Top Tips for Raising Loving Siblings

If you have more than one child living in your home, you are familiar with the “natural” sibling dynamic. Siblings who are close, loving siblings usually have parents who have intentionally worked with them to help them develop a positive relationship. Left to their own devices, they are more likely to squabble, fight and generally dislike one another.

So what do these intentional parents do to help their kids have a loving relationship? Here are some of our favorites.

1. Teach your kids God wants them to love, serve and be kind to each other.

2. Remind your kids your family is a TEAM for God.

3. Teach your kids each one of them has special gifts from God they can use to serve each other, your family and God.

4. Do not let your kids use ugly words when speaking to each other.

5. Do not let your kids tease or say ugly things about each other.

6. Teach your kids how to end conflicts in Godly ways.

7. Encourage your kids to express their love for each other regularly.

8. Help your kids think of ways to encourage and serve each other. Encourage them to do these things regularly.

9. Do not treat one child with more or less love and kindness than your other children.

10. Work together as a family on service projects, sharing your faith and family projects.

In addition, you can study some of the following scriptures with your kids and talk about what they mean and how to live them: 1 Corinthians 13, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Peter 3:8, Proverbs 18:19, Galatians 5:22-23

Easy Ways to Teach Your Kids How to Share Their Faith

If the surveys are accurate, Christianity has lost sight of its primary mission. Before Jesus left Earth after his resurrection, he gave his followers a command that applies to every Christian since then. Our primary directive? To teach others the Gospel message, baptize them and teach them how to obey everything Jesus commanded. Yet the vast majority of Christians aren’t familiar with these verses in scripture, much less are they obeying them.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can break the negative cycle by teaching your kids at a young age how to share their faith. When children are taught to do something at a young age and are given lots of practice, it becomes very natural to them. It’s difficult for them to avoid doing those things. Your children need to be able to share their faith as easily as they breathe.

Sounds great, but what if you are unsure how to share your faith personally? What if you don’t know how to teach your kids how to share their faith? Thankfully, the basics of faith sharing are fairly simple.

  • Teach them how to ask questions to create a connection. When they meet someone new, can your kids ask questions to help them find things they have in common with the other person? Many kids do this naturally, but if your child struggles, give them some tips and guided practice. Others are more likely to listen to your child share his or her faith if there is an emotional connection.
  • Teach them how to find out where someone is spiritually or share something non-threatening to start a spiritual conversation. Sometimes, people will initiate a spiritual conversation with someone they know is a Christian. At other times, it can be quite natural to ask them if they are a Christian or where they attend church. Many times, your kids will need to look for natural ways to take a regular conversation and turn it towards more spiritual things. Your kids don’t have to do this in every conversation, but they need to learn how to recognize an opportunity someone gives them to talk about God or how to be intentional about creating an opportunity to talk about Him. This is another area where brainstorming and guided practice can help.
  • Teach them how to take the person from where they are spiritually one step closer to God. Maybe the person needs a Bible or an invitation to church. Perhaps they are ready to study the Bible with someone. Maybe they need to have a question or doubt answered. Your kids don’t have to have all of the answers, but they need to learn how to figure out the next step in someone’s spiritual growth and how to encourage them to take it.
  • Teach them the overarching story in the Bible. From Creation to the Fall to waiting for Jesus, his arrival, ministry, death and resurrection and the origins of the church, your kids should be able to explain God’s perfect plan, how sin disrupted that and how Jesus gives us a way to be restored to God. They don’t need to memorize every detail in the Bible or a script of some sort, but they should be able to explain the overarching story naturally, in their own words.
  • Teach them how to explain the need for baptism for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lots of Christians avoid teaching about baptism – going as far as to teach Acts 2:36 and 37, while carefully avoiding verse 38. Why? Who knows, but if you and your kids read the book of Acts or notice the example Jesus himself set, baptism is necessary to become a Christian. Once most people understand that, they willingly comply if they want to truly obey God. Any objections are more process oriented- like what will I wear – than actual objections to obeying God. Teach your kids to be brave, but willing to listen and address any concerns.

