Tips for Raising Kids With Godly Self Esteem

Self esteem is an interesting topic in parenting. Christian parenting adds an additional depth to the discussion. How do you raise children who realize they are deeply valued and loved by God, but who also recognize their sin separates them from God and they need to repent? How can you raise children who are confident to use the gifts God has given them to serve Him, yet humble enough to realize those gifts come from God and are to be used to serve Him as well as perhaps to earn a living or just enjoy? How do you raise kids who have a realistic view of their strengths and weaknesses and work on improving their weaknesses avoiding using their strengths to merely gain power, control or other purely worldly goals?

It’s not easy. Many times others will intentionally or unintentionally undo what you are trying to accomplish. And let’s not forget, Satan can use self esteem that is too low or too high to help accomplish his purposes….so he’s working against you, too. That doesn’t mean it is impossible. God wants your kids to have a balanced, healthy, godly self esteem. That’s one of the reasons He gave us a Bible full of His wisdom on the topic and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Christians to help us keep that delicate balance.

If you want to raise kids with godly self esteem, here are some things you can do to help.

  • Teach them how God feels about them. The good and the bad. Teach them how much God loves them. Teach them how sad it makes God when they disobey Him. Balance teaching them about God’s tremendous love for them with teaching them how sin fractures that relationship (but not God’s love) unless they repent of those sins.
  • Help them discover, develop and use the gifts God has given them to serve Him. Understanding God has given them gifts to develop and use to serve Him will give your kids a sense of meaning and purpose. Those are both important parts of a healthy, godly self esteem.
  • Teach them their confidence should be in God, not themselves, but that God will help them live the Christian life if they will let Him. Your kids need to understand they don’t hold the power, God does. They also need to understand that with God’s help they can be more and more like the person He wants them to be.
  • Teach them how to learn and grow spiritually. Your kids need to understand life, especially Christian life, is about continuing to learn who God wants them to be and striving to become that person. They will never reach perfection, which is why Jesus had to die on the cross. The very process of learning and growing will give them a sense of progress – no matter how slow – that can also help their godly self esteem. Partially by the positive aspects of growing spiritually, but also from the humility of realizing they will never be able to stop learning and growing.
  • Teach them how to be godly servant leaders, modeled after Christ. They should be doing things to develop enough confidence to boldly share their faith, while also learning how to serve others joyfully in the humblest of ways.

Like many things in Christianity, godly self esteem is about balance. Teaching your kids how to maintain that balance will help them avoid the pitfalls of negative or overly positive self esteem.

Are Your Kids’ Assumptions Hurting Them?

Have you noticed that whenever anything happens lately, there is an almost instantaneous rush to judgment? The culture around us encourages us to assume motives without the person whose motives are being judged having said a word at times. This hasn’t just impacted major news stories either. We are encouraged to assign blame, assume motives and give consequences without waiting for evidence, often other than what someone thinks they saw or heard….from some random source that may or may not have an agenda.

The problem with rapid judgments is that they are often wrong. That person we thought was mean because he hated women, actually just got a terminal diagnoses and was distracted and grumpy. The person who cut us off in traffic was actually distracted by a crying child and felt horribly as soon as she realized what she had done.

Your kids will be encouraged by the world around them to jump to quick judgments about the motives, hearts and thoughts of people who have not had a chance to even attempt to share those things. Yet, God wants them to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. They will be encouraged to be angry with people who God wants them to love, serve and teach about Him. They will be encouraged to hold grudges and get revenge on people God wants them to forgive and teach a better, godly way of living.

The next time your child rushes to judgment or makes assumptions about things for which they have no real evidence, you might want to include these scriptures in the discussion.

  • “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2
  • ”Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1
  • ”Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7
  • ”With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
  • ”Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,”Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19
  • ”Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
  • ”Bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Colossians 3:13

There are many other scriptures you can include in your discussions. Are there people who have evil motives? Of course. Not every one does for everything they do, though. Sometimes your kids may have misunderstood the situation. Sometimes the person is not angry or mean just to them, but to everyone – including themselves. Sometimes people make mistakes or sin in the moment…even when they generally are trying to be loving to everyone. Sometimes people don’t realize what they did or how what they said sounded. Sometimes people are just having a bad day and are taking it out on everyone in their path. Sometimes people are in so much pain, they don’t realize they are lashing out at others in their pain. And sometimes people have evil, ungodly motives, but need a chance to learn about God, obey Him and change their ways.

Your kids will need to understand, they are not God. They cannot read minds and hearts. Which means, sometimes they may be right about their assumptions and sometimes they will be very wrong. They need to understand that being quick to listen and slow to speak and get angry, will help them make better choices and not add to or create a problem situation. Hopefully, they will eventually learn to assume the best motives and be prepared for the worst without deciding which motives are involved until they have all of the evidence (realizing that since they are not God, even with all of the evidence, they may still be wrong in their conclusion).

If you can teach your kids to jump to grace and forgiveness before judgment and condemnation….because they need those same gifts from others and especially God, then our world may start becoming a place where people are allowed to learn and grow from their mistakes and their sins. If they can focus on teaching people who need help finding more godly ways of living rather than mocking and destroying them, the Kingdom will grow and thrive. They won’t learn those lessons from the world around them. They need to learn them from you.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids Christian Life Skills

Christian life skills are the skill sets your kids will need to more easily do the things God wants them to do. Historically, we have taught young people God’s commands. We may have even explained what those commands “look like” when lived out in the life of a Christian. What we often fail to do, however, is to take the time to teach our kids how to do those things.

