Raising Spiritually Resilient Children

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from hardships or failure and to adapt well to change. Spiritual resilience has a couple of extra layers to it. Someone who is spiritually resilient does not let the problems, difficulties or failures in his or her life weaken or destroy his or her faith and/or commitment to God. In addition, unlike secular resiliency, which focuses purely on the individual, spiritual resilience takes advantage of God’s wisdom and guidance as part of the recovery process.

The most important tool in the resiliency toolbox of your children? Their relationship with you! If you have a strong, healthy relationship with your kids and give them plenty of emotional and spiritual support, then they have a strong foundation on which to build resilience. They only need one supportive parent in their lives (although two of course doubles their access to support) to reap the benefits. For those who don’t have a healthy relationship with either of their parents, a highly engaged adult mentor can fill much of that gap.

There are three personality traits that make children naturally more resilient – optimism, adapting easily to changes and the ability to make friends easily. If your children were not born with these character traits, they can still be resilient. They don’t need to totally change their personality, but can work towards moving a little more in the direction of those helpful traits.

There are some skill sets resiliency experts have found increase resilience. Most of these can also help with spiritual resilience – although a few will need a tweak to more accurately reflect God’s wisdom.

  • Problem solving skills – solutions should incorporate God’s wisdom and obey His commands when applicable
  • Planning/goal setting – plans and goals should give room for God to change those plans if His plans are different
  • Time management skills
  • Strong sense of personal responsibility – both admitting and atoning when necessary for mistakes and sins as well as taking responsibility for making godly choices so as not to negatively impact others
  • Strong locus of control – believing the choices, attitudes and actions of a person impact outcomes. In secular resiliency, the underlying assumption is that the person knows the best actions to take, whereas in Christianity, there is a recognition of what God should control and using His guidance to make better choices. Locus of control is on a spectrum and resilient young people are towards the strong end of the spectrum. An example might be a teen with a strong locus of control, who failed a test, then deciding to pay more attention in class, study longer and get a tutor before the next test because those choices should improve the grade on the next test. A teen with a weak locus of control decides nothing he or she might do would improve outcomes. A weak locus of control is often blanketed with support statements like “because the teacher hates me and will fail me no matter what I do”.

There are three additional spiritual tools in the toolbox of spiritually resilient young people.

  • Scripture – the spiritually resilient young person uses scripture for guidance and/or as a reminder for the choices God knows are in their best interest. Young people who are spiritually resilient spend time reading, reflecting upon and memorizing scripture (so it is in long term memory for guidance when needed).
  • Prayer – spiritually resilient young people have an active prayer life that includes praying independently to God about emotions and asking for guidance
  • Godly advice from strong Christians – your kids need you to teach them how to identify people who are actively living their faith and who can give them godly advice. They also need to know how to compare this advice to the Bible to make sure it is godly before following it.

There are a few special tools that will best prepare your kids to be spiritually resilient.

  • Self control/impulse control – a fruit of the Spirit, self control is essential for avoiding sin. It also has been shown to increase resiliency.
  • Godly self esteem – Self esteem that is either too high or too low is bad for your kids. Godly self esteem encourages them to humbly discover, develop and use their gifts and talents to serve others, but also repents of sin and works to become more and more like Jesus every day.
  • Patience/perseverance – the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Your kids will need patience and perseverance to end well.

Your kids need your help to become spiritually resilient. It will take time and effort on your part. It’s worth it though, because spiritually resilient children are more likely to follow God all the days of their lives.

Great Resource Using Animals to Teach About Noah

Did you know that African crested porcupines live in family units called prickles? Or that Virginia possums are immune to rattlesnake venom? How about the facts that naked mole rats can chew through concrete and move their front teeth independently like chopsticks? Neither did I until I read the new book Awesome Facts About Animals from Answers in Genesis.

So why are we choosing to promote this book (we receive no affiliate benefits)? Because you and your kids will learn about more than just interesting facts about animals. Interspersed are explanations of things that often confuse people about the Bible’s account of the Flood and Noah’s Ark. The book carefully explains the concept of ”kind” and how that impacted what animals were on the Ark. It also explains little remembered facts – like all animals were vegetarians until after the Flood – making it safe for a tiger and a lamb to be together on the Ark. They even provide various viable theories for things the Bible doesn’t explain, like how animals got from the Ark to places like Australia.

One of the ongoing issues with the criticisms of the Bible is that many of them are outdated. What’s even sadder is that many Christians believe these outdated criticisms not realizing that many atheists and/or scholars have since found evidence repudiating the claims. It’s nice to have a resource that subtly explains the truth while also teaching children lots of interesting facts about animals.

The book is graphically pleasing with lots of great photos. The facts are interesting and although the book is paperback, the paper stock is sturdy. You can find the book on the Answers in Genesis website and it is currently out of stock on Amazon, but it looks like they do carry it. Have fun learning about animals with your kids while reinforcing Bible truths.

Great Way to Prepare Your Kids for the Unexpected

As a Christian parent, you want your kids to be able to make wise, godly choices and avoid sinning – even when you aren’t there to guide them. Even if you have spent a lot of time teaching them God’s commands and principles, it can be hard to know if they can apply that knowledge when faced with an unfamiliar situation. How can you prepare them for the various situations and temptations they may face in the future?

While it would be impossible to fully prepare your kids for every possible situation, there are things you can do to prepare them for the most common temptations and choices they will face. Here are some favorites.

