When we neglect to call out who our children are, the world will step up and do it for us. However, the world’s truth is often different from ours. Calling out a child’s identity isn’t about what they do, such as, “You are the best soccer player,” or “You always get A’s,” but more so about who they are, “You are patient,” “You are kind,” “You are worthy,” “You are capable.’” Calling this forth sets them up for taking on the world and the challenges set before them. The first increases pride as it focuses on their performance. The latter increases their identity as it focuses on Christ in them. Don’t we want our children to walk out the door overflowing with the confidence of who God made them to be? It isn’t about systems or hard labor but about keeping His presence through peace. Running a household is hard work, yet many hands make the work light. The smallest of hands can feel good about themselves for successfully managing things.
Many stores have cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes in their dollar section. Pick one up for each child, and instead of using them for V-day, use them to fill their tanks all year long. I would often encourage the kids to write notes of praise, thanks, or encouragement and have them secretly put them in their sibling’s mailboxes. It taught them how to be proactive in speaking love to someone and how good it feels to receive.
I would keep them and pull them back out again in the summer or fall when they need some help going after filling each other’s tanks. A great thing to bring on vacation or do during school breaks.
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.
I once told the kids I took a picture of their poop and posted it on Facebook. They were mortified. I asked them why and they said, “Because that is PRIVATE, Mom.” I put them out of their misery and told them I agreed and would never do that to them. I then explained that their God-given body parts are private too – just like boogers and poop – there is nothing shameful in going to the bathroom, but we keep it to ourselves. Children must be proactively taught by their PARENTS that #1. No one can LOOK at their private parts. #2. No one can TOUCH their private parts. #3. No one can take a PHOTO of their private parts.
Parents often share that, deep down, they are afraid if they say YES to more of God, He will require something of them that they may not want to do (like sell everything and live overseas). I want to challenge this fear-based belief and say that it is more of a reflection of one’s belief about what kind of Father He is. The reality is saying YES to the deeper things of God means you are going to have to enter a training ground of learning how to receive His goodness, kindness, and blessings as a Son/Daughter. And that, for many, is the harder work!!!!
Take an index card and write words that fit your child: ‘smart,’ ‘loving,’ ‘kind,’ ‘secure,’ ‘special,’ etc. Wrap up that card inside tissue paper and place it deep within a gift bag (or brown paper bag). Do this before you bring it to the children. Now have a stack of Kleenex or tissue paper, and one by one, as you wad it up, call out lies: ‘stupid,’ ‘mean,’ ‘ugly,’ ‘useless,’ etc. As you call out each lie, place the Kleenex ball in the bag. Do 8-10 lies/balls of paper. It’s okay to get crazy and have fun with this (they don’t know what’s coming, and the more they participate, the better the ah-ha moment will be). Now, explain to the child that the gift bag represents the heart that is in each person on earth. Remind them of the mean lies that were deposited into that heart. If a person hears that they are ugly, mean, unwanted, gross, etc., ask how they think that person will act. Keep going until they take out each lie one by one until they get to the truth card. Ask them to open it up and read the card. Explain that each person on earth has something of value written on their heart FROM GOD, their Creator. We are to go around FINDING that nugget of gold in each person. When they walk by someone at the store and say, “You have beautiful eyes,” they are calling out the TRUTH about that person. When they speak life over someone, they are calling out the good!
“Identity” is a very big word with a loaded meaning. This is just a tiny sampling of what we can teach our children about identity, but the most important thing is that they realize that there are two opposing views – what God says about us and the lies the enemy says. We need to choose which one we will believe and which one we will kick out the door – about ourselves and others.
Talk about ways we can call out the truth/good, as well as ways we deposit the lie/bad into someone’s heart. Which one do we want to be?
Black Sheep – a family member who stands out for being odd and different. They go against the flow of the family, often causing issues. The term has to do with sheep having white wool, and the one that has black wool not only stands out but typically has less value. They have been judged to have ‘less value’ alone, which tells us this term is not the right kingdom. Typically, the child who rebels against the family’s operating system does so with anger, resistance, attitudes, and conflict because they are young and immature and do not yet have the communication or skill sets to address the issues they are coming up against. But just because their delivery is flawed doesn’t mean WHAT they are trying to say is wrong. Countless times in coaching sessions, parents will come to me with the one child who brings so much chaos into the home. After we explore the situation with Holy Spirit, we learn that the child is rebelling against something in the parent that needs to come into alignment. God knits our children in HIS image, but with us in mind. Let’s not be so quick to label a child as the black sheep when God is using the purity of their heart to align something in us. Maybe they aren’t the ‘black sheep’ but the HERO of your story!
Have you ever had those days when you feel like you are constantly butting heads with a child, or they seem to be going out of their way to be a bully to their siblings, yet nothing you do seems to work? Try intentionally meeting their love language, and I bet you will see a sudden change. Children with empty tanks, even with siblings, will often fight to get it filled (obviously, in the wrong way), Love languages matter!
Ask, “Jesus, what lies am I believing about my parenting?”. I am fairly certain I know your response. No, I am not a mind reader, but I do know that the enemy throws out these seeds to all parents, hoping to get us to partner with them because it may feel or sound true. The lie you believe about your parenting most likely sounds something like the following: I am ruining my children. I am not enough. My child will grow up to hate me. I do not have what it takes.
Friends, the enemy is a liar, and you ARE enough. Not because of you, but because GOD gave you your child, and He trusts Himself to work all things out (even your shortcomings, wounds, and messes). When a parent partners with this lie, he is taking out two generations in one because a parent who believes they aren’t enough will act like they aren’t enough. If you struggle with the lie that you aren’t enough, are ruining your child, or don’t have what it takes, write the lie out and destroy it (burn it, trash it, shred it, stomp on it, flush it or rip it). THEN ask, “Jesus, what is Your truth about my parenting?” The next time the enemy throws that lie at you, counter it with what Jesus said.
Would you consider your child to be ‘strong-willed’? Then you need to be a stronger-willed parent in your resolve to equip them. Yes, these are the children who are born leaders and champions, but if they do not learn how to lead in love and submit to others, they will hurt people with their strength.
Take a balloon and blow it up as big as you can and then let it go and watch it flap all around the room. Now tell the kids that a balloon is like a heart and that we need to be actively putting good things in people’s hearts. Have them pretend that the balloon is YOUR heart. Every time they call out something good about you, take a big breath and blow into the balloon. The next person calls out something good about you, and you give it another blow. Keep doing it until the balloon is about to pop. They will all laugh and giggle; tell them that we can help people have hearts that are ready to explode with goodness by being kind and calling out the good!
This lesson was taken from our Character Counts SOAR parenting magazine. If you are interested in more activities, you can purchase your digital copy here: Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly