Fun Way to Help Your Kids Remember Scripture

Whether you are having family Bible studies, your kids are reading the Bible independently, or both, if they don’t remember what they are exposed to, it can’t help them. Studies have found that drawing can help improve memory. Instead of pulling out all of your art supplies, why not teach your kids a fun little variation that only requires pen and paper?

Some kids naturally doodle when listening, while others will be new to the idea of doodling. It’s important to define doodles as little scribbles, so there isn’t any pressure to be an artist when doodling. Teach your kids to pick out a key verse or idea from a Bible passage they think would be helpful to remember. Then encourage them to jot it down and draw a doodle next to it.

The doodles need to mean something to the child, so each of your kids might draw something different for the same verse and that’s okay. Verses that don’t have something concrete in them may prove a more challenging doodle to create. If they struggle with how to doodle an abstract concept, talk about a doodle that might represent the idea, like a heart for love.

If they enjoy doodling scripture, they may get to the point where the doodles themselves have enough meaning that they don’t need to write down the words, too. They will also pick up speed over time. Encourage them to try doodling a sermon and see if they can capture the main ideas.

There is at least one doodling devotional journal you can purchase if you want a little more structure, The Devotional Doodle Journal by DaySpring. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you want the extra structure it can help. Each two page spread is a scripture and a doodle prompt with space to create the doodle. The main downfall is since doodles are a bit personal, the one they chose for a particular scripture may not be as meaningful as something else to your child.

Have fun with it. See if you can guess the scripture by merely seeing their doodles…or if they can guess one you have done. Use it as a fun way to encourage independent Bible reading and memorizing or at least remembering the summary of scripture passages. Every child won’t find it helpful, but for those who do, it can make a huge positive difference in how they engage with scripture.

Christian Parenting Challenges #8

Spring has started here. You may be still waiting for the Spring thaw, but Spring is coming. Here some tips, ideas and encouragement from this week’s social media challenges for you to consider.

Monday: Spring brings hope to many. Your kids need to know they have hope even on the dreariest of winter days. Their hope is in Jesus. Finding ways to explain that regularly in age appropriate ways is key to helping them see and feel that hope regardless of how things are around them.

Tuesday:Research has found hospitality is a key component of homes that raise faithful, productive Christians. It doesn’t have to be a fancy party either. Having your kids’ friends over to play works just as well.

Wednesday: Time is fleeting. It has a way of being filled without us really knowing how. You have to be intentional with your time and use it wisely if you want your kids to have strong spiritual foundations and reach their godly potential.

Thursday: We don’t understand royalty today like it was understood in Bible times. That can make it very difficult for your kids to understand what it means to make God their King. God is not a ceremonial head of state living in palaces and having fancy crowns to wear. Your kids need for you to teach them what it really takes to make God King and Lord of their lives. They may not learn it anywhere else.

Friday: The Bible tells us creation points to the Creator. Spending time in nature can help you point your kids to God and give you lots of time for great talks on those hikes.

Teaching Kids to Take Responsibility for Emotions

Has one of your children ever said something like, “He made me mad!” We often ignore those types of statements in our attempts to get to an accurate description of the events that are causing our current parenting issue. In so doing though, we may be encouraging our kids to ignore the responsibility to manage their emotions.

Personal responsibility isn’t very popular in the secular world. Excuses, blame and other strategies are often used to allow people to escape responsibility for their actions. Christianity, on the other hand, is all about taking personal responsibility for your actions, attitudes and thoughts and repenting of them when they are ungodly or sinful.

Emotions, or at least the intensity and the resulting actions taken because of the emotion, can be controlled. Your kids choose to allow something to not only bother them, but make them angry or even enraged. That is a choice. They can just as easily decide to let the incident go with immediate forgiveness, which they have probably done under similar circumstances at other times.

As Christian parents, we need to constantly reinforce that while the initial emotional reaction may feel as if it cannot be controlled by us, the intensity and our reaction to those feelings absolutely can and must be controlled. Learning how to recognize and de-escalate a personal emotional state is an important part of self control. Taking responsibility for creating a more positive emotional reaction and/or forgiveness is a choice. Choosing positive, godly reactions to another’s words or behaviors that may have initially caused us to begin feeling a certain negative emotion is a choice that can be made.

It won’t be easy. You are probably still working on it in your own life. Acknowledge how difficult it can be, but also reinforce that because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t expect us to continue working on it. Share strategies that help you and encourage older kids to share strategies they find that help them (which may also help you). If you can get your kids to accept personal responsibility for their emotions, you will be helping them have greater self control and make better choices in negative emotional states. It’s definitely worth your time and effort.

Note: In some cases, children with certain special needs or mental health issues will need the additional help of a medical professional. This post is not intended to minimize those situations, but rather encourage parents to work with their children on managing their emotional states and actions within those states.

Heart Questions for Your Kids

One of the main differences between secular and Christian parenting is that secular parenting often focuses on the outward behaviors of a child, whereas Christian parents are focused on the heart of their child. It’s not that behaviors and attitudes don’t matter to Christian parents. They have merely learned from the ministry of Jesus that so called good behaviors can cover a heart that has no intention of worshipping and obeying God.

