All of these lessons are things we are still working on every day. I speak not from a perfect home, but from a place where we make God’s Word our measure of rule. We are all flawed, but if we humble ourselves and seek His guidance, training our children can be a joyful, fulfilling experience.
God will give you wisdom and insight into what your child needs. Often times He will give you creative ideas that will hit the nail right on the head and help your child conquer a struggle.
Phil 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2. Be Consistent
If you do not follow through on what you say every time then you are teaching your child that you cannot be trusted. It is vital that they know that you are being honest when you teach them.
Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
3. Remember the Goal
Your main goal is to teach your children to love the Lord and glorify Him. Make an effort to see beyond the moment and imagine your little boy as a man. Who will he become and how can you help him get there?
Hebrews 12: 5-6 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”
4. You Are in Charge
Remember, you are the adult and you have wisdom and knowledge that a child does not have. If you allow them to manipulate you and convince you that they know better, you are doing them no favors. You are not perfect, but God has given you wisdom and your child needs to learn to trust that.
Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.”
5. Choose Your Battles
This is one of the tips I have learned from experience. You cannot make a child eat, sleep, potty and speak. So I am careful not to use these as my training moments. It is best to teach them to obey you by telling them to stay in a chair or put away their cup. You can, if necessary, guide them in doing those things by taking their hand and leading them through the process. They cannot win. Once they have learned that you will follow through and you have their trust, then you can tell them to swallow their food or say thank you and they know they must obey. If they are stubborn in these areas, your only choice is to set up consequences for disobedience ( i.e. if they won’t eat their food they get no dessert).
6. Be Prepared
Raising a child well is hard work. There will be times when you are ill, or very busy or tired and you won’t be able to follow through completely. If you are in that place (which shouldn’t be often) then be careful about what you instruct your child to do. If you are sick in bed, then let the day rest with a video or coloring books. If you are busily cooking dinner, have your child stay quietly close by instead of off in another room where you can’t pay attention. If you will be on the phone for an hour, prepare your child beforehand to do something quietly. Be careful, however, about overusing movies and video games. These can lead to the destruction of your child’s character.
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
7. Know Your Child
Spend time listening to your child. Find joy in their dreams and goals. If you know their hearts and love them in the ways of the Lord, then you will know if you are doing anything that hurts them. This is especially important as they get older and are more aware of their feelings. The teen years are so difficult emotionally. You must know their heart so that you will know when it is time to begin to let them make some of their own decisions and let them fall.
Also, some children have a harder time with discipline. If you understand their struggles, you will have an easier time guiding them.
Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
You should never use anger, frustration or self-seeking to control your child. Your direction and their obedience should be a direct result of the love you have for one another. As parents, it is easy to fall into our own needs and get angry when those needs aren’t met. (“I need 20 minutes to make dinner without burning it, is that too much to ask?!”) Keep in mind that you are showing the love of the Father to your children. Be patient. Be kind.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
9. No Arguing
There is no time when arguing is acceptable. If you tell your child to do something, they should do it. If you say, “No, you may not buy a candy bar,” then they should accept that completely. Older children can appeal respectfully, as long as it is not too often. But begging, whining, complaining, moping, mumbling are all unacceptable. No exceptions.
Proverbs 1: 8-9 “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”
10. Do the Work at Home
Don’t train for the first time when you are out. Expecting a child to be still in church requires hours of training at home. A trip to the grocery store is pleasant and fruitful when your child already knows how to behave. A restaurant is not the place to teach a little one to be still and quiet. Work on these things at home, at the dinner table, in the car. Set up trial runs and teach them what you expect. One of our daughters had an especially hard time being still and quiet during church, so we sat with her every night in our laps while we talked. That way we could stop and instruct her and even let her cry without disturbing others. It wasn’t long before she was a happy toddler all through the sermon.