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Do Your Children Know “Why” It Is Right To Do Something?

Pick up your toys.” “Clean your room.” “Be good.” “Stay out of trouble.” “Settle down.” “Be kind to your sister.” “Let your brother go first.” These are common statements made by every parent. As parents, we need to give our children the ‘moral reason why’. Which of the statements above would be ‘moral’ in context? Depending on the way your children do the tasks, they all could be. A task, such as picking up toys, is just that, a task. Unless of course, it is done incorrectly. It could become rebellion, or maybe not. If it is rebellion, it is usually done in anger. You know your child just didn’t want to do it. How do you know if it is not rebellion? The answer is simple: Did they know how to do it in the first place?


The problem today is we get so busy things slip between the cracks. In other words, have you told them ‘how’ to do the task? 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. When my girls were in preschool, I had their toys in bins. I would carefully sort them each week into the bins, and expected them to stay that way when the girls put their toys away. They didn’t stay that way and the toys would be such a jumble the girls could never find the toy they were looking for, a frustrating occurrence.


My mom was visiting one time when this happened, and she asked me how the girls knew what went into each bin, as they were all the same color. We went out and got different colored bins. That problem was solved, as all I had to do then was say, “Please put your books in the red bin.” With older kids, do they know exactly what you expect to see when you say, “Pick up your room?” My son, when in 5th grade once said to me, “My room is picked up!” He had picked everything up off the floor and put them in piles on his dresser and shelf. We set some guidelines that worked for both of us.


Be good” “Stay out of trouble” and “Settle down” are neutral statements. You really expect your kids, especially if they are with other kids to stop and define what ‘good’ or ‘trouble’ looks like, or to know 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. If he doesn’t know, have him sit until he comes up with something. Then ask him if he is willing to do what he came up with at that time. Again, 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’.


Asking questions will show you what they 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. 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 ‘defining’ as simple as they have the maturity to understand.


Showing Love to Your Children

Every child needs to know his parents love him every single day. How do you show your kids love? Many parents see it as a time to buy them more things. Think about it, do your children need more stuff? Is this the only way you can show your kids you love them? By showering them with gifts? If your kids are not ever satisfied with what they already have, giving them more may be teaching them greed is okay.

Perhaps you choose to show your children love by allowing them to do what they beg for. Unless your kids/teens are good at setting their own boundaries, we hope you use caution when opening the door to unlimited freedoms. Giving children freedom of choice is another way parents think they are showing love to them. Well, it seems harmless enough to let them choose what they want to wear, eat, drink, play, and so forth. Harmless that is, until they choose not to pick up their toys when you tell them to. They don’t understand in their parents’ minds, freedom of choice is a one-way ticket – they can choose what they want to do but not what they don’t want to do.

You might be thinking that the only kind of love we think is appropriate to show children is ‘tough love’. What some call ‘tough love’ we see in a different way. We encourage you to set a biblical standard for your children’s behavior at all ages and stick to it. So if you want to show love to your kids in a way they will truly benefit from, then be consistent when training them to submit to the standard you and God have set. If you are consistent in setting and reinforcing boundaries when they are young, you shouldn’t need to when they are teens (because they will know how to set them for themselves) and you will be able to enjoy your teens instead of trying to rein them in.

We all know children need unconditional love. What does this mean? It means you need to show your children you love them without conditions. Do your kids think you only love them when they do their chores, keep their room picked up, homework done and so forth? Find a way today to show each of your children you love them without conditions!

The Mom’s Notes presentation, “Understanding the Funnel” and “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Part 1 & Part 2” will assist you with setting appropriate boundaries for your children.


Children Can Have Quiet Times

There is a parenting resolution that we think it is worthy to consider making, and that would be that all of your children have devotions. How many of you have trouble consistently having your own Quiet Time? To teach your children to do so at a young age will be giving them a wonderful gift for their entire lives. Even infants love to listen to their mommies tell them a story and sing to them.

If you have children under 5 years, set aside a time each day to read to them from an age-appropriate Bible or devotion book, sing a song about God and pray with them. How long will this take? The only way to make time for it consistently is to do just that, plan a time in your schedule when you know you can do it. Given their attention spans, a few minutes at most is all that is needed. When our son or daughter-in-law tell our 19 month old grandson it is Bible Time, he hurries to a certain chair, picks his Bible Storybook off a table and hands it to his parent.

Children in Kindergarten – 2nd grade will still need to have their devotions read to them. Get a notebook and write down their answers to the questions at the end of each day’s lesson and their prayer requests. Be sure to write down the answers to these requests too! Can you give up ten minutes a day to help your child with this?

When kids reach 3rd grade and above, have them start their day by having devotions on their own and write down their answers themselves.

After dinner on Saturday nights, Joey would have our kids get their notebooks and Bibles and would invite them to come and share with him what Jesus taught them in their devotions/Quiet Times that week. Our children looked forward to this time with their dad.

Take the time now to start your children in the habit of daily Quiet Times with God if they do not already have them.