Parenting Made Practical » Blog

Is Head Knowledge Enough?

By Joey & Carla Link

September 20, 2023

Summer is over and many parents tell us they lost a lot of ground in the training of their kids in the midst of vacations and fun doings with their kids. Do you need to catch up on the moral character training of your children? If so, we want to give you a boost of encouragement to get back on track before more time gets away from you.

First, keep your training ‘to-do’ list narrowed down to working on one thing at a time. We were recently the guest teachers at a Family Camp and were discouraged at the response we got to the question, “What one thing are you working on with each of your kids?”  Parents easily get overwhelmed when they are working on too many things at one time x how many kids they have. So, let’s start at the beginning with the 3 steps it takes to train your kids.

1) You have to give your kids knowledge – Your kids need to know why this is important to you and God and why it needs to be important to them. You need to be calm when you are giving your kids the “why” and it works best if you wait until a time they are not in trouble. Knowledge alone will not motivate children to work on a character trait.

2) Your kids also need the practical application that goes with the knowledge, or in other words, they need to know how to do it. You tell your 3-yr old to be kind to her brother. Do you think she really knows what ‘be kind’ looks like? Instead, ask her to tell you one way she could be nice to her brother.

You have told your child why he needs to be kind no matter what someone did to him, and you have talked with him about what it looks like to be kind, so why is he still not kind? Where does the “want to be kind” come from? Good or bad, it comes from the heart. Unless Step 1 and Step 2 get to the heart, it won’t stick.

There’s one more step to get head knowledge into the heart. Once ALL 3 of these steps are in place, you will see what you tell your children go from their heads to their hearts.

3) Step 3 has two different looks. Children will need motivation to do what you are teaching them. One way to do this is to give your child praise and encouragement when you see him showing his sister kindness, for example. When you do this, make sure you let your husband know too, so he can praise your child when he gets home from work.

Another way to give your child motivation is to give him/her consequences when he/she doesn’t do what you tell them to. Before you start working on a character trait with your child, have in mind what appropriate consequences can be used when necessary that are agreeable to both you and your spouse.

Knowledgepractical application and motivation are the three steps to effectively train your children, and all three are necessary to do the job successfully. Step back and evaluate the level of obedience each one of your children has. If it is not better than 75%, then put that at the top of your list of the one thing you are working on. 75% means your child comes when you call his/her name, says “Yes Mom/Dad” and looks you in the eye when you talk to him, and listens to you without whining or arguing with you 3 out of every 4 times you call his/her name.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

Do Your Kids Know How to Wait Pt. 4

(Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3)

By Joey & Carla Link

September 13, 2023

It is always good to have things fresh in our minds when reading more about a subject like patience. What is patience? It is “to stay put or to delay doing something until a certain amount of time has passed or until it is scheduled to happen.” (Merriam-Webster) Another way to look at it is to think of it as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” (Britannica)

We often hear the phrases, “Patience is a virtue” or “Good things come to those who wait.” Learning to be patient yourself is one thing. Living with a spouse with a temperament that is characterized by impatience (Choleric and Sanguine) is another. Teaching your kids, especially those with either of these two temperaments, or those who have the blend of the two is an entirely different matter.

We have talked about what patience looks like and why having patience is so important in other blogs in this series. In last week’s blog, Part 3 in this series, “Do Your Kids Know How to Wait?” we shared two very practical ways you can teach your kids how to have patience. In this final blog in the series, we will share two more things you can do to help your kids learn to be patient.

1.    Have each of your kids keep a prayer journal. One of the hardest things for all of us who believe in God to do is to learn to wait on Him to answer our prayers. We want answers immediately, and we want God’s answers to be the same as our answers. Teaching your kids to wait on God’s answers to prayer is even harder. Keeping a journal helps with this because they can see God does indeed answer prayer. 

They will have fun decorating the covers. Get markers and stickers for them to do this. One night each week, have them each share one thing they prayed about and how they saw God answer it. Carla and I shared ours too. I had these conversations around the dinner table.

·       Ask each of your kids for things you can pray for them about, like to remember to wait patiently. When I (Carla) am with my grandkids, I try to remember to ask each of them what I can pray for them about. I listen to the things they want, then I ask them what their mom and dad are working with them on and I ask if they would like me to pray for that too. 

·       I write what they share in my prayer journal and ask them if they wrote it in theirs too. From time to time I ask them how God answered their requests. My grandchildren who are old enough to do this are 7, 10 and 12 years. 

·       I ask them to give me a letter grade for how well they are working on what they shared with me and to write them down in their journal. I ask them if their mom and dad would agree with the grades they give me. 

·       They are honest in their responses and if they haven’t been doing well, we talk about one thing they can do to work on waiting more patiently, for example.

2.    Look for ways you can teach them to wait patiently in their everyday life. Not letting our daughter be the first one in the van when we were out and about is an example of this. This same daughter had a bad habit of interrupting us when we were talking with others. We taught all our kids to use the “interrupt courtesy” we learned in the Growing Kids God’s Way parenting class.

