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