So how do we address these external fears that paralyze our children? If relationships at home are healthy, then a child's ability to cope with external fears comes from their internal value system. Let me explain. The reason a child is devastated when conflicts arise between parents is because a child's parents are one of their most valued treasures. Children place a priceless value upon a mom and dad who love each other. When there are unresolved conflicts or divorce, a child's greatest value has been threatened or destroyed, thus suppressing his motivation.

For children who have an undeveloped level of reasoning but an overdeveloped imagination, there is only one alternative while being held captive in school, and that is to escape! Yes indeed, while listening to the lectures of well-intended teachers, children like me appear to be listening, but we've really been transported to some distant land. For example, when the history teacher begins to lecture on Marco Polo, children like me are riding in the caravan as we are about to meet Ghengis Khan.

Unfortunately, by the time our imagination is brought back to the teacher's presentation, we are so far behind that we are lost, grappling for someone to help us. We look over to our neighbor only to view their extensive notes compared to our empty page. Next, we are asked to pay attention only to feel embarrassed. Fear settles in, the defenses go up, and off we go to another distant land.

Our low test scores and inability to comprehend what we read are poor indicators of our true abilities. If you could interview my high school teachers and ask if Mark Hamby would be a likely candidate for three master's degrees and a Ph.D., they would politely smile and then laugh. They would ask if this is the same Mark Hamby who hated to read, scored poorly on tests, was easily distracted, and would be remembered more as the class comedian than a scholar.

How did such a disdain for reading and learning turn into an insatiable desire to grow in knowledge, instruction, and wisdom? This is not to suggest that I've arrived, but oh, I do desire to learn. Before we answer the question of "how," let's first look at the reasons behind the lack of motivation to learn:

Value - that which we treasure the most.

Motivations are driven by what we value. When a child's values have been threatened or destroyed, he will build up walls behind which to hide, thereby protecting himself. There is just no room for confidence and self-worth. His most treasured values have just been shattered, and he is not going to be hurt again! These children are often misjudged and devalued by well-meaning adults.

Allow me to illustrate. As I was writing this article I was aboard an airliner. Seated in the front row, I was struggling to come up with a synonym for the word "determined." So, being the shy introvert that I am, I asked the flight attendant seated a few feet in front of me for her help. She smiled and said, "How about the word 'driven'?"

"Perfect," I said. "That will work." A few minutes later she asked if she could hear how it sounded in the sentence I had written. This evoked a conversation on values and motivation. I explained how I believe peace at home is an essential component to self-worth which is governed by our motivations, which are driven by what we value, thus laying the foundation of our character.

"Children who live in fear possess weak character because their self-worth and motivations are based on what I call "descending values." Descending values are self-centered rather than God-centered, and character that is developed in an environment of fear is "self-centered." Children who have been hurt and are afraid of more attacks will insulate themselves as much as possible. The more they protect and isolate themselves, the more they "descend" and fall away from the only true source of love and protection-God Himself.