Thursday, May 26, 2011

Planting Seeds of Faith

Q. We have a 5-year-old son and want to know how best to share our Christian faith with him. How do we help our son understand what it means to accept Christ as his Savior and Lord?

A. What an honor it is to answer this question for you. There is no question more important than one about the salvation of a child. Rod Marshall, VP of Counseling for ABCH&FM/Director of Pathways Professional Counseling, has a very informative answer for you.

"As a Christian parent, you think about sharing your faith with your child or children. While the thought may bring excitement and hope, for many it can also bring nervousness and anxiety.

There are some things that parents of very young children can do, however, to begin planting seeds that may lead to their children accepting Christ as their Savior and making Him their Lord as they grow older. These things are also valuable for older children and teens as they search for God or learn how to live the Christian life.

  • Make sure you have an active and healthy spiritual life. You cannot give away that which you do not possess. Do you pray and read your Bible regularly? Do you share your faith as part of your lifestyle? Do your children know you do these things? You should not practice the disciplines of faith as a show for your children, but if they are an integral part of your life, your children should know why you practice these habits.
  • Allow your child to participate in living out your family values. Buy Christmas for a family in need and let your child choose the toys. As a family, seek out opportunities through your church or a local charity to minister to others.
  • Pray with and for your child. Teach them Bible stories and sing to them. Read more here about the Power of Parent-Child Play.
  • Display the joy that comes from Christ-centered living. Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to God’s people. We cannot always be happy, but we can always be filled with joy.
  • When there is disagreement in your family, someone needs to be punished or things have gotten rocky, ask yourself if you are exhibiting the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If you are not, ask God to allow you to display them during challenging times. Your children learn volumes about your faith and values when they watch you deal with struggles.
  • Practice Ephesians 4:29 where Paul says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Strive to choose only words that will build up your children and spouse.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about your faith. Explain to your child why you value your faith.
  • Find a community of faith (a local church) that will join with you and walk alongside you in raising your child to become a mature Christian. Pray for your children’s friends and their families. Seek opportunities to connect your child with children whose parents hold the same values as you do.
  • Finally, make sure you are living out your values. If someone was watching you, would they know by the daily decisions that you make that you are a follower of Christ? Do your children learn honesty and integrity and hospitality and charity by watching you?"
With these ideas, your children are sure to see your faith lived out daily. Remember, children learn better from observation rather than lecture. Teach your child through your actions by walking with Christ daily and through your words by explaining why you walk with Christ. If you have any questions about today's blog or want to post a comment please do so below. We would love to answer any specific questions you might have.

*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.

If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL US: askanne@abchome.org
or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top Ten Parenting Tips to Build Resiliency in Kids

If you are looking for our article about Helping Kids After Disaster, click here.

Two week ago we had an article how to raise resilient children. This week, we want to provide you with a Top Ten list of ways to teach resilience.

1. Be Empathetic with your child - kids need to be validated and understood. We are not saying you must agree with your kids, but it is important to acknowledge their point of view. When you are being empathetic with your children, you are also teaching them how to employ those skills in their life. This will help them in future relationships. Say things like, "I know you really want to have a cookie right now, but dinner is just a few minutes away." You acknowledged what your child was feeling, but still communicated a limit.

2. Communicate with respect - ask yourself the question, "How would you feel if someone talked to you like you talk to your child?" Would you be likely to listen to what they have to say? Regardless of how your child is behaving, they still deserve to be treated with respect. If you communicate with respect to your child, you are teaching them that even if they are upset or angry, it does not give them license to yell, scream or say mean things. You must model this for your kids.

3. Be flexible - it is important for you teach and model there is more than one way to solve problems. Be willing to listen to their suggestions and avoid power struggles. This will not spoil or overindulge your child; rather it teaches them flexibility. Given where you can and allow them to have some input into the problem.

4. Give undivided attention - schedule time in for your kids. Find 5 or 15 minute fun activities you can do with them. Any undivided attention helps a child to feel special. When a child feels special it will increase their self-esteem and self-image. Read here for more information about The Power of Parent Child Play.

5. Accept your kids for who they are - it is so important to the life of a child that you accept them for their personality and interest. Do not attempt to change your child if they are shy or quiet. It is okay if they do not want to play piano or cannot shoot a basketball. When you accept your child for who they are, you communicating that they have worth and value in who God made them to be.

6. Give Kids a chance to be helpful - kids learn by doing. If you want to teach your child to care for others and be compassionate, include service project, mission trips, or giving opportunities in their day to day lives. By getting them to think about someone else, you are teaching them the concept of empathy. Adopt a compassion child, give to your local children's home or serve together. They will learn responsibility and altruism.

7. Treat mistakes as learning experiences - avoid shaming your child for their failures or mistakes. Instead, let those experiences be teachable. Make sure to stay away from comments that put your child down, such as, "Your a bad kid" or "You always make mistakes" or "You never learn". Instead, focus on the behavior by saying, "That was not a good choice" or "I know you can do better than this". Then work with your child to brain storm how they could have handle it differently. You are giving them hope and instilling confidence in them that they can make better decisions.

8. Stress your child's strengths - make sure you are pointing out all the good things about your child too. Take this challenge: For the next 30 days, point out one thing your child is good at. It can be his personality strengths, abilities, skills, qualities, etc. Your child won't know what is going on.

9. Let your child solve their own problems and make decisions - if you want to raise a child who knows how to be a problem solver, you have to let them try on their own. By stepping in and taking care of their problems for them, you are communicating that you don't think they can do it. But by allowing them to fail sometimes and encouraging them to keep trying, you are communicating they can master the skill. You must show your child you have confidence in him before he can have confidence in himself.

10. Discipline to teach - the word discipline is derived from discipleship. Discipleship means to teach. Our goal is to teach our children how to live right in the world and to build them up so they can share with others. Use your discipline as a time to teach your child. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."

Don't forget to read more about resiliency here and take the Resiliency Mind Set Quiz.

This list is taken from Brooks and Goldstein's Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in your Child (2001)