Need more advanced help? Our website (www.teachonereachone.org) has free faith sharing tools under volunteer resources as well as a free baptism study with leader guide, when your kids are ready to study the Bible with someone. Feel free to use any resources you think will help your kids. Let’s break one of the cycles that is shrinking the church. Prepare your kids to share their faith. You may just be surprised how much fruit they bear.

Including God in Virtual Learning Days

Gone are the days when snow, water outages or pandemics meant children stayed home with no academic responsibilities. Virtual learning means school continues – no matter what. There are several hidden gifts in those virtual days, however. Cutting out travel time and extra curricular activities means your kids have extra free time in their days. Why not claim some of that for God?

There are lots of great ways to add activities that encourage your kids to spend time with God and learn more about Him. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Take a snow stroll. The Bible tells us God’s creation points us to Him. Snow changes how the world looks, sounds and even smells. Take your kids for a stroll, asking them to point out the things that are different from a regular non-snow day. Older kids may enjoy taking photos that show the beauty of God’s blessing of snow. Over a cup of hot cocoa after your walk, ask your kids why they think the things they saw could point people to God.
  • Practice academic skills with a biblical framework. Our website has tons of activity ideas tied to Bible stories and academic skills like language arts, math, second languages, science, health and even survival skills. Look around for some skills your kids need to practice. Have fun teaching them the connected Bible story and doing the activity. (http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/)
  • Have a family devotional. What better time to start that family devotional habit? Our website can be searched for family devotional ideas or use some of the activity ideas on our ministry website.
  • Serve one of your neighbors. Make some soup or homemade bread for a neighbor. Offer to shovel their sidewalk. Find ways for your family to serve others around you with some of your extra time.
  • Teach your kids a Christian life skill. Our free teen curriculum can be adapted for older children, too. In addition to the Bible lesson, you will find activities teaching your kids important Christian life skills like godly conflict resolution. They also give your kids guided practice, so they will know how to do what God wants them to do.
  • Encourage your kids to discover, develop and/or use the talents God gave them to serve Him. Your kids probably have things they have wanted to try, but never seem to have the time to do. Encourage them to take some time to try or read about a possible new talent. Or let them work on developing a talent they’ve already discovered or help them find a way to serve someone using one of their talents.

The next time your kids have a virtual learning day, use some of that redeemed time to teach them something God wants them to know or encourage them to use some of that time spending time with God and serving Him. It’s a great way to help your kids build a strong faith foundation and reach their godly potential.

Family Devotionals for Babies and Toddlers

There’s a very good chance you are reading this post primarily out of curiosity. Why would someone have family devotionals with a child who is a few days old or a toddler who isn’t speaking in complete sentences yet? Or perhaps you wonder why you should take the time and effort to have regular family devotionals your child is too young to remember. Maybe you wonder what exactly you should do in a devotional with a child who is constantly on the move or is distracted by the least little thing.

The truth is that your baby or toddler may understand very little of what you say. Your very young child probably won’t have complete memories of your devotionals. It may take quite a bit of effort to hold your child’s attention for the five or so minutes a baby and toddler devotional requires. But you absolutely need to do it anyway.

Why? Because every child is different. We don’t know the exact moment your baby begins understanding words or ideas. However, wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of the first words your precious little one understands are, “God loves you!”? We also don’t know the age your child will be when he or she has a first memory that lasts into adulthood. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, though, if that first memory was being cuddled by you or your spouse as you talked about God?

Starting family devotionals as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital may seem silly, but it lays crucial spiritual groundwork for your family. It teaches your child from day one that God comes first in your family. It helps you establish great habits of studying the Bible and praying together. It prepares you for explaining what God wants your kids to know based on the stories in the Bible.

