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10 Ways You Can Encourage Your Children (Not Make Them Entitled)

  • Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2019 23 Jan
10 Ways You Can Encourage Your Children (Not Make Them Entitled)

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

No parent looks at their new born baby and whispers sweet failings into their ear. Hours of heartfelt guidance begin long before our children can verbally respond …or argue. We immediately begin to build their confidence, invest in their character, and water roots of love. As they grow, our most important task is to lead them to the Father’s feet.

Somewhere in between arrogance and self-consciousness we want our children to land safely in godly confidence. Establishing godly standards amidst a self-consumed world feels is akin to an intense ping-pong match. But humble self-esteem, the type rooted in who God says they are, is attainable.

Parents fight their own threatening thought cycles. We are sometimes too harsh on the days our kids need extra encouragement, and too admonishing when they need to be knocked down a peg. Albeit imperfect, we can raise faith-grounded children by the priorities evident in our everyday lives.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    1. Prayerfully prepare.

    “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11

    Prayer is our line of communication with God. The Almighty Creator of the universe seeks conversation with us. Even through His Creation, God can communicate with us and talk to us. Imagine the hours He’s logged! Before talking to our children, it’s wise to meet Him in prayer and His word.

    When we’re tuned into Christ, we can then honor Him in conversation with our kids. Children often find their way under our skin, pushing buttons to pop our patience and shorten our circuits. When we seek Christ daily, wisdom begins to surpass our ability to maintain our composure.

    What happens when we lose it, anyway? Wisdom allows us to obey God’s conviction and apologize for the inappropriate way we yelled at them…and the name we called them. The life we live sets the bar for what they will hold themselves accountable for. Are we willing to let Jesus set the bar? When they see us seeking Him, and witness our obedience, the conversation is already off to a sprint.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    2. Pray alongside your children.

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

    When we understand the power of prayer, our children are more likely to understand the power of prayer. Pray out loud with them when they are nervous about taking the stage or the field, diving in the pool, or walking into a new school. God tells us to pray about everything.

    Prayer gives us strength and courage beyond our ability because it reminds us who God is and who He says we are. At the same time, it brings humility into play as we are not in complete control. Our choices lie under the sovereignty of an omnipotent God whose heart is moved by prayer.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    3. Encourage them with Scripture.

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

    The most practical way to apply Scripture to a child’s everyday life is by reading it with them. Devotional books help parents foster a daily habit of reading Scripture with their children.

    Often, when we have gotten out of the habit in my house, the wheels start to fall off and the grumbling becomes incessant. When we turn to God’s word together, He always meets us there with an applicable Word. The living, breathing and active Word of God amazes children just as it amazes us. My daughters sometimes cast an accusatory gaze, wondering if somehow I knew what God’s Word for them would be based on how spot-on appropriate it is.

    When watered in the Word, children begin to realize there is an Authority more powerful and all-knowing than mom or dad. God, Almighty Father. Christ, Savior of the Word. Holy Spirit, translator of our mumblings in prayer. Scripture not only encourages our children right where they need it, but also convicts and teaches them, keeping them in touch with Christ-like humility.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    4. Admonish hard work.

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

    When my older daughter picked Colossians 3:23 as her life verse, she had a pair of pointe shoes in the dream bubble above her head. Years later, she’s still working hard towards that goal, but applying her favorite Scripture verse to other areas along the way. Whether it’s writing an essay on why middle school kids shouldn’t have a bedtime or building a complicated Lego set, that small piece of Truth has become a cornerstone of her character.

    As parents, it’s difficult to know when to push and when to pull back, especially at the expense of what their activities cost. Instruments, ballet shoes, and travel teams. We expect to get what we pay for, but God never expects that from us. I am constantly reminded to look in the mirror, and try harder to admonish the hard work they are putting in.

    Instead of looking for ways they can improve, our children will thrive more naturally in those things if we expend our efforts in focusing on what they already do so well.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    5. Focus on who they are, not what they do.

    “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

    It’s important for children to understand they are who God says they are, which is not based on whether they succeed or fail at accomplishing something. In a world structured around test scores, admission processes, competitive travel teams as soon as they drop out of the womb, and schedules busier than my adult calendar, kids need to understand who they are without all of it.

