Do the Words You Use Make Christian Parenting Tougher?

Parenting can be tough. Christian Parenting is tougher still, as you try to parent against many cultural norms. Why make it any harder than it needs to be? Sometimes the very words you choose to use can escalate an already tense situation unnecessarily.

There are words that will cause an immediate, strong negative reaction in your kids. You’ve probably noticed certain words they use have the same impact on you. Some words will cause a strong negative emotion in almost everyone, like “hate”. Other words will differ from person to person.

Whether we realize it or not, our brains have noticed which words create a strong reaction in others. When we get angry or upset at someone, our brains seem to choose those words on purpose to cause as much pain as possible. (For our purposes, we will call these hot button words.)

Except, the truth is we make conscious decisions about the words we use. It’s just that it happens so quickly we aren’t always as aware as we should be of what is about to come out of our mouths. We become angry at our child’s disobedience and in addition to correcting and giving consequences, we inflict unnecessary emotional pain by using hot button words as we talk to them.

Using hot button words in parenting immediately worsens any conflict. Because of their limited self control, young children may even have what seems like extreme emotional and behavioral reactions when you use their hot button words – especially in tense situations like correction.

If you aren’t careful, instead of changing a child’s behavior, you are creating an emotional divide that will become more difficult to heal over time. You can be firm and even give consequences without using those hot button words.

Some hot button words should be obvious. It is never acceptable to call children ugly names or curse at them. Any descriptive words should be about the behavior and not implying they define a child’s character. A decision is bad, for example, a child is not a bad child. (Defining a child, rather than the choice, can lead them to believing they will only make bad choices and are unredeemable.)

When things are calm, have a conversation with each of your kids about words and phrases that cause a strong reaction in them. Some will be silly, like “moist”. Others will be those words you need to avoid when possible as you talk with your child. You may even want to share some words you would prefer they not use when they are upset with you.

There can also be household bans on certain words. In our home, “hate” was never to be used in reference to a person…especially if it were in the sentence “I hate you!” Although, we knew we loved each other, we believed it was important to never utter those words to one another – even in anger. Your family may want to work together to make a list of banned words and phrases in your home.

If you or your kids have gotten in the bad habit of using hot button words when angry, you may have to have some sort of consequence to help everyone break bad habits. It’s important to be consistent and allow your kids to give you the same consequence if they catch you using hot button words, too.

If you have been in the habit of using hot button words and phrases when correcting your children, you may find eliminating them will lessen the intensity of many conflicts. You probably sound more rational to your children when you avoid using the words that annoy them and they will quite possibly stay a little calmer in the process. Even if they still get upset, it’s great parenting to avoid calling anyone ugly names or using curse words to emphasize your point when talking to your children. Plus it sets a wonderful, godly example for them to follow in their own speech.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #8

How was your week? Finding it challenging to focus on Christian parenting? Here are this week’s social media challenges to help you on your journey.

Monday: It’s easy to tell this house was once beautiful. Someone neglected to care for it though, and now it would take a ton of money and hard work to fix it. Your kids’ hearts and minds are like that. They were born innocent. With lots of love and attention, they can learn to become mighty men and women of God. With neglect though, they will become more worldly each day. At some point, it may take an enormous amount of time and effort to help them give their hearts and lives to God. Don’t neglect the spiritual training of your kids. Starting early is a lot easier than needing to undo years of spiritual neglect.

Tuesday: Children go through a stage when they like to play pretend with dolls, play houses, tree houses, etc. Often, they pretend they are adults they have seen. If they are pretending to be you, what are you like? Because whether or not either of you is aware of it now, your kids will copy a lot of what you say and do. Will they be copying godly or worldly behaviors, thoughts and attitudes when they do? Sometimes the hardest part of Christian parenting is being the Christian God wants you to be.

Wednesday: Do your kids have time to think, reflect or meditate on God’s words? The Bible calls God’s people to do just that. It’s tough for kids to understand and move to long term memory what God wants them to know if they don’t have time to ponder it. It’s difficult for them to dream godly dreams or analyze where they are spiritually compared to where God wants them to be if they don’t have a spare second to contemplate. Gazing at clouds or stars, listening to classical music while resting and/or afternoon device free rest times can give them some of that critical processing time.

Thursday: How much time do you have left before each of your children turns eighteen and stops living at your house full time? Now make a list of everything you want your kids to know, believe and understand about God. What godly character traits do they still need to develop? You get the idea. Create a rough plan for how you will help them grow spiritually the remainder of their time at home. If you don’t analyze and plan, the time will slip away and they will enter adulthood with a shaky faith foundation.

Friday: Need ideas for a family devotional? Want some fun things to do with your kids to work on character traits? Looking for a helpful parenting book to read? Need help with a parenting struggle? You can search our blog for posts on specific topics to help you quickly find what you need. So head on over to our website (.com) and get the Christian parenting help you’ve needed. (You can also ask specific questions on this page or by messaging us.)

6 Thinking Skills Christian Kids Need

As the secular world’s views take permanent hold on every aspect of our culture, it’s more important than ever your kids become critical thinkers. Not to try and rewrite the Bible so God allows them to do whatever they want, but so they can see through the arguments that are meant to encourage them to reject God.

We have had several recent posts about critical thinking skills, but there are some underlying cognitive or thinking skills that will help your kids on their Christian walk. You can do a lot of things at home that will help them sharpen these skills, while also teaching them how these gifts from God can help them stay close to God if they use them well.