When they wanted to say something to one of us and we were talking to someone else, even if it was on the phone, we told them to put their hand on one of my shoulders or when they were very little, to hold one of my wrists. When there was a natural break in the conversation, we would ask the person to wait a minute then ask our child what he/she wanted to say. Our little Sanguine would keep hold of my wrist while she was waiting for me to ask her what she wanted to tell me and she would dance and twirl around, often jumping up and down. When she did this to either of us, we would point to the ground and she would sit with her hands folded in her lap until we were ready to talk to her.

We know many young moms who have worked with their little ones to wait quietly with their hands folded for their food to be served when they eat. When they have video time, we know families who have their young children each sit on his/her own blanket and they are not allowed to run around and play or video time is over. There are ways to use things that happen in their everyday life to teach them to wait patiently. All the ways we have mentioned you can teach your children to wait patiently are also ways to teach them self-control.

Teaching patience is not a one-time lesson and when you are finished you think they will work on it. As we hope you can see from the things we have shared, it is more a weaving of things for them to think about throughout things that come up every day. Over time, they will get it if you keep at it.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, 

compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

Colossians 3:12 ESV

Do Your Kids Know How to Wait? Pt. 3

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

By Joey & Carla Link

September 6, 2023

One of our daughters has the Sanguine/Choleric temperament blend (just like her mother!) and learning to be patient was something we worked with her on for a period of years. I remember when we were going somewhere, she had to wait until her siblings got in the van to get in. She would run outside and when she got to the end of the sidewalk leading to the driveway, she would screech to a halt, stand there and wait. Why? Because her impatience to be first made her push and shove her way in the van and someone always got hurt. She wasn’t still while she was waiting for them, but that didn’t bother us as that wasn’t what we were working on. 

We hope you caught what we just said – “that didn’t bother us because that wasn’t what we were working on.” So often parents get so caught up in what they are working on with one of their kids that they start harping on every little thing they do. This is a good example of “working on one thing at a time.”

Back to patience. Teaching your child the character quality of waiting (patience), will give him/her a better ability to wait on God when he becomes an adult. 

Here are a couple things that need to be in place before you teach your children to wait patiently. We will share two more ways in next week’s blog when we conclude this series on teaching your kids to be patient. 

1.     Your children need to see you be patient before they will decide it is important for them to be. As more is “caught than taught,” I encourage you to pick one area in your life that your children can see you becoming more patient in. Do you show patience when you are driving in traffic, or when you are waiting to check out at a store and the shortest line become the longest one? Perhaps you could work on being more patient with your kids when they don’t get their stuff done. They will definitely notice that! It is not easy for most of us to wait, especially in a culture that tells us to go, go, go.

Let your kids know you are working on the area you choose. Let’s say you decide to be patient when you drive. The next time you are stuck in traffic and your children are in the car, tell them how hard it is to sit and wait for the traffic to get going again and how much you want to say something unkind to the other drivers. Let them know you are working on being patient and how hard that is for you at that moment.

2.     Teach your kids why we need to be patient when we wait on God to answer our prayers. He knows exactly when the answer needs to come. It doesn’t matter when we want our prayers to be answered. All that matters is we need to trust God to know when it is the right time. At the dinner table have your kids come up with a definition for the word trust. It is also a good time to teach your children that just because they want something doesn’t mean you or God think they should have it and even though they may not be happy about not getting it, they need to learn to accept when the answer is “No”.

Patience is tough to come by. Building patience into your children’s strength of character will help them in so many ways as they grow and mature. Our Sanguine daughter? Her little girl was born last year with a minor health condition that she should outgrow within the first two years. She often comes to see us when her husband travels with his work. We have never seen our daughter lose her patience when nothing seemed to calm her little one. We have both often marveled at her calm demeanor and steadfast endurance. I told her on one visit that I admired her patience and we all laughed. What kind of mother do you think she would be if she was trying to learn to be patient now, as an adult in the midst of a difficult situation?  

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles;

they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

Do Your Kids Know How to Wait? Pt. 2

By Joey & Carla Link

August 30, 2023

Patience is an especially tough quality to come by and to grow in our hearts. In our society today, everything comes fast and easy. The amount of information we have instant access to through the internet is staggering.

Patience is a virtue that has been thrown out the window. Why? Patience requires us to slow down and it requires us to wait. We talked about waiting in the first blog in this series. It is “to stay put or to delay doing something until a certain amount of time has passed or until it is scheduled to happen.” (Merriam-Webster) Another way to look at it is to think of it as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” (Britannica) Let’s look at some things about patience to teach your kids and how to get it.

1.     Being patient means controlling your emotions instead of immediately (that’s the impatient part) acting on them. It is the “ability to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people.” (Cambridge) We all have negative emotions when we don’t get our own way. Hopefully with maturity and experience most adults don’t act out on those emotions, but a big one that easily controls all of us is anger. Controlling your emotions to gain the “ability to remain calm and not become annoyed” requires self-control which requires patience to effectively be used. 

