the Liar
Once a child can completely understand how trust can be damaged or broken when a person is lied to, you need to turn the table to how it makes the person telling the lies, known as a liar, feel when his truthful words can't be trusted.
They need to understand how a habit of lying can change how others see you, and that hurts the liar more than anyone else.
It is harder for them to have friends for a long time, and even when they are telling the truth it is hard for others to really believe them because trust has been broken and not repaired quick enough.
A perfect illustration of this is the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
O – Observe the Feelings of Guilt and Shame Verses Responsibility and Ownership
It is really important that children are able to identify their feelings. When a child first starts tries out lying, they feel a sense of guilt and shame. The danger is if a parent is too busy or distracted to pick up on this uncomfortable reactions a child has when lying, they begin to ignore these feelings and perfect their skill of deceit and dishonesty.
As important as it is for children to learn how to identify their feelings, but they should also understand why these feelings are there in the first time. To do that, they should be encouraged to observe how feelings make them react. When a child is happy, they jump or smile. When they are sad, they cry or frown. When they are scared, they seek security and a sense of protection. When a child feels guilt or shame, they often seek alone time or change the subject.
If they understand why feelings make us do certain things, they will understand why lying isn't something that they should do and their conscience already knows that by their reactions.
Also have them observe how they feel and react when they demonstrate responsibility or ownership for things that they do right and wrong. There is a sense of relief when someone knows that they did something that they were hiding. It is truly the beginning of healing, and it comes in the form of just ‘feeling better' about the situation. They need to understand that taking responsibility and ownership over something is healthy and always the better thing to do.
Check out this for more parenting advice about dealing with lying.
When these steps, or VOWELS of Dealing with Lying, are worked through with children of all ages it is one of the most gentle ways to lead your child to truth, and leave the habit of lying behind them.
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If you have a toddler or a preschooler you can understand how important it is to build kindness in the formative years. With four children, ranging from 5 to young adult ages, I know first hand how beneficial this focus in parenting can help you on a daily basis.
In addition to teaching my children great scriptures to aid them in their natural tendencies that this age group faces, I implemented other things in building kindness in toddlers that proved to be beneficial.
How to Build Kindness in the Formative Years
Building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers is such an easy task, if you are consistant at the start of seeing the opposite in their actions. If you start after bad habits are already formed, you will have a harder task in front of you, but still one that can be accomplished. Regardless of where you are with your toddlers or preschoolers, these tips can really help build kindess in them.
- Teach Vocabulary in Context – Only use the word or derivatives when working on building a character trait, so the toddler can begin building an understanding of what the word means. For example, “Suzie, you are being so ‘kind' to share your toys with Bobby.” And the opposite, “Suzie, you are being ‘unkind' (or not kind) when you don't share your toys with Bobby.” Repetition of using the word and its derivatives, in different situations, helps the youngest of child to understand its meaning and the actions associated with the words.
- Play games for Illustration – Play is a strong teachers and one that easily can be used to teach toddlers the concept of the character trait being worked on. Consider this twist of these game that can be fun and exciting for the whole family to play: everyone sits in a circle (like in Hot Potato or Duck, Duck, Goose) and you have an object that will be passed from person to person. You will need one person who sits out and is blind folded or cannot see who has the object in their hand. The group in the circle will pass the object around while the ‘person in charge' tells them to ‘be kind'. As in Hot Potato, they want to move the object quickly. When the ‘person in charge' wants the object to stop, they would say ‘be unkind' and the person holding the object must hold it and not ‘share' it. That person is out and becomes the new ‘person in charge'. You can do the same idea with Duck, Duck, Goose, but change the words to Kind, Kind, Unkind.
- Great books for Kindness – My favorite character building books are Captain Kind from Character Classics and Character Sketches
- Always Praise Kindness – A child thrives on praises, so don't underestimate the power of pointing out the smallest acts of kindness. The same should also be said of pointing out unkind acts as well and having appropriate consequences for the undesired acts.
Remember, consistency is key to success in building kindness in toddlers and preschoolers.
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What do you visualize when you think about responsibility? Does your little ones come to mind? Learning how to build responsibility in the formative years will help your children develop the necessary life skills to be successful and appreciated.
