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Give Your Kids the “Why”

By Joey and Carla Link

November 2, 2022

When kids want to know something, they ask you “why?” This would be especially true of little kids. “Why is the grass green” “Why is the sky blue?” “Why do you stop when the light is red and go when the light is green?” The first 2 questions above are curiosity questions. The 3rd question is a comprehension question, meaning your child is trying to understand something. We suggest you answer the curiosity questions until you can’t bring yourself to do it anymore. Our youngest daughter has the Sanguine temperament and their curiosity radar is sky high. I told her when we got in the car to go someplace, she could ask 3 questions before we got there, then she could ask no more. I got to the store or church with my mind intact and she learned to think before she blurted out a question. A win-win all the way around.

There are “why” questions parents need to take the initiative in asking. In the parenting class “Growing Kids God’s Way” these types of questions were called “the moral reason why”. This, of course is age appropriate. Kids under 5 yrs. do not need or understand long explanations. The shorter and simpler, the better.

There is nothing wrong with explaining how to do a chore and telling your child the reason why he needs to do it is because everyone in the house does them. Is this a moral explanation? “Moral” is “a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. If your child believes he should do his/her chores because everyone in the family does, then your explanation was indeed moral.

What do you do when this child continues to give you attitude about doing his chores? When he/she has attitude coming and going or just refuses to do them, he/she has moved “doing his chores” from a “moral reason why” issue to an obedience issue and it should be treated as such.

The problem with explaining the “moral reason why” to your kids is we get so busy things slip between the cracks. In other words, we are sure you tell your kids how to do a task, but have you also at some point given them the moral reason why? When you have more than one child it gets hard to remember what you have told who. When this happens, instead of telling them again, ask your child a question he would know the answer to if you had told him. If he doesn’t have a clear idea of what you are talking about, tell him again what the moral reason why is.

When you give your kids a task to complete, you have a picture in your mind of how it should be done. Do your kids come up with the same picture? The only way they could is if you have specifically showed them how you want it done, and this must be age appropriate.

We often told our kids to “settle down” when they were growing up. This is a neutral statement. You really expect your kids, especially if they are with other kids to stop and define what you mean by settle down? A different way of handling this would be to say, “Stay out of trouble. Give me two examples of what you think I mean by trouble.” Trouble can vary given the circumstance, so having them define it on the spot puts you and your child on the same page.

Instead of telling your son to be kind to his sister, ask him to give you one way he can show kindness to her and why he needs to be kind at all times. If he doesn’t know why, have him sit until he comes up with something. Ask him if he is willing to do what he came up with at that time and to work on being kind to everyone in the family. If he says “no”, he sits until he is willing.

The best way to teach your children the moral reason why is to talk about it as you go about the normal tasks of the day. When you read a book to a young child, ask a couple questions like, “Why do you think the elephant thought he should be kind to the turtle?” When my kids could read for themselves, when I was making dinner or folding laundry, I would ask one of them to come and read to me and then we could talk about ‘the moral reason why’ behind what was happening in the story.

Asking questions will show you what your kids know. One of my daughters was impulsive and always wanted to be first. To work on this, we told her she had to wait to get in the car when we were going somewhere until her siblings got in. I asked her why I wanted her to do this, and she immediately said it was because she pushed her way in to be first and often hurt one of her siblings. When I asked her why this was wrong, she said because it was not fair. That was an acceptable answer for a 1st grader. That is the other thing to keep in mind when teaching your children the moral reason why; it changes, not in definition but in application with age. Keep your explanations as simple as they have the maturity to understand. This means as they age you may need to explain it to them again, using examples that apply to them at that moment in time.

God wants us to define for our kids what they should do and what they should believe in. How are you doing at sharing the moral reason why with your kids?

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Isaiah 5:20

Positive Ways to Teach and Train Your Kids

By Joey and Carla Link

October 26, 2022

In a recent Zoom parenting class, we were leading, every parent in the class admitted they yelled at their kids, which is a common parenting problem. It is a problem because harsh responses to your child’s wrong behavior can affect your child for the rest of his/her life. It also affects the level of respect your child will have for your authority and respect is a necessary component for a child to obey you.

