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Learn to Affirm Your Children

  • Dr. Walker Moore
  • Updated Feb 01, 2002
Learn to Affirm Your Children
Parents start life with their children enthusiastically cheering them on to take their first steps. But somehow, between age 12 months and the teen-age years, parents find that being a cheerleader gets tougher. As the years go by, we're tempted to get a little lazy. The affirming words take more effort than the nagging lectures. After all, it's hard to clap when you're holding a bad report card. And it's hard to cheer when your child is locked in the bedroom with the stereo blasting.

  • Learn what God says. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thes. 5:11).

  • Use the checkbook method. Like your bank checkbook, raising healthy children depends on making more deposits than withdrawals. The deposits are the loving expression of affirmation you should give your children each day. Every time you give your children affirmation, whether it is a simple I love you or taking the time to listen to a problem and express concern, you are making a deposit into their account. As you continue to make these deposits, their accounts grow richer and they are more prepared to tackle a negative world.

  • Avoid withdrawals. They come in many forms:

    • Nagging. Many parents waste communication opportunities by using their time to berate or lecture their children about shortcomings. Admittedly,
      You Wanna Pierce What?
      From You Wanna Pierce What? by Dr. Walker Moore, copyright (c) 1997. Used by permission of Albury Publishing, Tulsa, Okla.

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      there are times when children need a good talking to, but these should be the exception rather than the rule. A child who frequently hears negative phrases begins to form a picture of himself based on the negative phrases. When he grows up, he will still hear these words ringing in his hears: Why can't you ever...? How come you never...? What's wrong with you? Won't you ever learn?

    • Refusing to listen. Listening often takes more energy than talking, especially active listening. Nothing frustrates children more than to get a predictable grunt, a pat answer, or an inattentive response.

    • Tearing down. Many parents are so frustrated with their children that they use phrases like, Don't be stupid (The child thinks, Mom and Dad wish I wasn't so stupid, they are really disappointed in me.); or You're acting like an idiot (The child thinks, Mom and Dad think I'm an idiot so that must be true.). Children's minds are tape recorders. They record all those negative phrases that we give them, then play them back throughout their lives.

  • Make many deposits. Parents need to make deposits many times each day because your children are having withdrawals made on their account every day by people all around them.

  • Deposits happen when you:

    • Look them in the eye. Parents often are too busy to look directly at their child. Many children spend their day in front of a computer at school or in front of the TV at home, and it doesn't feel natural to look someone in the eye. Make the connection.

    • Call them by name. Explain to your child the importance of his name and why you chose it. Then use the name positively. Get in the habit of saying your child's name lovingly when you are communicating.

    • Give a specific compliment. Avoid generic compliments. When you tell your child that he is great, or fantastic, or special without saying why, you are making a withdrawal from their account. When you tack on the word because, and then give them a reason, their ears perk up and they listen to what you are saying. You are special because you are kind to your little brother. This gives your child something to grasp.

    Dr. Walker Moore is president and founder of AWE Star Ministries, an organization that is "raising a generation to reach the globe with the Gospel." Walker has preached throughout the United States as well as China, Hungary, and Mexico. He lives in Tulsa, Okla., with his wife, Cathy, and their two children.

    If you would like information on AWE Star Ministries write: AWE Star Ministries, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa, OK 74147-0265 or call: 1-800-AWE STAR (293-7827).

    Originally posted on's Live It Channel, bringing you today's best advice from Christian books.