Showing posts with label Behavior. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Behavior. Show all posts

Mar 2, 2015

Thank You, God, for Dirt to Vacuum

The house was an utter mess. Toys everywhere. Dishes piled in the sink. And a filthy kitchen floor. Try as I might to teach my children to always remove their shoes before they come into the house, they rarely do, and end up tracking dirt, mud, and debris over our light-colored floors. It doesn't help that their daddy refuses to remove his shoes before he comes into the house.

So maybe you can imagine my grumpiness as I, tired from a long morning of homeschool and disobedient children, pulled out the vacuum and began sucking up the mess on the kitchen floor. I found my thoughts were grumbling, resentful, even angry. "Why can't the kids learn to remove their shoes at the door? They aren't new here - and this isn't a new rule. I'm so tired of constantly cleaning up their messes. They need to learn to clean up after themselves!" And so I became grumpier. And more resentful. And more angry.

Then POP! My thought bubble burst. God busted in and I literally stopped vacuuming, stood up straight, and thought, "Why am I grumpy and complaining? Why am I resentful and angry?"

And I began to pray: "Lord, please forgive me for my wrong thoughts and attitudes. Instead, I thank you for the dirt and mud on the kitchen floor. Because that dirt means you've blessed me with young children. Children I prayed earnestly for. One child who is a miracle, escaping death on several occasions. Another who is a miracle because he was born full term. And I am thankful because I have a husband - a man I prayed years for. I am thankful he doesn't take off his shoes! Because the dirt he tracks in reminds me he lives here with me, every day. And that he's an answered prayer.

"Thank you, God! Thank you for dirt to vacuum!"

Feb 3, 2015

An Important Role in the Household - What Your Child Needs to Know

Last weekend, my 9 year old daughter's behavior was hindering me. I can't even recall what she was doing. I just know I was utterly exhausted and trying to get a little housework done. And then it hit me. We'd never talked about her role in the household. So I set aside the dishes and cuddled up beside her.

We're in the middle of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, one of our favorite books in the series. It fit in perfectly with what I wanted to say. "Think about Almanzo [the main character in the book]. He had a very specific role in his family. What was it?"

"Chores," my daughter replied.

"Yes, but be more specific. Who was he doing chores for? Wasn't he doing chores to help his father?"

She agreed this was correct.

"What about Almanzo's sisters? What was there role in the family?" I asked.

"They work in the kitchen and stuff and help their mother," she said.

"Exactly. Their role in the family was to help their mother with her work. Now, what is your role in our family?"

She shrugged. And why wouldn't she? Nobody had ever explained to her what her role in our family is. So I clarified; her role is to be a helper - primarily for me, but also to help and serve others in the household. That's part of her job as a daughter in the Seleshanko household.

My daughter's face lit up. She'd never considered that she had an important role in our household - a role that really matters. She just knew she had to do chores she didn't much like. She couldn't see the purpose behind those chose and why her involvement in them helped the whole family. Suddenly, she felt pride that she could help everyone in the family by doing very obtainable things.

I think this is something most modern day children are lacking. In Almanzo's day, children knew if they didn't perform their role for the family, it could have serious consequences. If they didn't help plant the fields, there might be no food to eat the following year. Today, children are rarely told that their role in the household is important.

But as my daughter really stepped things up and not only began doing her chores more quickly and willingly, but offered to do more to help me around the house, I realized that children need to know not so much that they are Important with a capital I - an overstatement that has lead to a self-centered generation - but that what they do is important.

How dare I deprive her of this vital knowledge? Well, no longer.

Jan 21, 2015

How to Make a Child Safety Kit

Every once in a while, our insurance company gives us child safety kits - brochures, really, designed to give to police in case our children get lost or stolen. This is not something any parent likes to think about, and such ID kits are not something we're likely ever to need. But...if the need did arrive, we'd never forgive ourselves for not having the information handy.

So last weekend, I finally got my act together and filled them out for the first time. I didn't tell my children what the kits were for; I just told them I was going to take their fingerprints - a statement that was met with happy squeals. I jokingly called the photos I took specifically for the kits "mug shots." And the kids loved comparing their weight and height, too. A fun time was had by all, and in just a few minutes, I had a complete kit for each child.

Where to Get Child ID Kits

If you don't have a current child safety kit for each of your kids, it really is worth the little bit of time it takes to complete them. If your insurance company doesn't give them away for free, you may feel uncomfortable about ordering kits online. (You might think: "How do I know this is legit and not some weirdo collecting info on children with families?) So the FBI recommends getting kits from the National Child Identification Program - although there is a fee for kits from this source. (I do love, however, that churches can order bunches of these kits to give every child in their congregation or community.) The Polly Klaas Foundation (named after a famously abducted child) offers kits absolutely free, and is a known and legit organization.

But wherever you get your child safety kit, it should include:
  • A place to put fingerprints (along with instructions and ink)
  • A place for a current photo
  • A place to record, periodically, your child's weight and height
  • A place to record birth marks and other identifying features
  • A place for recording basic contact information (such as address and phone number). 
 Some kits may even include a place for a DNA sample.