    When children fail or make mistakes, help them to understand, “this is what you did, but not who you are.” The distinction is sometimes life and death for a generation facing high suicide rates in young children.

    As parents, we can look back on the failures of our lives and realize that they formed the strongest parts of us. Those mistakes aren’t who we are, nor are our children’s. Trying to escape mistakes can cause a roller coaster ride of over compensation, fear, and low self-worth. Assure them they are never loved any more or less based on how they perform at the things they do.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    6. Give them the power to choose.

    “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:2-8

    When I found myself losing my patience 10 minutes after I stepped away from my morning quiet time on school days, I decided to flip my frustration into a better strategy. If my kids aren’t ready when it’s time to leave for school, I leave without them. Oh, I’ll circle back around after I drop off the responsible sibling that was ready for school on time. And they can walk in late and explain to the office why. Much like turning around and walking away when they were little, my actions speak louder than yelling up the stairs. I haven’t had to leave anyone behind yet, and I my patience has made drastic improvements.

    Children test boundaries at every age and stage. Instead of giving them the power to flip us out, let them choose. When we take their agenda up to school after the third time they’ve forgotten, alert them to missed assignments before the grade period ends, or take on any of their responsibilities as our own, we’re not watering a God-grounded child. The Bible encourages us to work hard at what we’ve been given to do each day. When we let our children make bad decisions, they experience consequences. Nothing motivates responsible behavior like the pain of consequence. We can love them through it now, in the hope they will choose better and suffer less later in life.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    7. Hold them accountable.

    “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

    Children don’t have a very good concept of time. They make us late, and they beg to bow out of activities before the first game of the season. Choose to hold them accountable to the commitments they make. Of course, we can’t allow them to run our lives while we’re driving them everywhere. Healthy boundaries at a parental level are important. But we can allow them to experience adversity.

    At the end of a sports season, they may discover that what they thought they didn’t want to finish is now their favorite activity. Perhaps the friends they made on the team or at the studio now feel like family. Maybe the first time up on stage solo was so terrifying they almost didn’t do it …but now it’s a part of who they are. Help kids face fear by teaching them to honor their commitments, hold true to their promises, and be good team players.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    8. Don’t expect perfection.

    “Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

    Maybe I’m the only one who does this, but I have to catch myself before criticizing my gifted smart kid for getting a B in anything. It’s terrible, I realize! But she has set the bar so high that I now know what she’s capable of.

    Imagine if God parented us like that. He knows our potential, our purpose, our every thread, and He watches us stumble over it all every day. It’s OK to honor best efforts. We don’t want to raise sloths or lazy little people to become entitled monsters. But be careful to let them be human and trip over all of it every day.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    9. Encourage a “love and be loved” environment.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

    When we have success, or have come through something difficult in our lives, it has purpose. That purpose often begs us to turn around and reach back for someone going through the same thing. To charge ahead by helping others. We don't achieve success completely on our own power. ‘Yes, you studied really hard for that test and got an A, but someone else did, too, and got an D.’ The world isn’t fair, and talents and abilities are scattered across the spectrum.

    Our children will become more confident people as they learn to empathize with others. God has placed all of us in proximity of each other purposefully. When we look around, we will find people to help, to love, and to lead. So will our children. Encourage them to look beyond themselves to understand others.

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  • 1. Prayerfully prepare.

    10. Set healthy boundaries.

    “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

    Boundaries are important in the lives of children. It starts when they are infants on a sleep schedule and a feeding routine. Help them to develop healthy boundaries with their thoughts, studies, activities, friendships, and beyond.

    Balance their activities so that they have time to play in the neighborhood, read a book, or help with dinner. Get them involved in trying new things until they find a few they are passionate about. Let them lead, little by little, until we can begin to let go.

    “Megs” writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. She stepped out of her comfort zone, and her Marketing career, to obey God’s call to stay home and be “Mom” in 2011. From that step of obedience her blog, Sunny&80, was born, a way to retain the funny everyday moments of motherhood. (https://sunnyand80.org) Meg is also a freelance writer and author of “Friends with Everyone.”  She loves leading her Monday morning Bible study, being a dance mom, distance running and photography. Meg resides in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and Godlen-Doodle … all avid Cleveland Browns fans. 

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