Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Facts, Assumptions and Opinions

If your kids are school age, you’ve probably already noticed that everything their favorite teacher says is a fact, regardless of whether or not it actually is. It can be funny if the new fact is that okra is the best vegetable ever, but for Christian parents your kids’ lack of discernment can quickly become problematic. Not being able to differentiate between the facts of God’s truths, and the assumptions and opinions of others can leave them spiritually susceptible to being led astray.

There’s a fun activity you can do with your kids to help them begin to discern between facts, assumptions and opinions. Grab a Bible and share with your kids the story of Hannah and Eli found in 1 Samuel 1:1-18. Ask your kids what Eli assumed about Hannah? What was Eli’s opinion of Hannah based on his assumption? What were the facts of what Eli observed? How did Hannah explaining the facts of what she was doing change Eli’s opinion of her?

Explain that if Eli had not taken the time to discover the facts of what was happening, he could have made a lot of mistakes based on his assumption. As it was, he added to Hannah’s distress by falsely accusing her. Had he chosen to tell others or deny her access because of his assumptions, the situation would have gotten even worse.

Teach your kids the difference between facts, assumptions and opinions. Find the dictionary definitions. Give lots of examples – especially for young children. For example: The fact was that Hannah was praying fervently to God. Eli’s assumption was that Hannah was drunk. His opinion of her was negative because of his erroneous assumption. Point out that keeping our assumptions without checking for facts, causes all sorts of problems. Give examples you have seen of people expecting the worst and causing problems for someone who was innocent. Or someone who assumed the best and believed a lie that later hurt them or others.

Then have fun with it. Play a game where statements are made or scenarios given. In each case, your kids must decide if a fact, assumption or opinion is involved. In some cases an assumption can lead to an opinion so in those cases they need to point out both. Older kids may want to create their own statements and scenarios to try and stump the rest of your family. For older kids and teens, you may want to read statements from social media or news articles. Have fun with it, but make the scenarios varied enough that your kids get lots of practice in discernment. Play the game periodically to keep your kids’ discernment skills sharp.

Service That Actually Changes Your Kids

Christian parents usually give their kids opportunities to serve others as part of their spiritual education. Serving regularly with your kids is a wise thing to do if you want them to grow up loving their neighbors, serving those in need while sharing their faith and living their faith on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the ways we often engage them in serving others doesn’t have the impact on them it could.

Studies have found that when young people serve others through mission trips and the like, any spiritual growth is often small and not sustained over a long period of time. Serving others as a family can have the same results, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Making a few changes can mean your kids experience real, sustainable spiritual growth as a result.

Here are some things to make sure you include when your family serves others.

  • Talk about why you are serving. Just saying your family is trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus or love others like yourself isn’t enough. Take a close look together at the ministries of Jesus and the disciples found in the Gospels and Acts. Have real discussions about why God wants His people to serve others. Talk about the ways serving others point people to God and how you can enhance that by sharing your faith with those you serve. If your kids don’t understand the true, deep significance of serving others, it becomes just another family activity which can be omitted on a whim when they are older.
  • Focus on empathy rather than sympathy. Sympathy can have an element of pride attached to it. Empathy attempts to understand the thoughts and viewpoints of others. Your family doesn’t have to agree with or condone ungodly attitudes or actions, but you can understand why those you are serving may (in some instances) have made those poor choices. It can also help to understand the stories of those you are serving. What is daily life like for them? What struggles do they encounter? Empathy also tries to find things in common with those being served. Finding commonalities makes it harder to be prideful and easier to become passionate about sharing the Gospel message as you serve.
  • Include your kids in the planning and execution of your service. Your kids will be more invested in participating in something they helped plan. It’s also great experience that will enable them to plan and execute ways to serve others independently when they are older. Even toddlers can participate in aspects of the planning process by giving them two acceptable options for some part of your service and allowing them to choose which one you will use.
  • Make serving others relational. I’m not suggesting you refuse to donate to the various collection drives, it’s just they won’t have the same impact on your kids as developing relationships with the people to whom those items will go. Find ways to help your kids make relationships with those they serve. Long term involvement in the lives of the same people can have the best long term impact, but taking your kids to help deliver the items others collect can at least give some relational aspect to your service. If meeting the people is impossible, try reading a book written to develop empathy for people in similar circumstances.
  • Encourage your kids to work on their own spiritual growth as they serve others. Serving others can be a great opportunity to work on godly character traits like patience, perseverance, kindness and more. Ask your kids to pick a character trait with which they struggle and be intentional about improving in that area while they are serving. It can help if they memorize a theme verse they can repeat while serving to remind them of their goal.
  • Spend time on reflection. It took me awhile to fully appreciate the value of a time of reflection after serving others. The lessons you think your kids learn from a service experience may be very different from what they actually learned. Talking about the experience and asking them questions about their perceptions can give you opportunities to correct misperceptions and add insight in ways they may have missed. You can also reflect on the ways you would do things differently should you ever serve in that way again. Reflection is the piece that can help make spiritual growth sustainable.