Some Other Important Safety Measures

In addition to having a child safety kit, it's an excellent idea to always have a recent, clear, headshot-style photo of each child in your purse/wallet or on your cell phone. This way, if your child does get lost, security or police have instant access to an identifying photo.

Your child should also play a part in his or her own safety. For a complete list of things you should teach every child from the time they are toddlers - with a refresher every few months, click here.

Jul 23, 2014

Teaching Children to Not Interrupt

All children need to learn to respect others. One way they can show lots of respect is by not interrupting when others are talking. I have an easy - yes easy! - and practical way to teach children how to avoid interrupting taught to me years ago by a preschool teacher.
Step 1: Explain to your child why interrupting is so disrespectful. It's best to do this when you're both rested and in a good mood - and before your child starts interrupting. Cuddle, look your child in the eye, and use a friendly tone of voice. Explain that interrupting is just like saying "Nobody else matters. I'm the only person who matters right now."

Step 2: Explain the Interrupting Rule. When your child wants to speak to you, but you are speaking to someone else, they should say nothing, but put their hand on your shoulder or, if they can't reach your shoulder, you arm. You will then place your hand over your child's as a silent way of saying, "I know you want to speak to me. Give me just a moment, please." Maintain this position; then, within in a minute or two, stop and ask your child, "Thank you for waiting, honey. What do you need?"

Step 3: Explain that if you're having an important phone conversation, one that can't be interrupted, you will warn your child before you get on the phone. In such cases, your child will have to wait until you are off the phone to speak to you - unless there is a true emergency. (Be sure to define this, because usually a child's idea of an emergency is different from an adult's. I tell my children that if someone is dying, bleeding a lot, or gets burned, that is an emergency.)

A few other tips:

* Set a good example. If you interrupt others, your children will notice and conclude that interrupting is no big deal.

* Once your kids know that interrupting is disrespectful, they will tell everyone - adults and kids - this new-found information, often in a way that others will find rude. Teach your children never to yell "I was talking first!", but to instead politely and calmly overlook the interruption. With siblings, this will be harder to accomplish, so you may need to teach your children to quietly and politely say, "I'm sorry, but I was speaking first. May I finish?"

* Don't neglect to memorize some Bible verses about the importance of respect. For example:

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'” Ephesians 6:1-3

 "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:10

Feb 26, 2014

11 Tips for Dealing with Grumpy Children

Your cheerful "Good morning!" is met with a frown. Your kiddo complains about any type of breakfast you offer him. The least little thing makes your daughter cry. Or throw a temper tantrum. Or start World War Three. These are The Really Hard Days of dealing with grumpy children - and every mom has experienced them. But there are ways to deal with grumpy kids and get through the day with your sanity in tact:

1. Find at least 5 minutes to tuck yourself away from the kids to pray and read a little of the Bible. Put the kids in front of the television for a few minutes if you have to - because you especially need to focus on God on Really Hard Days.

2. Set aside your plans. Your children are going to need more of your attention than usual, so don't focus on housework or other chores, and try to cancel appointments.

3. Give your children lots of cuddles, hugs, and smiles. Even if they act like they don't want them.

4. Read to your children. If they will cuddle on the couch with you, that's great. But if that causes squabbling, set them on the floor with something to color or draw while you read.

5. Play soothing music. Something like Hide 'Em in Your Heart is perfect. Or maybe some classical music.

6. Take baths. Water is very soothing to many children. Give them each a bath - by themselves - and see if they don't feel better.

7. If it's sunny, make sure the windows are uncovered. Open some windows or doors to let in fresh air. If it's a dark day, turn on some lights. If you can get your child to read, color, do puzzles, or do some other activity under a bright lamp, all the better. If it's near the end of the day, dim the lights.

8. Remove clutter. If the house is a cluttered mess, it's stressful, and that's not going to help anyone on a Really Hard Day. Take a few minutes to pick up.

9. Get moving. If you can, go outdoors and encourage your kids to run or do other vigorous activities. If you must remain indoors, try jumping to upbeat music.

10. Avoid the television. Yes, I know. On Really Hard Days it's easier to set the kids in front of the TV. But the fact remains that TV time tends to lead to poorer behavior in your children. At the very least, postpone TV time until late in the day.

11. End the day well. You may be ever-so-anxious for bedtime, but don't let that make you rush through it. Make sure your children receive your full attention during tucking in. Read. Cuddle. Pray together about the day, asking for tomorrow to be happier. Then kiss them goodnight.

Sep 13, 2013

Handling Pressure with Grace - Guest Post by Liberty Speidel

Being told your child needs some pretty serious medical treatment is the last thing a parent wants to hear. A year ago, I was there. My son, Xander, needed a bone marrow transplant. And while the last year has been anything but a picnic, through the ups and downs of his treatment, God has taught me a lot about grace. Granted, the following are more applicable during large blocks of hospital time, but maybe there's a truth here that can be helpful in your own brand of stress.