What mom wouldn't love having their toddlers and preschoolers learning about responsibilities? Building responsibility isn't that difficult with a few steps that have proven to work with my four children and should be able to work with yours.
How to Build Responsibility in the Formative Years:
- I start YOUNG – Honestly, the best way is when they are too young to know that ‘work isn't fun'. The age when toddlers want to do everything you do is the best time to start training responsibilities in your children. Having them participate in your chores makes them feel grown up and part of the family.
- I do NOT expect PERFECTION – I give them responsibilities that aren't needing to be perfect. Adding praise more than showing them where they missed, which creates a desire to keep helping around the house. Often times, when the children were completely unaware of what I was doing, I would go behind them and touch up, if it mattered to me.
- I invite them to be a part of WHAT I'M DOING – Observation is a great teacher. Having a young child observing and attempting to do what you do is the best way for them to grow up with the skill from a young age.
- Creating a fun CHECKLIST – My children have loved checking off things and using stickers when accomplishing things. You can start with having a picture to represent their responsibility, i.e. bed for making their bed, toys for picking up toys, table for setting the table, dog for feeding the pet, windows for cleaning windows (my 3 year old LOVES this job and has now claimed it as his responsibility) and clothes on the floor for picking up their clothes.
- Praise them ALL DAY LONG – Each time your toddler or preschooler does a responsibility, praise them for the job they did. The praise is one of the best fuel you can give to your child when building responsibility in them.
I encourage you to start small and have fun. Before you know it, you will have a responsible toddler or preschooler helping you around the house with a smile and asking if they can help you with more.
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If you have a little one in your home, you know that patience is not something that comes naturally for them. They have been trained from birth that when they needed or wanted something that it was provided quickly. No wonder that patience in toddlers and preschoolers is a character trait that is lacking. However, it is important to build patience in the formative years, and this post will help you learn how.
How to Build Patience in the Formative Years:
These are things that we have used to train our children in the habit of patience. What is really important, and humorous, for this character trait to take place in our children is for the ability for parents to demonstrate patience as well.
- Build their ability to wait – As our children get around two or three years old, there is a shift in things that they desire and demand from us. It is around this age that we begin to have them wait.
- Introduce the concept of time – Start introducing things that part of their normal routine that they have to wait for. “Daddy will be home in a few minutes… in an hour”; “Church is in 3 days”; “You get a cookie after you finish dinner”. The more they have the concept of time, and having to wait for things, the more patience is being built.
- Demonstrate Self Control – When patience is difficult, we require our young children to sit with their hands folded, which is known as ‘self-control‘ in our home. This also gives them the ability to calm down and relax a little bit to gain some focus on the ability to being patience.
- Do activities that require patience – Having a child learn that patience is required for much of our daily activity, can really make learning this character trait easier. A few activities that have helped a lot when learning patience are baking cookies, make ice cubes, planting flowers and boiling water. The more they learn about the process of time to learn something, the more they will be patient when they learn how to ride a bike, read or learn to form letters.
- Make Patience a part of your vocabulary – The more you speak about patience in toddlers and preschoolers the more they will grab the understanding of what it means. “You only need to be patient a little longer and Daddy will be home”; “Be patient for a few more minutes and you can enjoy one of the cookies we made”; “While you are patiently waiting for the ice cubes, why not look at some books“.
- Praise every progress – Little ones just love hearing praises for even the smallest things that they are learning. Encouragement for even patiently waiting for 2 minutes will result in increased patience the next time it is required. You can't over use praise!
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From my parenting experience, I would say that building self-control in the formative years is just as important as teaching obedience and attentiveness. Most parents desire their children to display this characteristic but are stumped in knowing how to teach it to them, especially at the toddler and preschooler ages.
How to Build Self Control in the Formative Years:
We all desire our children to display self control, and we desire it, too, but may not know how to demonstrate it or to teach it to our younger children. These tips are from how we build this habit in our children from an early age.
- Add ‘self-control' to their vocabulary – Many children do not understand what ‘self-control' means, so I would start by adding it to their vocabulary by not only using it, but by pointing out examples of people using self-control, as well as those who are not.
