This is a great way to teach and train young children. When you need to instruct/correct them, instead of staying where you are and calling out to them, STOP what you are doing, go to them, and get down on their level. Place your hands out and tell them to put their hands on yours. You are not forcing them, grabbing their hands, or controlling them. You are giving them the command (as many times as it takes) to put their hands on yours. Then you instruct them to look into your eyes. If they remove their hands or lose eye contact, in a gentle but firm voice, instruct them to put their hands/eyes back on you. When they have achieved that, you give them your short command of what you want. “Mommy wants you to come to the table,” “Mommy wants you to put your clothes away,” “Mommy wants you to pick up your toy.” It is important that they follow up with a “Yes/Okay, Mom.” The purpose for that is when kids come into agreement by verbally saying “Yes/Okay,” something happens in their brain where they accept ownership. The key to using this tool is to speak to them in a gentle but firm way. It does not work well when the parent is angry or controlling, nor does it work well when the parent caves if the child does not respond right away. Few people enjoy being disrespected, and it can feel very frustrating when children ignore us. If, as the parent, you feel frustrated at their lack of listening, I encourage you all the more to go after this. Good character does not come with age; it comes with intentional parenting. Stay in the game and help your child overcome their weakness. Give them tools to grow in their capacity. This requires extra effort from you upfront, but you will reap the JOY of a child who responds to your voice.
Guilt says what you did was wrong, and the enemy counterfeits by using the tool of shame that says who you are is wrong. We do want to feel the weight of conviction for our mistakes and choices so that it leads us to godly repentance, but we never want to partner with the enemy’s lies of shame over who we are. Shame is paralyzing and incredibly toxic to our systems. It is like drinking acid. God never designed our bodies to hold onto shame.
I was in a season where I was aware that the words coming out of my mouth were critical and sharp. I am not typically one to hold a grudge or offense for very long, but it was like I was constantly calling out the bad. Little things like the man who cut me off, the person who didn’t use their blinker, or the lady who didn’t return her shopping cart. Once I said it, I let it go, but it bothered me that I even had the eyes to see it. They were things that should not require my energy or time. I became so aware of it that I told the kids I would pay them $1 every time they caught me being critical. But it only seemed to increase. I finally met with my friend, a professional counselor, and asked her what the problem was that I could not control my critical words. She said something to me that not only changed my life and set me free but became a KEY that I have used with others for their freedom. She said, “Shame HAS to blame,” and began to introduce me to shame’s profound effects on our mind, body, and soul. Shame is so toxic to our existence that it kills, shuts down, and robs us of our God-given abilities. Shame is like acid. By blaming others (my critical words), it was releasing some of the toxicity. It was survival to manage the shame. I HAD to blame. The goal, therefore, was not to manage the release of the shame but to resolve the shame once and for all. Thus began a several month-long journey of discovering the root of the shame and how to release it GOD’S WAY.
When we create cultures of silence, it creates shame in people, and eventually, it will come up as BLAME. I think one of the most unhelpful things a leader can say when someone is processing pain is that they are slandering and gossiping when they are just trying to process their pain. Not everyone comes from healthy backgrounds where they know how to work through their heart splinters, but when someone is trying to heal, let’s not shoot them down with the law of religion.
I created a ten-day online experience for others to join me on the journey of loving yourself deeper, wider, and more passionately than you have been loved before. You will watch a video teaching, and I will provide activities and exercises based on the teachings for the rest of the days. The second week focuses on how to raise children to be proactive, so they never have to find themselves again down the road.
