4 Best Ways to Stop Kids From Whining

If there were a list of the top five things children do to annoy their parents, whining would definitely be on it! There is something about both what is said and the way it is said that can test the patience of any parent. You’ve probably asked them to stop whining or told them you can’t ”hear” them when they whine. Those tactics may work in the moment, but what you really need is a long term solution.

At its core, Christian parenting is about the heart of the child. It’s helping to shape the attitudes and decision making processes of your children so they reflect God’s image more accurately. Children can fake appropriate behavior in front of adults, and still have a heart that is full of selfishness and evil. A godly heart, however, will produce godly behavior more consistently in the presence of everyone.

So what is at the heart of whining? A lack of gratitude for the blessings they already have as well as a lack of patience, self control and a host of other Christian virtues. Thankfully, there are four ways you can begin to help them build character that should also reduce the amount of whining you hear in your home.

  • Gratitude. Whining is about wanting something you don’t have and can’t get immediately. It can be a sign of a building sense of entitlement. You don’t have to guilt your kids into a sense of gratitude, but regularly spending time as a family being grateful to God and others for the gifts they have given you helps. Your family should spend a little time each day reflecting on God’s blessings during the day and thanking Him for them. You should also be the first to thank others, whether it’s someone who gave you a gift or the person who hands you your order at the fast food place. Hearts trained to look for things to be grateful for are less likely to see things to whine about.
  • Perspective. This one must be done carefully or it ends up being prideful. As silly as the saying “Starving children wish they could eat the food about which you are whining“ might be, there is some truth to it. Whining is constantly comparing ourselves to the perfect person with the perfect life and complaining we are currently missing some aspect of that life. It’s a pity party with a show. Unfortunately in our world today, the poor are often separated from not just the rich, but the middle class as well. Your kids may have never seen what life is like for a peer whose parents have less money than you. Once again, be careful so this doesn’t create a prideful spirit, but expose your kids to life in poverty. (This is best done when serving others and sharing your faith.) Watch documentaries about life for children in other environments. Read books designed to encourage empathy. With older children and teens, you can look at statistics and find ways to help end poverty, food insecurity and homelessness. Your kids need to learn these are complex problems, requiring complex solutions. In learning about those issues and finding ways to help, they may gain the perspective they need on their own lives.
  • Service. Serving others well requires taking your mind off of your own needs and focusing on the needs of others. The same child who whines for the perfect afternoon snack will forget to ask for one at all if he or she is fully engaged in serving someone else. Since we usually serve someone who is struggling in some way, serving them can also give your kids some perspective on their own lives.
  • Personal Responsibility. In our house, when someone begins to whine, we ask an important question. ”Have you done everything you can to personally rectify (fix) the situation?” If whining is involved, the answer is almost always ”no”. Why? Because whining is wanting someone else to ”fix” your problem for you and quickly. If there was something your child could have done to personally take care of an issue, make them do it. Only if the child has done everything he or she is allowed to do to solve the issue, should you agree to help (if asked without whining!).

Remember, whining can quickly become a habit that must be broken. In that case, you will need to teach your kids how to break bad habits, in addition to the skills above. Be aware of your own tendency to whine and complain and work on it with your kids. Your kids will often follow your example, so you will need to stop your own whining if you expect them to stop as well.

6 Ways Kids & Teens Can Serve Ukrainians

Unless your children are very young, they are probably aware of the situation in Ukraine. As someone who has spent time in ministry in Ukraine, my heart breaks to see my friends’ lives be decimated by Russia. Some were refugees from when Russia invaded Ukraine eight years ago and will be starting over again for the second time in their lives. While your family may live far away from the action, there are still plenty of ways for young people to get involved in serving Ukrainians.

Although the needs Ukrainians have will change over time, these ideas are things young people can do right now to help.