  • Brainstorm things to say. When I was a teenager, a Christian magazine published lists of things you could say if a peer tried to pressure you into using drugs or having sex outside of marriage. Some of them were serious, but many of them were rather humorous. I don’t think I ever used many of them, but making the list fun encouraged me to think about what I might actually say if I found myself in that situation. Encourage your kids to think of things they could say if peers are pressuring them to do something that is wrong. Let them be a little silly or add some humorous suggestions of your own, but arm them with plenty of options so they don’t have to make one up in the moment.
  • Have practice sessions. Michael Oher (Blindside) wrote in his memoir about how his foster mom prepared him for recruitment dinners at fancy restaurants by taking him to fancy restaurants and helping him practice every kind of scenario that might happen at a meal like that. Are your children encountering a new situation soon where they might be tempted to make poor choices? Create scenarios that are as realistic as possible and let them practice various options until they find ones that not only work, but are easy for them to remember and use.
  • Have a parent/child date. Pick an activity that allows a lot of conversation like high tea, a meal at a nice restaurant or even a hike or attending a baseball game. Spend some time talking about an upcoming new event or life season like a new school or activity. What types of things might happen? What are some good ways to handle them. Let your child do most of the talking, asking questions to help guide the conversation if needed.
  • Consult the ”experts”. Know someone who has successfully navigated the next stage or activity while making godly choices and staying faithful? Your child may listen to advice from an older teen or young adult with a bit of extra respect. Just make sure you are using a young person who really did make godly choices and not one who learned how to put on a great show.
  • Play a game. Create a scenario game and have your kids take turns either choosing the best option or acting out their solution to the problem presented.

Taking the time to prepare your kids will make it easier for them to make good choices and avoid sinning when tempted. It’s worth taking the time and effort needed to help them be ready for whatever comes their way.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids How to Control Their Thoughts

Young children often have no filter. What they are thinking may be immediately spoken without any consideration as to whether or not saying, ”What is that weird thing on your nose?” might hurt someone’s feelings. Thankfully, most children eventually learn to be a little more careful with their words. Thoughts can cause other problems. The Bible tells us thoughts can lead to attitudes and actions that are sinful. A tempting thought dwelt upon for long periods of time can eventually become a sin.

Believe it or not, children may not always be aware of their thought process. Called meta cognition, being aware of one’s thoughts is a necessary skill set if one hopes to then control thoughts that aren’t helpful or productive. There are some things you can do with your kids to help them become more aware of their thoughts and also begin teaching them how to control or change thoughts they don’t want to entertain.

  • Read or tell your kids a Bible story. Tell them to try and ”draw a picture of it in their brains” as you are talking. After you are finished, have them draw or describe the ”picture they drew in their brains”. Start with simple, familiar Bible stories. For young children you may have to stop after every paragraph or so (several verses) and have them describe what they have pictured. As they get better at the exercise, start introducing unfamiliar or more complex Bible stories for them to visualize.
  • Ask your kids to visualize a familiar item in their mind. Then tell them to ”erase” that picture in their minds and replace it with another familiar object you name. Let them take turns suggesting things for everyone to visualize.
  • Encourage your kids to daydream godly dreams. This activity is often easier at the afternoon rest time, outside on a blanket looking at the passing clouds. Encourage them to dream about somewhere they would like to go on a mission trip or doing one of the good works God has planned for them. Maybe they want to daydream about going with their friends at church on a field trip or to camp. Encourage them to add as many details to the dream as possible.
  • Encourage your kids to memorize helpful Bible verses. When a tempting thought comes into their heads, they can stop that thought and replace it with the scripture. For example, if they are upset with someone and realize they are tempted to punch him or her, they might want to replace that tempting thought with the verse ”Love is patient. Love is kind.”

Teaching your kids to recognize and control their thoughts can help them avoid the trap of lingering upon thoughts that can encourage them to sin. It’s worth taking the time and effort to help them master the technique.

Fun Way to Introduce Your Kids to God’s Role in Science

Many people mistakenly believe that God can be completely separated from science. Actually, God created science. By creating the Universe and the Laws that make it work, God also created the things that scientists study. For centuries, scientists were often Christian, but in a post Darwin world, even Christians felt pressured into removing God from science entirely. Interestingly, many of the underpinnings of this faulty belief system are based on ”truths” long since rejected by even secular scientists. While many professional scientists are perhaps not ready to admit to the existence of God, their increasing awareness of the complexity of the things in our Universe cause even skeptics to admit the Darwinian notion of chance is not viable.

Christians don’t need to reject science – just science that is influenced by an atheist bias (especially if Christian scientists have supportable and compelling alternate theories). The key is introducing your children to science at home. Science that acknowledges God’s role in it’s creation and that does not undermine biblical truths.

A great, fun way to begin having those discussions is by using the story of Noah’s Ark to teach your children about the science needed for building boats. Start by telling your kids the story of Noah building the Ark. Point out the specificity in the instructions God gave Noah. Note that if Noah had altered the dimensions or materials in any way, the Ark may not have floated. (Note: For children who are older and interested in science, this article has more details of the science behind the building of the Ark. https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/thinking-outside-the-box/

Give your children scrap materials like aluminum foil, paper, craft sticks, etc. Challenge them to build a boat that will not only float, but hold weight. When the boats are completed, try floating them in a tub or sink of water. Add pennies to each boat until it sinks. Which boat stayed afloat the longest? Older children may want to compare the ratios of the dimensions of their boats to the Ark. Ask them to imagine how long it would have taken Noah to figure out how to build a sturdy boat the size of the Ark (that could hold that many animals) without God’s helpful knowledge of the science He created that was needed to build the Ark. Remind your children that all reliable science is based on the science God created….

For more science activities connected to Bible stories in meaningful ways, check out our children’s activities under the lesson plans tab on our website… www.teachonereachone.org