- Start young – You can never start too early when it comes to teaching character traits in your children. You can begin adding the vocabulary to their words even before they begin to speak.
He was demonstrating ‘self-control' so the birds would not fly away when they approached the feeder.
- Incorporate physical things that aid them in gaining ‘self-control' – We have always used the folding of the hands or putting their hands in their pockets to help them gain ‘self-control' when they need it or when the situation requires it. I love having my children put their hands in their pockets when we go shopping. To this day, my oldest old son walks with his hands in his pocket when we are shopping from the years of having it be required.
- Praise them when they display ‘self-control' on their own – Once habits are formed and they begin working toward displaying ‘self-control' be sure to praise them for a job well done!
- Invest in resources that will help you teach character – Our family uses We Choose Virtues because it is fun and easy! (Here is a review about We Choose Virtues) We also invest in wholesome videos and great books that will encourage them to build great character in themselves.
One exercise that benefits young children in learning how to have self-control is in how they play with their toys. This post may help you teach your toddler (or preschooler) to pick up their own toys, while learning how to demonstrate self control while playing.
Toddlers are known for their disobedience, strong will and throwing fits to get their way. As a parent, our job may feel like an overwhelming feat that you may not be even sure of how to get from point A to point B without losing your mind. Learning how to build obedience in the formative years is crucial for not only for the parents, but especially for the child.
Experiencing four completely different personality as toddlers to raise, I will tell you that teaching obedience is NOT that hard. If you give your full attention to teaching obedience, you will have a child that ‘knows right from wrong' and understands that with each choice there are consequences. Consequences come in beautiful packages if they chose the right decision and consequences come in undesirable packages if the wrong action was chosen.
How to Build Obedience in the Formative Years:
- Both parents and all care givers need to be on the same page. A toddler will quickly learn that adults divided are easy prey! You remember going to one parent and receive a ‘no' and deciding that the other parent will probably say ‘yes', which they would. Children learn quickly who the ‘yes' parent is and will begin to manipulate that parent.
- Consequences need to be the same from both parents and all care givers. A toddler understands the natural world of consequences from a very early age, even before they say their first words. We teach them this within the first months of their lives. If they cry, they get held, feed, changed or played with. If they throw a toy or pacifier, it will get picked up regardless of how many times they throw it. If they get dirty, we clean their hands, face, or the whole body. Reason is something an infant is able to do naturally. We, as parents and caregivers, are doing a child a disfavor when they begin to walk or reach that toddler age and we ignore this knowledge of consequences and forbid it in our parenting or caring for a child. If all the adults who are responsible for a toddler can communicate the appropriate consequences (remember there are both beautiful and undesirable) for the actions of toddlers and be prepared BEFORE the actions present themselves, this stage of teaching obedience can be easier than you expected. “United we stand, divided we fall” is a perfect slogan for the toddler stage. (consider sharing this post with the care givers, grandparents, other family members, so all loved ones can grow together for the sake of the child)
- Visual Aid is the Perfect Tool for Teaching Obedience. When you begin this process, give your child the beautiful consequence of praise. When a toddler disobeys, you will have all ready decided the consequence for him and can quickly administer the consequence. No praise, just the understanding of why it was a wrong choice or ask them why it is wrong and then follow through on the consequences.
- Restoring a Toddler after Disobedience. This step is CRUCIAL to all of us, especially a toddler or child of a young age. If you do step 3 consistently, administrating both beautiful and undesirable consequences, the toddler will show quick steps toward obedience. However you must never skip the step of restoration after a undesirable consequence was administered. To restore a toddler, a child or an adult, is simply allowing the individual the opportunity to confess their disobedience, explain why it was wrong and allow them to apology to the person wronged. The person wronged must allow the individual the opportunity to express this part of learning and in return the apology needs to be accepted and then praise should be given for doing the right thing. Once this step is complete, move forward and do NOT dwell on it.
- Use Obedience and Disobedience in your Vocabulary. Our children have heard me say again and again, “You can choose to obey or disobey”. Then they also hear me state which I see them doing, with either a praise for choosing the right thing or correction for choosing the wrong thing. The more we use the words in communicating with our children, the faster they will begin to understand what is expected of them, and what it looks like in their world.
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