It’s challenging to find creative ways to teach your children the concepts and behaviors that you know will benefit them as they grow up into older children, adolescents and eventually adulthood. There are so many obstacles and hurdles in their own hearts as well as in their environment that get in the way and steer them in the wrong direction.
As a believer in Jesus and a follower of the Christian faith, I am modeling and teaching my children to love and follow the God who created them, in His image, to bring Him Glory. I believe that there is something that gets in the way of that pursuit. It’s called sin. Even though we are created in God’s perfect image, it is evident from our turn away from God in the garden that there is inside each of us a desire to do what we feel is best rather than what God tells us is best.
This desire is one of the biggest hurdles in a young child’s life. As innocent as they seem, and as precious as they appear, they are continually looking to do what they want and makes them happy (oh, and we don’t outgrow this but rather learn to live in the tension and receive grace on a daily basis). This manifest itself in so many ways, one of them being through our words. Are your kids like mine? Do they fight about things? Do they shout at each other when they’re annoyed? Do they whine about whatever is bothering them? Probably not. But if they are like mine and these behaviors show up from time to time (like every morning when they wake up), then here’s something we are trying to get our point across that God wants us to speak to each other gently.
Harsh words, yelling, calling each other names; none of that builds people up. We talk about and encourage our kids to always be building up their siblings with what they say. A common correction in our home is “Was that building up or tearing down?” They know when they’ve spoken harshly. They know when they’ve hurt a sibling’s feelings. Don’t we all? You and I are the same way, we’re just more pointed about it. We go for the jugular more often instead of inflicting flesh wounds. We often tell our kids, “Your words should be like honey, sweet and enjoyable. Not bitter like vinegar.” We ask if they were using honey or vinegar. It’s an easy example that they can relate to. They know what both of those taste like and they know which one they like.
So this week, we intoduced the “Honey Jar.” Proverbs 16:24 says:
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Whenever they are overheard speakly kindly to each other or building each other up, they move a marble into the Honey Jar. Once the Honey Jar is filled up, we will have a pizza party! We are using a standard mason jar and I challenged them to fill it by the end of the week. That was Tuesday. We’ll see how it goes. There’s a few days left.
How about you? What ideas have you come up with to encourage your kids to make habits out of good behaviors? Let me know.