When teaching your kids about patience, helping them understand how they respond to their feelings is a choice. They can choose to act out on their anger by saying unkind things or hitting someone they are mad at, or they can take 10 deep breaths and calm themselves instead.

2.     Teaching your kids to learn to be patient will help them develop a good attitude. A lack of patience is often the result of focusing on the negative around them. The thought that nothing ever seems to go their way can lead to depression. Learning how to be patient teaches your kids to persevere and endure difficult situations.

3.     Your kids will have a greater sense of gratitude when they learn to be patient. Being patient will help your kids learn to be grateful for what they do have instead of being focused on what they think they don’t have. 

A review of the best tips to help you work with your kids to develop patience. 

  1. Help them learn to manage their negative emotions by choosing how to respond positively to situations they can’t control
  2. Help them learn to be good listeners
  3. Help them accept what they can’t change
  4. Work with them to slow down and think before they act
  5. Help them to understand what makes them impatient – Is it people they don’t get along with, circumstances they can’t control, or when something doesn’t go their way?
  6. Work with them to learn to take 10 deep breaths, unclench their fists and jaw and other things that will help them immediately calm down
  7. Work with them to problem-solve rather than create a bigger problem by being impatient or not choosing to control their anger. One way for kids to solve a problem always is to come to you and ask you what they should do.
  8. Have reading times instead of electronic time. When they read, they have to take time to imagine what the story looks like in their minds. It takes time and patience to read.

There is a saying; “Good things come to those who wait.” “Wait” is a good word to use with kids when teaching them about patience. Some of our grandchildren are with us while their parents take some time away. One of them in particular can be very negative in how he thinks. We work with him by saying, “We have heard from you all the things you can think of that can go wrong, now tell us all the things you can think of that can go right.”

Teaching patience is not a one-time lesson and when you are finished you think they will work on it. As we hope you can see from the things we have shared, it is more a weaving of things for them to think about throughout things that come up every day. Over time, they will get it if you keep at it.

“The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV

Do Your Kids Know How to Wait?

By Joey & Carla Link

August 23, 2023

Waiting doesn’t come easily for most of us. Kids jump up and down in anticipation of something they want to do. In our spirits, so do we! Unless you were born with the Phlegmatic temperament, waiting is just plain hard. If those with the Melancholy temperament have to wait too long for something, they will use the time to think of all the possible worst-case scenarios to the extent they dread the upcoming event. Those with the Choleric and Sanguine temperaments are impatient, so waiting for them is a chore. What does it mean to wait? It means to stay put or to delay doing something until a certain amount of time has passed or until it is scheduled to happen. Or in the case of our dear friends Kevin and Julie, until they see signs of improvement. Their son, Niall, 18 years old was driving home from work one night when a drunk driver ahead of him spun out of control, hit the telephone pole and it fell into the rural highway. According to what the police on the scene think happened, Niall pulled over and got out of the car to help direct traffic until the police showed up when the next oncoming car hit him. He suffered a severe brain injury and has been hospitalized for 3 weeks now. While this happened 4 hours from where we live, Kevin and Julie have not left his side since they arrived at the hospital. They are waiting, working hard to do so patiently. Not only are they waiting, they left behind in the capable care of grandparents and other family their other children at home, 3-17 yrsThese kids are waiting too. They are waiting for their brother to get better and for their parents to come home so things will get back to normal. Do you think their 3 yr old understands why her mommy and daddy have been gone for 3 weeks now? Do you know why she is okay waiting? Because her older siblings are. This is another good reason to train your children in Godly virtues.  Thankfully, Kevin and Julie have taken the parenting class “Growing Kids God’s Way” by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo with us many times and their children are characterized by obedience and they do know how to wait better than most kids their ages.  When it comes to training our kids, we all too often say “I’ll get to that later,” or we try to teach our kids something like patience, and when nothing changes in a couple days, we give up and let them push and shove their way through their siblings to be first. If there is one thing we hope you get from this blog, it would be this: Later needs to be NowGod supplies all our needs, but He does not give us everything we want, no matter how hard we pray for it. Waiting for God to answer our prayers the way we want Him to is not wise. Waiting for God to answer our prayers the way He wants to shows wisdom and maturity. 
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”Romans 12:12 
Will you join us please in praying for Niall Dameron? We have known him since the day he was born and our hearts ache to see him fighting to get his brain to regain its function again. If you would like to see his progress, you can see Kevin’s prayer requests on our “Joey and Carla Link” Facebook page. Please join the global team of prayer warriors interceding our Heavenly Father on Niall’s behalf. Please also pray for Niall’s siblings, that God would give them an abundance of patience and peace while they wait. When kids are upset about something, they have different ways of acting out. Please also pray for the family members caring for the children that God would give them an abundance of patience as well.