  • Comprehension. Do your kids really understand what they are being taught at church and home about the Bible and what God wants from them and for them? Be careful. Just because your kids can quote a neatly turned phrase, doesn’t mean they really understand what it means, why it’s important to God or how to apply it to their lives.
  • Analysis. Can your kids analyze a doctrine, argument, philosophy and their own lives and compare them to God’s standard? Or are they comparing things to some other, less reliable or godly standard?
  • Creation. Can your kids take what they read in the Bible and create a life that is pleasing to God? Can they create a personal ministry that serves others and teaches them about God? Can they eventually create a family of their own that will be the Christian family God wants?
  • Creativity. Can they take the commands and principles in the Bible and apply them in situations that aren’t an exact match for what is in the Bible? In other words, can they take the commands and principles from a story like the Good Samaritan and apply them appropriately to a situation that doesn’t involve a man robbed and beaten, but in which god would expect the same commands and principles to be obeyed?
  • Communication. Can your kids clearly communicate what they believe to others? Can they communicate the Gospel message in a compelling way? Can they explain how God makes a difference in their lives? Can they explain what God wants from them and for them so others understand the importance of obedience?

Helping your kids work on these thinking skills can better prepare them for critical thinking, living the Christian life and sharing their faith. They’re part of the strong faith foundation your kids need to remain faithful to God in this secular world.

Fun Kid Craft For Giving Anxieties to God

We live in anxious times and the anxiety level of the average child has raised exponentially from previous generations. When kids aren’t taught healthy, godly ways of managing their anxiety, they can become susceptible to all sorts of unhealthy, dangerous and ungodly ways to cope.

Children raised in Christian homes, may have been taught to turn their anxieties over to God, but not really understand how to do it. There’s an easy craft project you can do with your kids that can not only help them understand the concept, but also encourage them to practice it.

Grab a Bible and tell your kids about some of the times in the life of David when he may have been anxious. You can find some great examples in 1 Samuel 21 – 24. Explain that when David was anxious we know one of the things he did was talk to God. We know this, because he wrote some of his prayers down in the book of Psalms. (You may want to read Psalms 23, 27, 34, 61, 91 or others to them.)

For older children, it’s important to point out that God didn’t always take away the stress from David’s life immediately. When God left the stressful situation in David’s life for a time, David had to trust that God would help him get through the situation. David learned to lean on God by turning his anxieties over to him, even if they continued to exist for long periods of time.

Explain to your kids that sometimes when we are anxious, we forget to pray to God about it. Instead we spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about the things that are making us anxious. Suddenly, we can’t sleep or maybe we start feeling ill from the stress.

A great way to remember to pray about the things making them anxious – and to let God handle them for them – is to have a visual cue to remind them. Grab empty tins for mints or other small containers. Have your kids each decorate one. If the containers are large enough, they may want to write their favorite verse from the Psalms you read on them.

Inside the container put lots of slips of blank paper and a pencil (golf pencils work well for smaller containers). Tell your kids whenever they worry, they should write what is worrying them on a slip of paper. Then they should pray about what they wrote. When they are finished, they can close the slip of paper in the container or dramatically destroy it to remind them they have given it to God to take care of for them.

After completing the project, make sure your kids place their containers somewhere in their room where they will be easily seen. When they seem anxious, remind them to write it down, pray about it and let God handle it. Helping them establish good prayer habits can also help them manage their anxiety levels.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #8

Need some encouragement or ideas? Here are weekly social media challenges to help!

Monday: A storm split this tree. The part separated from the main tree looks fine a few hours later. In a few days though, the story will be different. Your family needs strong bonds to keep Satan from destroying one or more of you. Strong bonds to each other. Strong bonds to your church family. Strong bonds to God. Keeping your family spiritually healthy means taking the time and effort to build these strong bonds.

Tuesday: If your kids seem to be struggling with their emotions and aren’t ready to talk about it, music and art can help. Encourage them to sing, play an instrument, draw, paint – anything that can help them release their emotions in healthy ways. Teach them about the importance of praying their feelings to God. Show them Psalms if they’re scared to pray about what they are feeling and asking God to help them. Work on your relationship, so they will feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts with you. Young people often turn to sinful behaviors thinking they will ease strong negative emotions. Give them a better, more godly way to cope.

Wednesday: This flower has different shading than most. Shading in nature is beautiful, but shading the truth is lying. The Bible tells us multiple times that God hates lies. Have you taught your kids lying is sinful? Do they shade the truth? Tell half truths? Omit the truth? Tell little white lies? Tell lies to “save someone’s feelings”? All of those are lies that are hated by God. Yet most Christian kids think many of those lies are perfectly acceptable. Lying makes life more complicated and unpleasant. Lying has tons of negative consequences. Most importantly God hates lies. Make sure you are raising truth tellers.

Thursday: Are your kids anxious, frustrated or upset? Nothing relaxes kids like a walk in nature. If you live in an urban area and are allowed outside, a park or even the wholesale outdoor flower mart will do. It’s okay to walk in silence until they relax and start talking. Or talk about what you are seeing or something non threatening until they open up. When they start talking really pay attention – even if you secretly think they are”over reacting”. Their emotions are very real to them and if you downplay their importance, they will be less likely to share with you again. Try to end your time in prayer and let them know you will continue praying about it. You don’t always have to solve their problems for them. Sometimes just active listening and prayer are enough.

Friday: These houses all look alike on the outside except for their doors. The doors and interiors of the homes reflect the personalities and experiences of their owners. Even if you are raising identical triplets, they are different. The basics of Christian parenting are the same, but recognizing and adjusting for those differences can make you more effective.