  • Pray. Young people may underestimate the power of prayer. As the bombs fell, people fled the fighting or loved ones were separated, Ukrainian friends were literally begging for our prayers. Make it more meaningful for older kids and teens by encouraging them to do research each day to find specific prayer requests for what is happening currently. If you know someone involved in ministry in Ukraine, you may even know the names of specific people to include in your prayers by name’.
  • Earn money to donate to ministries serving others in Ukraine or in one of the Eastern European countries receiving refugees. My ministry partners are spending tremendous amounts of money to provide Christians they know in Ukraine with the funds to get food, medicine and clothes to those who cannot flee and refugees. They are also providing transportation to safe zones for the elderly, people with special needs and others who would have great difficulty fleeing otherwise. Because they have been involved in ministry in Eastern Europe for decades, these groups are also involved with churches in countries like Poland to provide funds for them to set up refugee shelters in their churches. One Church of Christ in Poland added shower and laundry facilities, set up a dorm with tons of bunk beds, gathered linens and clothes and prepared food for refugees with about 24-48 hours notice. Young people can do odd jobs around the house, baby sit or find other ways to donate money to help these ministries serve the people of Ukraine.
  • Start sorting through their clothes, toys and other items useful to refugee peers. The refugee crisis is just beginning. The vast majority of refugees leave their homes and everything they own behind. They literally only have the clothes on their backs. A few Ukrainian refugees are beginning to arrive in the U.S. Lord willing, soon we will be able to ship needed items to at least the Eastern European countries housing refugees. If young people have already sorted through their things they can give away and organized them, they will be able to get them quickly to those who need them.
  • Social media. For teens on social media, there are ways they can use their “influencer” status – no matter how big or small. Encourage them to create posts for increasing awareness of the situation, networking for raising funds and collecting items for refugees and creating encouraging posts that will be seen by those in Ukraine. Some may also wish to advocate for certain policies that could benefit those in Ukraine. Encourage them to find scriptures that will encourage those in Ukraine and include them in some of their posts.
  • Create original works of art that are obvious in their support of Ukraine. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and their colors are sky blue and yellow. Ministries can use their original art in social media posts, for fund raising, t-shirt designs and eventually notes and cards sent to Ukrainians.
  • Make a special effort to befriend refugees and those with relatives in Ukraine. Refugees may be relocated to your area at some point. Your children should be prepared to go out of their way to be loving, friendly and supportive to new students or any peers they currently know who have relatives in Ukraine.

One of the ways to encourage children raised in Christian homes to be active, productive Christians as adults is to fully engage them in ministry from a young age. The horrendous situation in Ukraine gives young people a chance to serve others and share their faith in meaningful ways.

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

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.

Fun, Fall Family Devotional

Food plays a role in many Bible stories. Cooking is a great bonding activity for families. It can add warmth to your home and make it smell wonderful! The results can even be shared with others as a way to serve them. Combining easy cooking and scriptures from the Bible can be the beginnings of a fun Bible study and create great memories for your kids.

Grab your Bible app on your phone and select the NIrV version. Read to your kids Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:20. Point out to your kids that this parable is in two books of the Bible. It must be an important parable of Jesus, so what do they think it means? What is Jesus trying to teach us?

Chances are good, your kids won’t have an answer or won’t be confident in the one they give. When that happens, teach them that often Jesus told several parables together and many times these groupings had a theme. Back up a couple of verses in both passages and read the parable of the mustard seed that comes before the parable of the yeast. Ask your kids if that makes the parable of the yeast any clearer. If not, back up again and read the parable before the mustard seed in Matthew.

With younger children, you can explain that putting just a little bit of yeast in a large amount of flour causes it to rise and create a lot more bread than would have been made without the yeast. Older kids might benefit from showing them how to find and use a concordance on the internet. Here’s the link to a popular one. Point out that while the basic meaning of the parable is the same (a little can influence a lot) some people believe it was meant in a positive way based on the parables around it and others believe it was more of a warning to avoid evil and its influence.

Tell your kids you want to experiment with yeast to better understand the parable. You can use this simple bread recipe that uses yeast but doesn’t require kneading or this bread recipe that does require your kids to learn how to knead. If you want, you can also make one of these unleavened bread recipes.

Have your kids notice how much dough you have before it rises and how much it grows after rising (Note: extending rising time can make it grow even larger, but if you extend it for too long the dough can collapse.) As it bakes, discuss how your kids and your family can be like yeast in the world, helping God’s Kingdom grow. Don’t just focus on the future, but on practical things your kids can do now.

If you also make unleavened bread, compare the two. What differences did the yeast make? How can people influence others to either obey or disobey God? How can that influence spread? For older children, this can lead to a discussion on social media, influencers and using a platform for God.

Have fun with it. Can you think of other possible food family devotionals? They are also a great way to teach your kids some life skills while you are teaching them about God.