Are Your Kids Teachable?
by Joey Link
I was watching a college bowl football game and a running back made a terrific play and was able to run 60+ yards for a touchdown. They showed a picture of the running back’s dad raising his hands to the sky at first I thought it was a touchdown sign, but his face looked upward toward heaven and I could read on his lips “Thank you Jesus.”
Then the announcers said, “This kid’s dad has had a huge influence on his son… what a terrific kid he is.”
It’s good when we as parents can influence our kids, but it’s even better when people see and understand the influence we have ON our kids.
What kind of influence do you have on your kids? How do you know if your kids are being influenced by you?
Our son Michael bought a house a few years back that needed a lot of work done to it. Even though the home we purchased when we moved to Iowa was a fixer upper and he helped me work on it throughout the years, I never saw myself as teaching him how to fix up a house to the degree his needed. As he worked on his house, I praised him for the great job he was doing.
This Christmas, he was home and as we were looking in one particular room of our home, he said to me, “This room is where I learned to do electrical work.” I was stunned. I remember him helping me put outlets in, but I don’t remember “teaching him” how to do electrical work.
I learned the principal ‘more is caught than taught’ while taking the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way. This recent conversation with Michael drove this principle home to me again. I learned how much is taught not through my words, but through my example and how I live my life.
Are your kids teachable? For our kids to learn from us, their hearts need to be teachable. This means they are looking to learn, improve or better themselves. How do you get your kids to be teachable? I think it goes back to thinking about others vs. thinking about themselves because the greatest commandment next to loving God with all your heart is to “Love your neighbors as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40). When kids are so focused on themselves, pleasing themselves, and wanting others to think about them; when their hearts are saying “me, me, me,” they aren’t thinking about learning how God wants them to live or how to give of themselves to others and as a result their hearts are not teachable.
How do parents get their kids to be focused on others first so they can be teachable? By looking for ways they can help others vs. others helping them. Teach them how to support, encourage and build up each other. To do this requires a heart attitude that would rather give than receive.
As you are out, teach your kids to look for the opportunity to open a door for other people coming behind them. Carla uses a walker full-time. You would be surprised at the number of people that walk around her, tell her to get out of the way and pretty much walk through her before they will open the door for her.
SHOW THEM THE WAY – Young children are often eager to help you or their siblings. Instead of getting annoyed at their interference, find a way for them to “help”. Sharing a toy is another way a young child can show he is thinking of others first.
When your kids are 7-12 yrs. old, one day a week can be “Other’s 1st” day (not that you don’t encourage them to think of other’s first on other days, but rather put a special emphasis on it this day). Have them write down on a piece of paper one way they will show others they are thinking about them first and put it under your pillow. You can read the notes and encourage your kids when you see them doing their one thing. If you see a child thinking of himself, go to him and ask him what he just did would look like if he was thinking of others first. Then ask him if he is willing to show you he will do it.
How do your older kids walk in crowded stores or hallways? This is a simple way to see who they are thinking of. We always wait until last to leave any event or building. Why? So we don’t have to worry about children and young adults running into Carla.
Take the time to watch how they walk in crowds and teach them to make room for others as they walk along. Your kids need to know and use theses magic words when they bump into someone by accident – “please excuse me.”
As your kids move into the teen years, are they looking for opportunities to help and encourage their siblings or peers to be the best they can be? Rare is the child who would not want help with school work from an older sibling. When our girls were teens, they had what they called their “Grandmas’ Club.” Since their grandparents lived in other states, they found 4 elderly widows in our church and found ways to this day to love and serve them. It was not unusual for them to invite younger girls to join their outings with these ladies, showing them how to love lonely people.
Teachable hearts are those that say, “I can adopt a “Grandma”, or “I can help my sister with her math.” Your children will not mimic how you have shown them to serve others first unless you have shared with them WHY it is important to do so.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind
let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
What are you doing to influence your kids? Being around them so they can see how you handle what life throws at you is half of it. Parents need to realize their kids are watching them whether the parents are deliberately trying to show them how to demonstrate Godly character or not. Remember, “More is caught from your life than taught from your words!”