Wishful Thinking

By Joey and Carla Link
June 23, 2021

It is summer, a time everyone looks forward to. The kids get a break from school and families are busy planning vacations, holidays and fun things to do. Don’t you wish you could say to your kids, “Mom is so looking forward to getting a break this summer too! So can I count on you to do what you are supposed to do and what Mom or Dad tell you to with a great attitude all summer long?!” There were times I wished for that all year round. Unfortunately, when Eve ate that apple that God told her and Adam not to do, which was the only thing God told them not to do and they lived in Paradise, she brought sin into the world and with it the desire to do things our own way. Sin doesn’t take weeks off, it doesn’t take a single day off. Another wish I have often had for myself is that I would learn what God wants to teach me without first having to get myself into trouble before I give in and do it His way. Don’t you? So, what you can definitely count on your kids doing this summer is to misbehave, throw your carefully laid boundaries over the fence and see their siblings as sparring partners.
We want to give you a boost of encouragement to get a “Summer Training Plan” before it gets away from you.
First, keep your training ‘to-do’ list narrowed down to working on one thing at a time. I used to make a list of four things I wanted to work on with each of my children. We would actively work on the first one or two items, and give reminders for the third. The fourth was just there as a reminder to me we would get around to it eventually.Do you have a plan to train your children? Do you even have a firm idea in your mind of what it takes to train them? There are three steps to training: 1) You have to share knowledge – Your kids need to know why what you are asking them to do is important to you and God and why it needs to be important to them. Kids don’t retain lectures. Come up with creative ways (I know, this takes time!) to teach them the moral character traits that are instilled in hearts that live for Christ. 2) Knowledge alone will not motivate children to work on a character trait like to be kind to their siblings. They need the practical application that goes with the knowledge. In other words, they need to know how to do what you are teaching them. 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 if she could share a toy with her brother telling her that is being kind. For your 8 yr. old, ask him/her to give you one way they can show their sibling kindness. 3) Children need motivation to follow through with putting what you are teaching them into practice. “Motivation” has two sides; the first is to praise them when they do what you are working on with them, such as showing patience. The second is “consequences”. Before you start working on a character trait with your child, have in mind what appropriate consequences can be applied when necessary. The most effective consequence is taking away the privilege of whatever they misused. Remind yourself what they were supposed to do, then think about what they were doing instead. That is what they misused. Knowledge, application and consequences are the three-steps to effectively train your children, and all three are required to do the job successfully. Step back and evaluate the level of obedience each one of your children have. If it is not better than 75%, then put that at the top of your training list. Sit down with your spouse and come up with a list of three things for each of your children that need work. Think in terms of character traits. Don’t put down you want to teach them to remember to do their chores. Put down you want to teach them responsibility instead. That is thinking in terms of character traits. Now you might use following through with chores as the tool to accomplish this, and that’s okay. Take your spouse on a “kid date” (because you are going to talk about the kids) and come up with goals and a plan and get to work! Now that we can look back at our parenting years, we would rate the time we took to proactively train our children in Godly character as one of the best things we did. All 3 of them love the Lord with all their hearts and it just doesn’t get better than that.