How kids should be disciplined depends on a number of different factors such as age, maturity level, characterization of wrong behavior, and temperament.

What does discipline do?

  • It helps your child learn the all-important trait of self-control.
  • It helps your child learn to obey.
  • It helps your child develop a sense of responsibility.
  • It protects your child from his/her immaturity and self-will.

In this same class we talked about how discipline can and should be a teacher. You should never discipline your kids because you are mad at them. The discipline you use needs to teach your kids that their behavior was wrong and why it was wrong and give them motivation to remember that the next time they are tempted to do it again.

Let’s talk about ways you can be positive when working with your kids/teens:

1.   Ask questions instead of lecturing. Doesn’t, “I can see you are having a problem getting your chores done on time. What can I do to help you?” sound better than “You never get your stuff done on time! I don’t know what your problem is. Do you stand there and daydream instead of working?!”

2.   Speak life to your kids, or be positive when you talk with them. Instead of telling them what not to do (“Stop hitting your sister!”), ask them to give you something they should do (Mom: “What can you do to be nice to your sister?” Child: “I will share my toy with her.

3.   When giving a consequence to your kids, take away what your child misused. Ask your child, “What freedom did you misuse when you should have been setting the table for dinner like I asked you to?” Let’s say your child tells you she wanted to finish reading the chapter in her book. She misused the freedom to read. Mom agreed and took away the privilege of free-time reading.

She asked her daughter (13 yrs.) how long she thought it would take her to get her stuff done first before she did what she wanted to do instead. Mom knew how much her daughter wanted to finish this particular book, so she was surprised when she suggested she should lose the freedom of reading it for a week. By getting your child (9 yrs. and up) to be involved in this process, they won’t say you are unfair and they will have a calm attitude about losing the freedom of something important to them.

4.   Work on one behavior at a time with each child. It will help you, your spouse and your kids stay focused on what you are working on. If you work on too many things at a time, you won’t be consistent.

5.   Inconsistent parenting confuses your kids because they never know what to expect from you. Consistent parenting teaches your kids if they do a certain wrong behavior they can count on a consequence.

Joey and I, when our kids were growing up would go on weekly dates. The first week of each month we called our “kid date”. This wasn’t because the kids went on the date with us, but rather because this was the only date we allowed ourselves to talk about the kids. Having this time allowed us to review where our kids were at on the behavior we were working on with each of them and on past behaviors we had seen victory in as well.

We gave letter grades to how they were doing and if they didn’t get an “A” or “B”, we came up with one way we were going to be united in working on it with them until they pulled that grade up. If we had fallen into the trap of reminding, we decided on an appropriate consequence to give them instead of constant reminders. This time kept us on the same page in our parenting and since we knew where we were going in the training of our kids, neither of us were caught trying to remember what we were supposed to be doing with a particular child.

6.   Don’t forget about context. Is your child overtired, overwhelmed or overstimulated? All of these will cause cranky kids and requiring them to obey or follow family rules during these times may be more than a particular child can give.

When the winter months hit the Midwestern United States, Joey made sure he found ways for our kids to get physical exercise because we knew that too much pent-up energy was a recipe for disaster.

7.   Have couch time at least 4-5 nights a week. This is a time you chat with your spouse. Your kids don’t have the freedom to interrupt you and they have to know you are doing it. Seeing a positive relationship between their parents gives kids of all ages stability and security.

8.   Don’t forget to meet your kids’ love language needs. Each of your kids needs you to speak love to them in one of these 5 ways: Giving gifts (doesn’t have to be material things), giving your undivided attention to them, giving them cuddles or hugs or just being in close proximity to them like sitting next to them on the couch when watching a movie, giving them words of encouragement (which is not the same as praising them), or serving them in a unique way.

