Top Tips for Raising a Gentle Child

The Fruit of the Spirit is a familiar list to many Christians – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control and gentleness. The one that perhaps causes the most confusion is gentleness. In a culture where we are constantly encouraged to stand up for ourselves and demand our rights, gentleness can seem rather… well, wimpy.

The official definition of gentleness is the quality of being kind, tender or mild mannered. Do a search on Christian definitions of gentleness and you will encounter words like humility, kindness, consideration, amiability, strength under control, forgiveness, calm, puts others first, mild, quiet nature, soft and supportive demeanor, being oriented towards the needs of others, ability to give bad news in as kind of a way as possible. That’s a lot for your kids to learn, understand and live all at once.

Thankfully, you can break it down a bit by focusing on certain attitudes and behaviors that kids can understand. Here’s our list to get you started.

  • Good manners. Manners are based on the ideals of consideration and respect – two important aspects of gentleness. Manners can vary from place to place and time to time, but in general it is better to be considered a little old fashioned when it comes to manners. Older manners are often more “courtly”, meaning they would make one comfortable having “tea with the Queen”. A gentle person should have impeccable manners.
  • Respect others. There is often an overlap with manners and respect – especially in how one addresses and treats others. Respect is also about attitudes. A gentle person – showing respect – will probably avoid rolling their eyes at what others say, mocking others and speaking or acting disrespectfully towards authority figures.
  • Speak kindly to others – especially when delivering bad news or when angry. This tends to overlap with self control. A gentle person thinks carefully before speaking to others – especially in conversations that could get emotional very quickly.
  • Have empathy for others. A gentle person stops to think about how the other person might feel and makes the most loving choice as to what to do or say in response. This does not mean that your kids have to allow bullies to abuse them because the bullies are hurting and lashing out. It does mean, however, that in that case, they would stand up for themselves in a way that provides protection without trying to bring unnecessary pain and suffering to the bully. Empathy seeks to understand and avoids revenge. Likewise, a gentle person does not seek revenge.
  • Be patient and calm when dealing with others. Some kids seem to be born the opposite of calm. We learn from the Apostle Peter that can be helpful in serving God. But just like Peter, your whirlwind child needs to learn how and when to be patient and calm with others.
  • Listen humbly to others. There are times when your kids need to speak, but even then, it should be done with humility. A gentle person does not go around reminding everyone about how great he or she is. A gentle person also realizes the value of listening to others – either as a way of showing love and providing comfort or as a way to gain wisdom.

Working with your kids in these areas is a great way to raise children who are truly gentle.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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