So what is involved in a family devotional for a baby or toddler? If you can afford it, buy a baby Bible (many churches give them as gifts to babies when they are born). The stories are just a few sentences long and have bright, colorful pictures. Look for one that encourages the child to make hand motions to go with certain points in the story. A baby won’t be able to do them the first few months of life, but at a very young age many children will begin trying to copy your actions. The total process should only take a couple of minutes.

End your devotional with a simple prayer. Teach toddlers to fold their hands and bow their heads for the prayer. It’s not required by God, but helps your child understand that when they do those things, they are talking to God. Use simple words and focus primarily on thanking God for things. The entire prayer should only be four or five sentences. As your child begins talking, encourage him or her to say “Amen”. As vocabulary increases, your child can contribute more to the prayer.

For toddlers, you may want to sing a kids’ “church” song together. Or listen to a kids’ scripture memory song. As your child begins to talk, encourage singing along. Babies and toddlers love your singing voice – no matter how off key you may think you sing. What better first songs to sing together than ones that also help them begin to memorize God’s words?

Do you need to have family devotionals when your child is a baby or toddler? Absolutely! Have fun with it, but start your child’s life learning about and talking to God every day. It’s the beginning of an unshakeable faith foundation.

How Sundays Can Help Parents

COVID has thrown everyone’s life into disarray to at least some extent. All of those months at home changed patterns and habits. Many Christians had only online church as an option on Sundays for several months and other families were forced to extend beyond that or rotate from in person to online worship every time there was another spike. And let’s be honest. There was a certain ease to rolling out of bed and watching church as you ate your breakfast. Your kids could act anyway they wanted and you didn’t feel the need to correct them. In fact, many parents began to wonder if getting kids dressed and to a church building early on a Sunday morning was really necessary.

It’s an understandable question. Parenting is tough. It can be exhausting at times. The last thing any parent needs is one more obligation. Especially if there is an easier way to accomplish the task. Why not take a short cut if it’s available? The short answer? Because this particular short cut does not keep your kids on the road you want them to travel.

Your kids (and you) miss out on some crucial benefits available only when you are in person at your congregation on Sunday. One of the most obvious, perhaps, is the age appropriate Bible class. To be clear, Bible classes as they are today were not part of the Sunday experience in the first century church. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or helpful as you parent your children. I also understand some churches provide more effective learning environments than others. That was the main reason we created Teach One Reach One Ministries – to make every church’s educational environment for kids and teens the best it can be. But even if the Bible classes aren’t the very best, they still give you some parenting assistance.

Age appropriate Bible classes introduce your kids to other adults who will reinforce what you are teaching your kids about God at home. It gives them an opportunity to develop relationships with potential Christian mentors. It gives your kids safe adults to help them process the things they are facing through the lens of what God wants them to do. It introduces your children to at least a few peers who are being raised to make the same choices you are raising yours to make.

Bible classes that are taught using best practices can provide even more benefits for your kids. Great Bible classes can make reading and understanding the Bible independently easier for your kids. It can encourage them to memorize scriptures to help them make good choices in the moment. It can teach them and help them practice Christian life skills to make it easier for them to do the things God wants them to do. Great Bible classes can help your kids spot logical fallacies that can be used to persuade them to disobey God. They can teach apologetics so your kids can better understand why they believe what they believe. They can teach them how to take what’s in the Bible and actually apply it to their lives.

There is a lot your kids can learn from the worship service, too. They can see generations of people worshipping God together. They can create relationships with Christians of all ages. They can experience love in action from those around them and be encouraged by Christians of all ages who keep up with their lives – helping during times of struggle and celebrating times of success. They can see others putting God and the needs of others before themselves. They can see models of people living godly lives and making good choices. They can see Christians can have fun and obey God at the same time. Who knows? They may even learn a thing or two from the sermon, too!

Worship and Bible class only provide 2-3 hours of the 14 hours a week your kids need in contact with God. However, those hours provide you support that you desperately need in your Christian parenting – whether or not it always feels like it. Don’t give up those helpful hours and take the online short cut when you can avoid it. Nothing will help you more than the “real thing”.