Are you saying "Help! My child doesn't listen!" I'm sure every mother has had this thought. It's important to understand that children are not perfect. They get messy and make mistakes because they are learning. We are the perfect examples of imperfection and we call ourselves children of God. However, God's grace allows us to learn. Yet, because He is holy, obedience is not something to look over. Our children are not perfect, but we can definitely train them up in the way they should go just the way God helps us. He trains us through His word and Spirit, teaching us to mark the perfect man, who is Jesus. Rather than accepting and doing nothing about our children’s character or behavior flaws, why not make it better? Don’t look for perfection but seek to encourage growth. Even God wants us to grow. Teach them while they are young, or they will develop habits you know are wrong, and it's more challenging to break bad habits when they are older.
Have you ever heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect?" Well, in this case, let’s say “Practice causes growth.” Practice these principles to get your kids headed in the right direction.
1. Identify the flaw and decide to fight on behalf of your child. Realize it’s not too late to help him or her. Don’t disregard what you see in them, but get ready to do something about it. Their lives depend upon it. Parents should never give up on their children.
2. Examine yourself. In order to be the loudest example to your children, you must undergo surgery and live a life dependent upon God for constant improvements. Work on your own character. Find out who God says you are. Develop your relationship with Jesus through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers. If you need counseling, get the help. A better you means a better parent.
3. Ask yourself this question. Is there structure in my home? Children need structure, stability, and boundaries. Provide a safe place to learn and grow. Leave room for adventure when they are prepared. Too much freedom sets a child up to misbehave. Just enough freedom teaches your children to make responsible choices. What t.v. shows, channels, songs, books, or information are permitted to help shape the character of your child? You can't escape everything the world presents, but you can teach your child right from wrong and how to process what is presented. Here are some helpful links to videos, books, and other forms of media to consider.
4. Have rules and make them known. Print and post your rules for everyone to see. Make known the rewards of obedience and be sure to reward the good behavior. If rules are broken, then give a warning, making known the consequences if the rules are broken again. If they break a rule the second time, then follow up with the consequence. Do not back down. Children are good at recognizing passivity and will test whether you mean business or not. Consistency is key. If you do not have any of these, you can begin today. See our Free Downloads for chore charts, schedules, and family meeting forms.
5. Cover your child with prayer. Intercede on their behalf, asking God to protect, help, and keep them. The enemy is seeking to devour your children, so go to war for your family. Pull back your sleeves, take the earrings off, and get ready to fight through prayer and by being a light to your family! The fight is very real. Don’t be fooled. It's the enemy's tactic to destroy a child while he or she is young in order to prevent a strong foundation from being laid. Therefore, put your trust in God and rest, letting Him fight your battles.
6. Ask God for wisdom and receive it, discovering new ways of disciplining your children. Truthfully, parents, who do not discipline their children, hate them. Therefore, discipline is a sign of love. Many adults today suffer due to poor self-discipline, because many of them did not have parental accountability as children. Their parents did not love them. As a result, they live self-defeating lives, struggling to be successful today. Ask God to show you new ways of encouraging, teaching, and reinforcing good behavior. In turn, you will learn how to love your children God’s way. Find Scriptures that speak to the challenges and hang them in bedrooms, on bathroom mirrors, and in other places your child can read daily. Read Renee Ellison's Teachers' Secrets and Motherhood Savvy for Homeschoolers.
7. Be consistent in your training. In turn, you will find yourself giving instructions once on a given situation rather than sounding like a broken record. Rather than telling your children to "Stop ____," give them an instruction of what to do. It gives them a new focus. Once you tell them what to do, then explain what not to do. If God desires us to know what He wants through the Spirit, desiring to please the heart of God, we should desire our children to know what we expect in order to promote good behavior. If you do not communicate, you cannot expect your children to read your mind. If you do, you are more likely to react in anger and frustration.
8. Have Bible lessons with your children, sharing the principles of God that teach your children Christ-like character traits. While you are having dinner, talk about God's Word in relation to current events or challenges. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." Make it fun and enjoyable! Sometimes, we start our discussions with table talk cards or a joke book. It lightens the mood before diving a bit deeper.
9. Speak life over your children, regardless of what you see because we walk by faith and not by sight. No matter the character flaw, we speak life only. Never belittle your children! Correct bad behavior, but be sure to encourage and empower as well. Your words are shaping their esteem.
10. Allow others to reinforce what you are teaching your children. It does take a village to raise them. There are many people who interact with your child, so it would be beneficial to their development if you inform their school teachers, relatives, Children’s Church teacher, Youth Pastor, or other caring individuals of what behavior you are expecting from your child. They do not automatically know how your children should behave. In turn, your words and expectations are following your child more often.
11. Spend quality time with your children! Take delight in them. Put the devices down. When you care, you develop their trust and you gain their ears. Care before you share. Rules are good but if relationship is absent, legalism, cold interaction, and performance based approval seeking will be the results. Why would you expect them to talk about big decisions as a adult when you don't take interest in what they care about now? Play the games, take the hike, talk about what they enjoy talking about, be silly, laugh, tell jokes, dream together, get down on their level, and know you are making an investment that will produce a great return in their future.