You can register here: Moms & Dads – ONLINE CLASS – Let the Children Fly
Character, like a stake on a young tree, is what supports the fruit the Father wants to bear through each of us. Simply put, character matters because it matters to God! I’m often asked, “At what age should one start teaching about character?” My response is – character is for all ages, but the younger you start, the easier it will be to set the standard. It is much easier to teach a two-year-old about self-control than a teenager who has lived without it their entire life. If your child is able to use the word “NO!” and mean it, they are ready for character training. Often parents give young children all the freedom in the world in fear of stifling their child’s exploration and creativity, but as they get older, they begin to clamp down on their freedom. This creates a power struggle that results in a frustrated parent and a relentless child resolved to keep the unrestricted freedom they’ve already tasted. Perhaps a better approach is to empower a child with freedom as they relate to their ability to walk in self-control to manage the freedom well. The Bible says in Romans 14:17, “The Kingdom of God is… righteousness, peace, and joy…” I don’t think it was an accident that righteousness was listed first. It is hard to walk in peace and joy when unrighteous ways like selfishness, rudeness, and a lack of self-control are present. If you want to release the Kingdom of God through your children as a family lifestyle, then here is your parenting job description: Cultivate a home where righteousness, peace, and joy are plentiful because this is where the Kingdom of God is. This isn’t a one-time teaching but a lifetime of cultivating righteousness, peace, and joy in your home. Your child will have a harder time hearing God’s voice if they haven’t been taught to listen to yours first. You will have a greater challenge getting them to care about others if they have been taught that they are the only ones that matter. Parents want the fruit of well-behaved joyful children but often do little in times of peace to sow into that. No child is born with the character to change the world around them. They need to be influenced, shaped, molded, corrected, and taught intentionally.
We have a popular eBooklet called Character Counts that empowers parents in the area of character training by defining what it is, why it is important and how to create a family lifestyle around it. We also provide parents with easy, fun, hands-on activities to do with their children to go after healthy character traits. Going after this TODAY will reap fruit for a LIFETIME. Nothing opens doors of favor more for our children than good character. You can get your instant download copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly
Can you feel it? The tension with relationships, systems, church structures, and mindsets. Everything that can be shaken is being shaken.
Gather a strainer, powdered sugar, and small pebbles (or popcorn kernels). Invite the family to the kitchen and with the strainer resting on the counter throw in a pebble and call it ‘love.’ Toss in another and call it ‘kindness.’ Then dump a spoonful of sugar and call it ‘selfishness.’ Add another heaping called ‘jealousy.’ Continue to do this with the rocks representing the fruit of the Spirit and the sugar representing the things of the flesh. After a while, raise the strainer and begin to shake it back and forth over and over. As the sugar falls to the ground, explain that God is shaking things in our lives to remove the sin, mindsets, worry, fear, and flesh from us so that the only thing that remains is His Kingdom.
Read together Hebrews 12:25-27. Explain that the things that are of Him will endure the shaking and last forever, which is something we can align our lives with and celebrate. However, everything that is not of Him, or His Kingdom, will be shaken until it falls. Talk about the things in your world that God is shaking and the purpose of it. Allow the children to see that while we are enduring hard seasons, there is good behind it. How we respond to the shaking is crucial.
Hebrews 12:25-27 (MSG) – “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time – he’s told us this quite plainly – he’ll also rock the heavens: ‘One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.’ The phrase ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”
Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable Kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and He won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God Himself is Fire!
Every child should be equipped and armed with the reality that God is always with us.
I recently talked with a mom and her young adult daughter about sex and how she navigated through life, making solid choices in a world that screams otherwise. She credited it to this – she was taught sex isn’t something you *shouldn’t* do, but something you *should* protect and value. It wasn’t a ‘thou shall not,’ but rather an ‘I want to protect.’ It was a game changer for her. Sexual empowerment looks like choices and helping children see the value in making healthy choices to protect what is most sacred vs. dictating and demanding they follow a rule to govern themselves.