Regularly serving others with your kids is one of the best things you can do to help them start to put together all of the pieces of their faith. Making these tweaks can make the potential spiritual growth from those experiences meaningful and sustainable.

Helping Your Kids Create a Haven for Reading the Bible

There are a lot of elements that are part of helping your kids build strong faith foundations and grow to their godly potential. One of the most important is helping them establish a habit of reading their Bibles daily. That daily connection with God and what He wants them to know can help your kids stay on track spiritually, make it easier for them to obey God (because they have daily reminders of what those commands are) and help them avoid being misled by skeptics or false teachers.

In previous posts, we’ve shared all sorts of tips, including the best Bible to purchase and the best ways to help them make Bible reading a daily habit. One of the aspects of creating that habit is the visual cue. One of the difficulties of beginning any new habit is actually remembering you want to do the new thing. Often, we are so distracted by our daily routines and habits, we become distracted. Suddenly, we remember the new habit we wanted to start, but after having forgotten it for a day or two, the idea of beginning again seems insurmountable.

Visual cues are the things we place where they can’t be missed. When we do see them, the visual cue serves as an immediate reminder of the new habit – in this case, reading the Bible. Visual cues aren’t much good if your kids don’t see them every day. So if, for example, you decided placing a note on the kitchen table was a great reminder and then someone moves it to set the table, the cue was useless.

What we have found works best is a cozy little corner that not only serves as a visual cue to read the Bible, but also makes the experience look inviting. The great thing is that you don’t have to have a big house to create a Bible corner. Find a corner of a room your child will enter multiple times a day. Have them place a Bible and other study aids like a journal and pen or a Bible dictionary in the corner.

Then give them a chance to be creative and have a little fun. Maybe they want to add a fuzzy blanket or a pillow or carpet square. Younger children may want to add a favorite stuffed animal. It shouldn’t take over the entire room, but be a small little area in a corner. Teens might prefer a variation of a prayer closet, where their corner is in their closet. This only works, however, if they go in that closet daily and notice the Bible and other things when they do. If your kids spend time outdoors every day and you live in a mild, dry climate, they can even make their corner outdoors somewhere.

Hopefully, since your kids designed their own Bible corner, it will look more inviting to them. Then use our other tips to get them started, reminding them that the corner serves as a reminder to spend time reading the Bible daily. Before long, you may find them spending more time with God in scripture and prayer than you would have ever imagined.

8 Ways to Avoid Raising Greedy Kids

Entitled. Greedy. That’s how the world sees young people today. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whenever I notice a greedy or entitled child or teen, I have found their parents are almost always making one or more common parenting mistakes. Since Christianity is about sharing what you have rather than focusing on amassing more, it’s important you are doing everything you can to avoid raising the stereotypical greedy and entitled child.