9.   Do remember to praise and encourage your kids. We get on them when they do something wrong, but are we consistent about telling them when they do something right? Praising your kids is more than saying “Good job!” What did they do a good job in? Be specific. “Your room looks great! I can tell you put extra effort into cleaning it” will settle into your child’s heart for a long time.

Encouraging your kids is literally “giving them courage” or hope. “I know you can do a good job on that project for school. Dad and I can’t wait to see it when it is done!” is giving your kids courage to put their best effort into the project.

We hope you feel encouraged to work with your kids using positivity rather than just correcting them with consequences. When you get into the habit of doing what we mentioned above you will find it doesn’t consume a lot of time to be consistent doing them,

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Discipline is a Positive Word

By Joey and Carla Link

October 19, 2022

It is obvious your 7 yr. old child needs something more than you have been giving him to get him to stop hitting his siblings when he doesn’t get his own way. Both you and your spouse have talked to him many times. You have threatened him, bribed him, and caught yourself this morning telling your 3 yr. old daughter the red welt on her arm where he hit her “didn’t look too bad”.

It is time for discipline. One of the biggest problems with disciplining kids, even those who clearly need it, is you don’t know what discipline to give and even though your son had no problem hurting his siblings, you don’t want to give him pain. Disciplining your kids however, is a necessary part of parenting.

Pain is the one thing we all respond to. What gets you to go see the doctor? Pain does. What gets you to drive a bit closer to the speed limit? That ticket you just got that cost a couple hundred dollars does. The #1 reason the discipline you are giving your child isn’t working is because it isn’t painful enough.

What then is the meaning of “discipline”? It is to “penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character.” Perfecting moral character” means to teach them to be kind, patient, use self-control and so on. What discipline is NOT is punishment. To punish someone is to bring vengeance on them for something they did to inconvenience you. They are not at all the same thing. To discipline is to correct behavior, not to cause pain for the sake of pain itself.

To discipline is to teach. Ask any drill sergeant in the military. While they put the new recruits through grueling workouts every day, they will tell you it isn’t just about the physical. They are teaching them how to strength their minds and spirits as well as their bodies. It is obedience training at its finest. No matter what, you do what your leader tells you to. Period. They are teaching the recruits how to push their bodies to do more when they want to give up and how to have the self-control to do what they are told to do no matter the circumstances.

They know what to teach them from the experience of thousands and tens of thousands who have gone before them. Discipline gives rules to live efficiently and effectively. Teachers know they are authority figures and aren’t afraid to use it when necessary. Today, our leaders look upon the experience of the tens of thousands who have gone before them with disdain. We need to look for the good in what they have done, especially those who have learned to parent effectively. Effective parents understand that parenting includes wise teachingand use of authority followed up with praise or correction.

Do you have a plan to teach your kids obedience and the moral character training you are to be perfecting in them? Without a plan you are swiping at symptoms, giving temporary fixes at best.

Where should you begin? Always start with obedience. Ask yourself:

Do your kids come when you call their name immediately, completely, without challenge and without complaining? Give each child over 3 yrs. a grade in each of the above 4 areas. If they don’t, get an “A” or “B”, it is time to get back to the basics of obedience training.

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”

Ephesians 6:20

Are Weeds Choking the Good From Your Child’s Heart?

By Joey and Carla Link

October 12, 2022

Weeds. There is nothing positive about that word. If you are a gardener, it means it is time to get out there and pull them. But pulling them isn’t enough. If you don’t get them by the roots then they will pop up again and again. The thing about pulling weeds is you don’t have any control over when this needs to be done. When they pop up, they need to be pulled out. 

Time spent digging deep and pulling the weeds in your garden is time well spent but certainly not enjoyed, especially as it is usually a chore done under the hot summer sun so you end up hot, tired and sweaty.

Pulling weeds is similar to working with your kids on the sin issues that come from their hearts, isn’t it? If you don’t dig deep and get to the roots, the ugly symptoms will keep popping up, ruining your day.