Since God looks at and judges hearts, we need to be concerned about whether or not our kids’ hearts belong to God. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability Jesus did to perfectly know another person’s heart. Our kids aren’t necessarily going to freely offer the information we need to know about whether their hearts are gradually moving towards or away from God. We must use a lot of different parenting tools to try and get the most accurate picture of the hearts of our kids.

One fun way to get a glimpse of your kids’ hearts is to ask fun thought questions. While secular parents also use these same kinds of questions at times, your purpose is different. Often secular parents use these table talk type questions to generate interesting conversations. Or out of curiosity about their kids’ opinions.

As a Christian parent, you want those things, too. You also, however, want to later analyze the answers to see if they give you any clues about your child’s heart. You can Google and easily find hundreds of free table talk questions that will be fun and engaging for your kids. How do you go about analyzing their answers for clues about their hearts? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about their answers later.

  • Was their answer just for fun or was there an underlying attitude, character trait or thought process to consider? Let’s say the question was about whose life would you want to live for one day. Two kids may answer the question the same way, naming a popular music star. The “why” part of their choice is the most important piece of the answer. Did they choose that person because it would be fun to sing well in front of a lot of people, or because they want the lifestyle of having everyone give you everything you want? The first answer may actually reveal your child has an interest or even a passion for music. The second answer may reveal a heart that is focused on self more than others. You shouldn’t read too much into just one answer, but a pattern along with other behaviors can indicate a heart issue.
  • What underlying attitudes or beliefs might their answer reveal? This is somewhat subjective, but you are looking for patterns over time.
  • What changes in answers do you detect over time? Asking a hundred questions in one encounter is not as helpful as asking a question or two regularly over a long period of time. Do their answers show a shift in attitudes or beliefs over time? For example, do their answers appear more selfish or less selfish over time? Kids are rapidly growing and changing. You want to catch negative trends before they become entrenched attitudes and beliefs that pull them away from God.
  • Do their answers reflect deeper level thinking? If your kids can never explain their answers, answering the “why” part of the question, it may reveal that they are doing little if any metacognition – recognition and analysis of their own thought processes. If they don’t become aware of their thought processes, it will be extremely difficult for them to recognize when they are being tempted and to take steps to avoid sinning.
  • Do their answers reveal ignorance of important Bible knowledge? You can make some of your questions about information in the Bible. For example, what three people in the Bible would you want to invite over for dinner? Or which Fruit of the Spirit do you think is most helpful in your life? If your kids can’t name three people in the Bible or don’t have a clue what the Fruit of the Spirit options are, it reveals an ignorance of important Bible knowledge. It’s a sign they need more Bible instruction at home than they are currently receiving.

Have fun with it. Don’t make your kids feel like they are being interrogated. Don’t critique their answers in the moment (You can have those conversations later.). Share your own answers, too. Mix in some silly questions. Analyze the conversation later on your own or with your spouse out of the hearing of your children. Use the information you learn to teach and help mold their hearts towards God. It’s another great tool in your parenting toolbox.

Christian Parenting Challenges #7

It’s been cold and snowy for much of the country this week. Spring is just around the corner though. Here are this week’s social media challenges to encourage and inspire.

Monday: Thankfully, there are no written tests in parenting! It’s important to stop periodically though and examine whether your parenting techniques are getting the results you had hoped. If not, find mentors or books to give you better strategies. Don’t wait until your kids are adults. Reflecting as you go can help you make crucial changes as quickly as possible, avoiding potentially negative long term consequences.

Tuesday: A friend of mine just put out a cd with classical music for people who are melancholy, to encourage reflection and healing. Did you know music has an impact on your kids’ moods? Sometimes a few peppy tunes will put everyone in a better frame of mind. Worship music can help teach your kids scriptures. Playing music in your home has lots of positive purposes. So crank up those tunes!

Wednesday: Sure it’s cold where you are, but it’s not too early to start growing seeds with your kids. Old plastic take out containers (with clear lids) make great greenhouses. Growing things is great for teaching your kids about God, and working with them on their patience, perseverance and responsibility. The resulting flowers or vegetables can also be used to serve others. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can move the plants to pots. (We even grew cucumbers in a pot on our deck last summer!)

Thursday: Many kids enjoy experiencing something new or different. To them it’s interesting and fun. They may not be excited about trying these chips, but many of the stories in the Bible are awesome to kids! Adults forget how amazing these stories are because they have heard them so many times. Kids haven’t though and these stories are new and interesting. Your attitude should be excitement in being able to share these stories with them for the first time. And don’t forget all of those short obscure Bible stories they will probably never hear at Church. God wants them to hear those stories, too.

Friday: Is your home a Philippians 4:8 home? You don’t have to have a lot of money to surround your kids with things that are good, pure, lovely, positive, etc. Life is full of negativity, your home doesn’t need to encourage engaging with dark, negative content unnecessarily. You may just find the joy in your home increases as you fill your space and time with positive things. What are some things you do to be a Philippians 4:8 home?