Grab a plastic set of ABC’s or a box of ABC crackers. Place them in the center in a pile and have everyone sit in a circle. Each player picks up a letter from the pile and has to give a word that starts with that letter about the person next to them. “A” – Ellie is always smiling. “B” – Hudson is brilliant at playing games. “C” – Lauren is caring with her dog. This helps children to get their eyes off of themselves, learn how to release words of encouragement over others and see those around them. Not to mention that after the game, everyone’s love tanks are filled to overflowing.
Before your child leaves for school, have them ask, “Jesus, how do You feel about me?” This helps them enter the building with the TRUTH about their identity. When they come home from school, and you notice them being off but aren’t sure why, have them ask again. Sometimes they just need help realigning themselves after being surrounded by spiritual orphans all day.
Every child needs to do this exercise! Do it 1:1 with each child, so you can hear their heart and pick up on any resistance. Have them outline a body on a piece of paper. Start with their hair and walk through their mind, eyes, nose, mouth, body shape, stomach, height, etc. Think of their interests and the things that make them come alive (sports, music, dancing). Write it out on the paper as you go through who they are, top to bottom. You are helping them see who they are. While we are constantly being transformed on the inside, there are some things we cannot change, such as our nose shape, eye color, height, gifts, what makes us come alive, etc. This is the package of who they were created to be. Now have them make a circle around the entire body. Explain to them that who they are is to be guarded and protected as if it is inside a bubble. Read Proverbs 4:23 and explain if any person, peer, teacher, sibling, social media post, song, friend, movie, leader, or thought tells them that something is wrong with their body, gifts, talents, etc., they are to reject it. Empower them with how to reject it. Perhaps they will take that thought captive and say to themselves, “That is not something I agree with, and do not give that voice permission to speak to me.”
When I was teaching my children this concept, Hudson (age four at the time) got up, went to the front door, made a kicking motion, and slammed the door. I asked what he was doing, and he said, “I had a bad thought, so I was kicking it out” Yeah, like that, buddy! They can write it on a piece of paper, rip it up, cross it out, or shred it. I had a season that we were going after this and put a set of colorful markers in the bathroom and would have my children write the lie on a piece of toilet paper with the colorful marker and then toss it into the toilet. The color would lift, making a beautiful swirl in the toilet bowl (isn’t that true of what God does with whatever we give Him? It turns it into something beautiful.). Teach them that there is a difference between being humble and allowing people to speak into their lives and give healthy feedback and constructive criticism vs. someone or something being used as a spokesperson of the enemy to tear down what God has built and designed. Give specific examples such as a friend saying, “Shut up. You are so annoying when you talk,” and a teacher saying, “I need for you to manage your mouth when I am teaching the class.” Both are addressing the issue of their mouth, but one is to be rejected and the other is to be received. How do they know the difference? It is generally tested by peace.
If while doing this with older children, you feel resistance or they say things like “This is stupid,” “Why do we have to do this?” “What’s the point?” Please do not back down. The resistance is telling you that they have already allowed a voice inside their bubble, which needs to be exposed. I would take it as far as you can, and then if it is time to back off (Holy Spirit will lead you), say something like this, “Okay, yeah, we can stop, but I need for you to hear this. Your resistance and wall to even talk about who you are is revealing that you have allowed a thought to enter your bubble. It is there to steal your joy, rob you of your peace, and tell you that something is wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you, and I am here when you are ready to deal with it.” I would intentionally speak their love language and look for creative ways to bring them joy because it releases a chemical in their brain that gives them the will to fight and endure hard things. Give it a few hours or a day but circle back by saying something like, “Hey, remember when I asked you to draw that picture? What was happening inside of you when we talked about who you are?” Listen to them. Do not fix or correct them but listen to what their heart has to say. For many older children, simply exposing it helps them reject it and realize that they are feeling icky about themselves because of a lie, not because something is wrong with them. Others may need to ask Jesus to show them who they need to forgive for speaking that their body, gifts, and personality are unacceptable.
Moms and dads, please do not ignore this exercise. Children who grow up with the wrong voices inside their bubble carry them around for years, shaping who they become. We can empower our children to reject lies and protect who God designed them to be.