For example, you might teach your kids about how God wants them to handle conflict. You might talk about loving your enemies, forgiveness and avoiding violence. Your kids might embrace the idea of godly conflict resolution. Until the next day, when you allow your kids to work through a sibling conflict without intervention. Suddenly, they are yelling, calling each other names and hitting each other. Why? Because the Christian life skill wasn’t taught and practiced.

What if you had taken a little extra time and taught them the actual steps to resolving a conflict in godly ways? Then found fun ways to help them practice it? What if the next day when voices began to rise, you made them stop in their tracks and practice the conflict resolution skills they had learned and practiced the day before? It may take a little more time and effort at the beginning, but soon your house should be become more peaceful. And you won’t have to worry about your kids causing an escalation in conflicts at school or work either.

Thankfully, there are a lot of fun ways to help your kids practice Christian life skills. Our website has dozens of free Christian life style lessons. Each lesson has a Bible lesson, suggestions for teaching the skill and ideas for fun ways to practice them. Originally designed for teens, this curriculum can also be slightly adapted for use with older children, too. With so many activity ideas, you should find plenty to help your kids develop strong Christian life skills.

Managing Your Child’s Inner Dialogue

There are several new books out about the things we “say” to ourselves and the impact those thoughts can have on our lives. Children are not always fully aware of these thoughts. Metacognition, or the recognition of these thoughts, is critical to a child being raised in a Christian home. Why? Because these thoughts have a huge impact on the choices your kids will make. Being aware of their thought processes will give them more awareness of their ability to control these thoughts and make better choices.

So where do all of these thoughts originate? Many of them actually begin with you. That is why it’s so important to refrain from saying things like, “You are so stupid!” or “You always make the worst possible decisions!” when you are frustrated with your kids. Words have an impact on thoughts. If you use inappropriate language when frustrated with your kids – especially repeatedly – their thoughts will continue to define themselves using your words. Which is sad, because often parents don’t really mean those hurtful words – they were spoken in the anger of the moment.

You can also put positive thoughts in your kids’ brains. Be realistic though. Studies are showing that unrealistically high self esteem also produces negative consequences. Think carefully about the positive messages you want your kids to hear about themselves in their own heads. Be intentional in using them regularly to make the “tape” especially strong. Don’t forget things like, “I will always love you!”, because those reassurances will be there when they need them, too.

Make sure to put some strong scripture “tapes” in their brains. Have a few verses you regularly quote or summarize. Encourage them to memorize scripture and use it regularly so it will be part of their long term memory “tape” collection when they need it. Help them have a balance of scriptures that encourage them to make good choices and verses that remind them of God’s love, power and presence.

While you are working to put helpful “tapes” in the brains of your kids, it is crucial to monitor another major source of negative thoughts in our brains – the words of siblings. Do not ignore it when siblings say ugly things to one another. Don’t excuse it as normal sibling teasing. Teasing or not, when a thin girl is told constantly by a sibling that she is fat, she begins to believe it. Insist that siblings use kind words when speaking to each other. Don’t let their youthful meanness put negative thought patterns in each other’s brains for life.

Want to know what tapes your kids have playing in their heads already? Ask them? If they don’t know, tell them to name a huge goal they have for their future and then pay close attention to what their brain “says” in response to it. If they are already having negative thoughts, teach them how to change them by substituting a better thought every time they realize they are beginning the harmful thought. It takes practice, but it can help them make better choices if they learn to make their inner dialogue helpful and holy.

Christian Parenting Challenges #16

We are celebrating our daughter and son-in-law completing their Master’s degrees in our house. What are you celebrating? Whether it’s big or small, celebrating accomplishments and showing gratitude to God for His part make your family stronger. Here are this week’s social media challenges for other family strengthening ideas.

Monday: Did you know the sounds and spray from a fountain have a calming, soothing effect on people? Teaching your kids to pray, read Psalms, exercise, breathe deeply, listen to soothing music and sounds, do something creative and other ways to regulate their emotions in safe, godly ways will make it less likely they will want to turn to drugs, alcohol and other more dangerous ways. Safe regulating behaviors need to be actively taught and your kids reminded to use them until they become natural.

Tuesday: I read my favorite quote of the week the other day. “Emotions say hurry, while wisdom says wait.” Teaching your kids to take a few deep breaths to pray and think before doing or saying anything when feeling any strong emotions can keep them from making unnecessary mistakes or sinning. And that saying is a good one to quote to them over and over until it becomes a tape in their heads they hear when feeling emotional.

Wednesday: When I bought this plant, it was just tiny shoots. I had to have faith it would really grow and produce this flower. I also had to work hard – making the soil just right for this type of plant, planting it, watering it when it didn’t rain, protecting it from hazards. God created this plant and sent rain a few times to help, but I had to put in some effort if I wanted peonies in my yard. It took hard work and a lot of patience. Your kids are the same. They won’t somehow magically grow up to be the Christians God wants them to be. He will help you. The church will try to help you. Ultimately, though, you are going to have to spend a lot of time and effort on your kids for them to have strong spiritual foundations and reach their godly potential.

Thursday: As life returns to normal, don’t let it. That’s right. Keep those positive changes your family made – spending more time engaged with each other and God. Don’t let the business of every day life rob you of what your kids need most – meaningful time with you and meaningful time with God every day. Be careful about what you add to your schedule. Don’t overload the calendar. Say “No thanks!” to things that don’t add real value.

Friday: Marriage for your kids may be years away. The time to start talking about dating and marriage is when they are too young to date. Teaching them how to find godly people, how to avoid sinning while dating and how to avoid dating just to date (which can be problematic in many ways) can save them a lot of pain and negative consequences when they are finally old enough.