So what are some concrete things you can do to avoid raising greedy kids? Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Avoid toy aisles and stores. Parents who raise greedy kids often believe it is necessary to walk through toy aisles and stores as some sort of reward or incentive for good behavior on a family shopping excursion for needed items. The truth is your kids can’t want what they don’t know exists. Constantly parading them in front of all the things a kid can possibly want is going to make your kids want them. Toy aisles should only be visited when purchasing toys for someone else.
  • Stop watching entertainment with commercials. If your kids are watching entertainment, encourage them to avoid commercial tv. When they are young, screen time should be severely limited anyway. When they do watch, PBS and some streaming platforms don’t show commercials. As with the toy aisle, your kids can’t want what they don’t know exists.
  • Discourage them from playing the comparison game. When I was growing up, the day after Christmas was spent calling friends and comparing gifts. Remind your kids that playing the comparison game is hurtful for those who can’t afford what other families can or whose families have different values about gift giving. Comparing gifts can even convince them they really, really want something that they actually don’t care about at all. They’ve just gotten caught up in the competitive aspect of the game. Teach them how to change the subject when anyone asks them, “What’d ya get?”
  • Call out greed when you see it. If your child visits Santa or someone asks for a gift list, it should only contain two or three reasonable items. If your kid creates a long list, send them back to edit it. You may also need to set price limits on the gifts they can request. It’s never too early to understand money is a finite resource that must be used carefully and in godly ways. Define greed for them and choose a great Bible verse that reminds them God does not condone greed.
  • Clearly define wants versus needs. The slippery slope to a greedy heart often begins because we think we need something we actually just want. Spend time serving the poor. Point out that there is often joy in homes where people own less than your family does. Encourage them to think about from where that joy could come. Never allow your kids to define something they want as something they need.
  • Make them pay for any items they want if they can’t wait until their birthday or Christmas for them. Tolerating delayed gratification is one of the building blocks of eliminating greed. If they just can’t wait, but are too young to get a work permit, find extra jobs they can do around the house to earn the money. The bonus is developing a strong work ethic in the process.
  • Don’t use things to soothe your parental guilt. Parents who don’t give their kids the time and attention they need often feel guilty. They think buying their kids gifts will make up for their absence. In fact it’s so common, there’s an expression…”Your kids prefer your presence over your presents.” Instead, find ways to give your kids more of your time and attention.
  • Set a good example. Have you ever really listened to yourself talk? How often are you talking about the things you need or want to buy? How often do you go shopping for fun? If your kids see greed in your life, they will often copy your behaviors and attitudes. Greed can become a habit. If you’ve been greedy for a long time, breaking the habit won’t be easy. If you want to raise kids who aren’t greedy though, you’ll need to do the work to banish greed from your own life.

God calls Christians to share everything they have so others won’t lack what they need. A greedy child will become a greedy adult incapable of obeying God in this area. Stomp out greed in your kids before it becomes a habit that’s hard to break.

Fun Family Gratitude Activity

How good is your family at expressing your gratitude to God for His many blessings? Now, how good is your family at expressing gratitude to those around them? There’s a fun activity you can do to help you and your kids be more observant of those deserving your thanks and make it more likely you and your kids will express their gratitude.

Start by having your kids design a gratitude “card”. Make it small enough so you can print several to a sheet of paper, but large enough so your kids can write a sentence on the back of the design. You may want to print on card stock to make them more sturdy, but regular paper works fine, too. If you don’t own a printer, your kids will just need to produce multiple versions of their artwork!

Now comes the fun part! Brainstorm a list of people they can thank. Maybe a neighbor who always asks them how they are doing in school. Or the mail person for bringing them their favorite magazine. Your list can be as long and creative as you would like. Then on the back of each card, you can write, “Thank you for…” and complete the sentence. For pre-writers, you can write the sentence and have them illustrate it.

Then deliver them! Afterwards, talk with your kids about the responses you got. Point out that these people didn’t necessarily expect thanks, but were so pleased and encouraged when they were appreciated for their efforts.

Make it a habit for each of you to carry some of these cards with you wherever you go. Fill them out in real time and give them as soon as someone does something simple for you. You can even make it a fun “competition” and see who in your family can thank the most people in a day or week. Over time, your family will get in the habit of noticing the things others do for you and thanking them for it.