Like most families, we have our share of sibling issues, but something about it has always sat funny with me. It was like I could feel something working against them but could never put my finger on it. Their tones and attitudes toward each other don’t reflect the gift that they have been given. I called a family meeting and had them close their eyes. I told them we were not asking Jesus this time, nor did I want the right answer. I wanted an answer that reflected their heart. I asked them to give me thumbs up or thumbs down if they would feel something in their heart if they walked into a room and saw me in it. Everyone gave thumbs up. I asked them how their heart would feel if they saw their sister, a few thumbs halfway and one thumb down. I asked about each person, and their answers broke my heart. I was thankful for their honesty, but it pierced my heart deeply. I had them close their eyes again and asked them to give me thumbs up or down if, when they walked into a room with their peers, they felt awkward and like they didn’t belong. Each of them sheepishly put their thumb halfway or all the way down, almost surprised they were exposed to this truth of their heart. I would say all my kids are popular in that they are well-known and liked by adults and peers, yet their sense of belonging was under attack because of how they were functioning as a family. Children get their sense of belonging from siblings, not Mom and Dad. If we tolerate negative sibling connections and bullies in the living room, we are setting them up to feel isolated even amongst a crowd. I brought out the whiteboard and began to draw out our family line and how each generation has been influenced and affected by rejection. To the best of my knowledge, it started with my illegitimate great, great, great aunt who was fed rejection daily by those who called themselves family. After that, each generation hosted profound rejection between mother and child with favoritism towards one another.
I mapped out that my children will get married and have kids roughly in 2030. Their children will have children in approximately 2060, and their grandchildren will be around in 2090. Just like our ancestors of 100 years ago have affected their generational bloodline, so will they until the year 3000 – what a sobering thought. Our choices today affect future generations. We have been given a gift of life, family, and knowing Christ’s redemptive work and are called to steward it well in our lifetime. It was time to break it once and for all! We began to work as a family on our court case regarding the lack of sibling love. We argued that it violated God’s command to love each other and did not glorify His name to have such disunity. We searched for verses that backed up our case and took time to stand before Jesus, asking for forgiveness for the way we have partnered with the generation curse and allowed it to bear bad fruit. I had the children move to the same side of the room as if it were a real courtroom and had them repeat after me the court case before the Judge who judges all things. It was super powerful for all of us. One of the children heard the Judge’s gavel hit the bench, and with that, we rested our case. We put on worship music and sat in His presence together as a family. I encountered a flood of emotions as I felt the release of the conflict and was filled with His redeeming grace. Instantly I noticed a difference in the way they treated each other.
We each have a language of love that we speak and understand. It is vital we understand not only our own language but those around us. Love causes offenses to roll off our backs. Love pulls in during conflict. Love empowers others to become their fullest self. Love protects. Love is safe. Love is contagious. We can teach our children to know their language and how to intentionally put themselves in the path to get their tanks filled. Have you taken the quiz to discover your language? Has your family taken it too?
Gather the family in the family room and have the children read 2 Timothy 2:1-7. The more you allow them to participate in things like reading, the more engaged they will be in the lesson. Then, on a piece of paper or whiteboard, write out the different attributes of the soldier, athlete, and farmer. What types of character or skill sets does each of them require? What makes them unique? Think about how tired the soldier must get at times, how the athlete does what it takes regardless of how they feel, or how the farmer labors hard, not knowing if the sun or rain will appear. Read verse 7 and spend some time responding. Think over these three illustrations, and may the Lord help you to understand how they apply to you.
Teach the children the difference between light and dark. Ask them if you can turn darkness on in the light. Ask if you can turn the light on in the darkness. Hand the kids a flashlight and have them go find ‘dark places’ in the house (in the cabinet, under the bed, in the closet, under the pillows) and declare, “Darkness, I see you,” and have them shine their flashlight in the dark to bring light. Share how Jesus is the Light and that He lives inside those who have accepted Him and gives us the joy of releasing His light in dark places. Read together John 8:12, John 12:46, and Matthew 5:16. Make a point to pray and declare, “Whatever is in darkness, come into the light” as a family over your home, community, nation, and world.
When the kids were younger and had babysitters, I would tell her that if she was unsure about something, she could ask the kids, “What would your mom say/do about that?” Instead of the children feeling like they could get away with whatever the sitter allowed, it made them stop and think about what was right. It strengthened their muscle of walking in discernment and making good choices. I am seeing the fruit of this today in their teen years. Character counts!