Are you willing to put in the effort and help your child understand their value and worth?
Sometimes when parents set the bar high for standards and kids don’t measure up, they partner with the lie that they aren’t good enough. This is not about parents doing it wrong for setting high standards, but about the wrong message sinking into their heart. Children need to be called to a high standard AND experience grace for missing it. This is called childhood, which is the training ground to becoming whole, healthy, fruitful adults. Children are a work in progress and grace must be a part of that process. When a child fails to meet expectations, it becomes a great opportunity to discuss ways they can grow in their capacity to achieve different results next time and become better.
I want to remind you that if you are a born-again believer, you have a Shepherd over you in this hour. He knows how to keep you safe, protect you and lead you to green pastures. He knows when you are wandering off and how to go after you.
Years ago, we were in a store shopping when Hudson asked for a Lego set. Before I could reply, he began to beg me with intense emotion. Watching him plead and beg like a fish flopping around out of water was repulsive to my ears. I stopped him, put my hand on his shoulder, and asked, “Who am I?” He was reminded that he was talking to his mother, who fearlessly loves, provides, and protects him. The one who carried him for nine months and knows him better than anyone else on earth. The one with a track record of being kind, loving, and attentive to his wants and needs. Having his full attention, I said, “Ask me like my son, not a begging orphan,” and he quickly changed the way he approached me. He wanted the Lego set so badly but failed to see that he could trust me with his heart. I wanted him to see that he could trust me, even with the thing that mattered most to his heart at that moment, even if I said not now because I was for him and loved him. It was a trust issue, not a Lego issue.
Repent for partnering with any belief that tells you that God is not a good father or does not care.
Three of my four kids were having a blast, but one was left out. I felt something was going on and found her sitting in the other room feeling bad and partnering with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and unworthiness. What bothered me about this wasn’t that the others weren’t sharing (though I dealt with that, too), but that my child was not walking in the confidence of who she was. I talked to her about being assertive, bold, and confident that she had every right to be included (especially in her own family). I also asked if she was ready to come in and ‘confront the situation,’ not in anger, but in the confident boldness of her true identity. She meekly walked in, and I told her to go back and do it confidentially. Of course, it began as a game with lots of laughter, but she did it nearly ten times before she could walk into the room and confidently ask to be included.
In a world that constantly teaches our children who they are not, we must look for ways to intentionally teach and train them in the truth of who they are! Identity changes everything!
Ellie came to me one night with a nervous smile and tears in her eyes. I asked what was going on, and she said that she needed to come clean about an email she got from the school saying she BOMBED a math test. I said, “Okay, thanks for letting me know,” and her lip began to quiver. I asked what was wrong, and she said, “I need you to pray for me. I know it is okay that I didn’t do well, but I feel so slimed with shame right now (tears).” Can I just say how HAPPY it made me that at 13, she can catch the shame slime and be so articulate about it? We asked Jesus what lie she was believing, and she said, “Something is wrong with me (aka shame).” We broke agreement with it, and I just held her. She KNOWS it is okay not to get straight A’s every single time, and she KNOWS I would not be upset with her. But the enemy tried nonetheless to throw a blanket of shame. She wasn’t coming under it. She just needed help throwing it off. Not today, Satan.
When you partner with the pressure of perfection, you will reap anxiety, worry, and lack of joy. On the other hand, when you partner with His perfection, you will reap peace, joy, abundance, clarity, movement, and solutions in your parenting.
Someone gave Hudson a can of pop (or soda, as some of you say), and his sister commented how lucky he was. The next day he used his own money to get her one and put it on her bed with a note. It touched me deeply because, in all honesty, this isn’t his normal expression. A few days later, I inquired with him what motivated him to be so gracious and kind. He said, “Oh, she wanted to spend time with me the other day.” I have said it before, and I will say it again. TEACHING CHILDREN THEIR SIBLINGS LOVE LANGUAGES MATTERS. Siblings get their sense of belonging from each other, and when their tank is full, they naturally pour out love.
Your child’s language of love is one of your biggest parenting tools for your tool belt because love conquers ALL.