Pulling Weeds:

1.     Are you parenting only the symptoms in your kids? What do we mean by symptoms? They are the behaviors you see such as running in the house, not getting their chores done, the pets aren’t fed and so on. Dealing with symptoms is not training your kids for the long-term goal of becoming successful adults who love God.

2.     Deal with the roots. When you parent the symptoms you see each day, even though you may be giving consequences (using a weed-eater over the tops of the weeds), the bad behaviors will keep coming back because you haven’t dealt with the rootsWhat are the roots? They are character traits God instructs us to live by in the Bible, such as patience, kindness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

3.     Roots take proactive training to get them to grow into healthy plants. What do we mean by “proactive training”? “Proactive” means you have a plan to “control a situation before it gets out of control rather than responding to it after it has happened.” Instead of yelling at your child when he hits his sister, you have a plan to teach your kids how to be kind and respectful to each other. Once you have a plan in place and you have worked with your kids on how to be kind, then you need to encourage them when they are and correct them when they aren’t.

The Mom’s Notes presentation titled “Using the Bible in the Instruction and Training of Your Children” will help you get ideas on how to proactively train your children in Biblical character traits. You will also find the Mom’s Notes presentations titled “Understanding Character Training, Pt.1 Laying the Foundation and Pt. 2 Getting to the Heart of Your Child” helpful. Pull those weeds up by the roots!

The following are resources for you on getting to the heart of your child. You can find them at

No More Reminders

By Joey and Carla Link

October 5, 2022

Caleb, have you finished your homework?” asked Mom. “Caleb, dinner’s in an hour, is your homework done?”
“Marcy, I told you to get your toys picked up before lunch. Why are they still on the floor?”
“Evan, it’s almost time to leave for school. Don’t forget it’s your turn to take the trash out. Here’s your backpack, put it by the door so you don’t forget it again. Where’s that note I need to sign for your teacher?”
How many times do you remind your kids every day to get their stuff done and keep track of their things? Do you think your kids can’t remember on their own, or they don’t remember because they don’t want to or have to? When you constantly remind your kids you are telling them they don’t have to remember on their own because you are perfectly willing to do all their remembering for them.
We are often asked questions such as, “Can I expect my 7 year-old to remember to make his bed? “Why doesn’t my 12 year-old get his homework done without me hounding him?” “If I tell my 5 year-old to go upstairs and pick up her toys, why can’t she remember to get them cleaned up when she gets to her room?”
Our answer is the same to all these questions. Your kids can remember. The reason they don’t remember to get things done is because you don’t require them to.
About Reminders:
1. You have trained your kids to wait to be reminded. Your kids don’t remember because they don’t have to when they can count on you doing their “remembering” for them. 
2. Give your kids consequences when they don’t “remember” to get things done. We can already hear many of you thinking, “Consequences don’t work.”
 –For consequences to work they must be painful. Trust us; taking away their phone for an hour is not painful. Taking it away for a week is.
-Take away what they misused. Think outside the box. They spoke to you disrespectfully? Take away their freedom to talk.
Caleb doesn’t get his homework done? Let his teacher deal with it. Or, if you homeschool he loses the privilege of doing anything else until it is done. Our kids schooled until bedtime while their siblings were having fun. They schooled all day Saturday after their chores were finished and Sunday after church. They learned to keep up with their schoolwork.
When Evan can’t get everything together he needs for school he goes without. He didn’t get that permission slip for the field trip to you for your signature. Oh well, he doesn’t get to go. He forgets the shoes he needs for basketball practice? He sits practice out. If that means he doesn’t get to play in the next game, he can figure out how to make that up to the coach.  
3. Praise and encourage them when they get their stuff done with no reminders. When praise and encouragement are used effectively, they do wonders in the life of your child.
Stop reminding and your children will start remembering!
Reminding is a habit that is hard for moms to break, but you can do it! A terrific book, “What Every Child Should Know Along the Way” gives guidelines, preschool through college age on what you can expect your children to be able to do without reminding. It can be purchased at Joey and I have written a book titled, “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think” that talks about breaking the reminding habit as well. 
No more reminders!

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverb 22:6 ESV