Saturday, May 16, 2015

Christ Focused Parenting: How to Praise our Kids




Whether we want to admit it or not, our personality rubs off in our parenting. I'm a positive person, and therefor I praise my kid a lot.


In fact, I probably praise our toddler a little too much. Too much praise? Is that even possible?

I believe it is.When we praise our children all the time, we run the risk of teaching our children that their value, and love, is based on what they do, rather than who they are.

Praise is good for children in that it helps develop self confidence; however, studies show that children who are praised for their effort are more confident than children who are praised for their desired outcome.

This concept also applies to Christianity. Too often I hear Christians measure their self worth based on their behavior and actions. Too often I hear parents measure their child's worth or success based on their behavior and actions. 

It is not our actions, or our good deeds, that make us a Christian. Rather, it is our faith in Jesus Christ, as God's son, who was sent to earth to die so that we may be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life (John 3:16).

Once we have believed, then we change the way we live based on our desire to be obedient to God.  God has given us a free gift, so why turn it down? Why put a contingency contract on it?

Praise your child for their effort, and don't go overboard. Children are not born with a natural desire to work hard, it is something that develops based on their environment. Children who feel good about them selves for trying, versus their performance, are more likely to have a hard work ethic as an adult.

Does God punish us when we preform under par? Goodness no. He forgives us of our sins and even delivers us from evil. He wants our hearts, not our list of awesome accomplishments.

Make sure your child knows that your love for them is not based on their actions, but rather that you will always love them, no matter what, because they are your child and they are God's child. Teach them that God is love, and that we love others unconditionally because that is how God loves us.

This might seem obvious, but it is all too easy to let anger, frustration, annoyance, and foolishness get a hold of our emotions. We know that we love our children unconditionally, but is our behavior showing that? Giving the cold shoulder, looking angry, rolling your eyes, and raising our voice are not loving behaviors. Our discipline should be purposeful and not based on how we feel in the moment.

We are all sinful, so at some point we will loose our temper and let our emotions get the best of us. When that does happen, it is how we approach our shortcomings that matters. I think it is important that we look our children in the eyes and say something along the lines of "I'm sorry I raised my voice. I felt angry when you ____. I love you and I am sorry. Now, we don't _______, it hurts people and God wants us to love each other".

Are your days at home revolving around a list of dont's? Watch out for how often you use this word. Sometimes I have days where I feel like don't is the only word in my vocabulary. "Don't stand on the table, don't put the whole role of toilet paper in the toilet, don't sit in the dogs water bowl, etc". I find that when I avoid saying don't, and instead say "Hey, is that a chair or a dog bowl?" It is way more effective.

Likewise, Christians who try and live by a list of right versus wrong get so caught up in their behaviors that they miss the big picture: that Christ like behavior comes as a result of living a life of gratitude, love, faith and dependence on God.

We want our kids to make good choices, to be happy, to be Godly, to be loving people. Does making them feel guilty for misbehaving make that happen? Does praising them for every time they do something perfect make that happen?

I don't think so.

In Galatians 4: 15 Paul writes "What has happened to all your joy?  I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.  Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth"?

 In this verse Paul is trying to convey the message that God does not want us to live our life feeling guilty and inadequate because we aren't living up to God or our own expectations. God wants us to be joyful always. If we feel guilty and inadequate, we need to examine our own life focus.

This principle goes for our children too. Do our children feel happy at the end of the day because of how much they are loved? Or because they got an A on their science paper, or because they got 5 stars on their chore chart and got a treat?

I truly believe that the way we parent is a direct reflection of our own relationship with our heavenly father. Give our life over to God, and our children will be blessed.

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