Ask questions
When you're faced with a lot of decisions that may affect the long-term health of your child, you can feel pretty helpless. While I frequently have to tell my husband "I don't know," I ask a lot of questions where Xander's care is concerned. Write your questions down—it's clich├ęd, but there's an app for that, so keep a list of questions on your smartphone, if you use one. That way you don't forget what you need to ask.

Find reasons to laugh
In July, Xander underwent his second surgery in five days (to replace his central line, which is used for giving IV medications and fluids over a long period of time). When I got down to the holding area, pre-surgery, the surgeon asked me what my expectations were of what would happen. “Central line placement,” I told him.

"There's not to be a bone marrow biopsy today?" he asked.

I stared at him, bewildered. "No," I said slowly. "That's not scheduled for a couple weeks."

Turns out, one of the physician's assistants on Xander's case had seen that Xander needed this procedure, so he thought he'd kill two birds with one stone—but hadn't informed anyone else!

In situations like these, it's easy to be upset—the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing—but the head doc on Xander's case was relieved when I laughed when she told me what had happened.

God's Got This
My pastor, Dan Sutherland, introduced this motto to our congregation in 2012. It became something I clung to during the past year. Very little in life is within our control, and when you're going through a trial, it's important to remember this. With Xander's transplant, we could choose the doctors who would treat him and the drugs they would use, but whether it worked—that was all in God's hands. While we've got a spunky three-year-old now, we know we're still wandering through the woods looking for the meadow as far as Xander's health is concerned.
Bible Time
I think my dependence on God got stronger throughout this whole experience—it almost has to when you realize how little control you have over this kind of situation. While I didn't find near as much time to read my Bible as I would have liked (or probably should have), I was able to sneak an earbud in and listen with the YouVersion app on my phone. Listening to God's word definitely was a quick way for me to get an attitude adjustment on my bad days.

During this time, my prayers were frequently short snippets or sentences, dispersed throughout the day - not one long conversation at once, but a bit here and there throughout the day. If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably plan to do things differently, although with the irregularity in my son’s five month treatment, it might not have been possible to have a regular prayer schedule.

The biggest thing I learned through this whole experience is to offer everyone grace; even my husband had to receive it on multiple occasions. Stress leads to crankiness, making you lash out at everyone in your path. But if you offer everyone grace and keep a positive outlook, they'll thank you for it—and you'll show Christ to everyone you meet. You may even get a chance to share the Gospel with those who want to know how you keep such a positive attitude!

Liberty Speidel is a wife, mom, and writer of mysteries and science fiction who blogs at Word Wanderings. Though happiest at her computer creating fictional worlds, she enjoys baking, yarn crafts, hiking with her family, and taking very long walks with her family's Labrador Retriever. She and her family reside in Kansas. You can learn more about her son's medical struggles here and here

Jul 10, 2013

Teaching Kids Not to Covet

Coveting, or wanting what others have, is a huge problem in our society. It's what fuels occupy protestors. It's behind the cry for higher taxes. It's the basis of most television commercials. 

I think we all fall into the trap of coveting at least once in a while. Have you ever thoughtL "I wish my husband helped with the kids like her's does" or "It must be great to have a husband who helps with the housework. Wish mine did." Oops. That's coveting. And how many times have I heard other mothers say things like, "I wish we were able to take a yearly vacation like the Smith family." Or, given the right tone of voice, "It must be nice to have a grandma who watches the kids for you once a week." Oops again; that's coveting.

But as mothers, we are concerned not just with our personal sin, but about modeling correct thinking and behavior for our children. I feel pretty certain none of us wants our kids to grow up thinking everything should be given to them, or that if they want something somebody else has to get it for them. But with coveting being such a major feeling these days, how can we prevent them from growing up this way?

* Model good work ethic. 

* Avoid speaking covetous thoughts aloud. But if you slip, by all means, let your kids hear you ask God for forgiveness. You might also use such an occasion as a way to start a conversation about what coveting is and how the Ten Commandments show us it's wrong.

* Give your kids chores to do - no matter their age. Even toddlers can learn to work to make the home run more smoothly. (For ideas for age-appropriate chores, click here.)

* Let your kids work for stuff. For example, if your daughter really wants a new toy, suggest that she earn money to buy it herself. Not only does this help improve a child's work ethic, but it helps her learn not to be wasteful by not taking proper care of things. (And no, she doesn't have to go get a job at a local business, or even with a neighbor. It's just fine to give her extra chores around the house and then pay her for them.)

* Encourage your children to give to those in need. Help them to see that it's their personal responsibility to help the needy.

* Volunteer at a shelter or travel to a third world country (even if only via the Internet). Help your kids see how much they truly have.

* Encourage thankfulness. Every day, have your child thank God for at least one thing. Once in a while, have each child write (in words or pictures) things they are thankful for. When times are tough for your child and he is struggling with covetness, ask him to name a few things he is especially grateful for.

* Read 1 Kings 21. In this story, a king's covetness leads to murder. It's an extreme example, but see if you and your child can think of other stories where jealousy and covetness lead to bad things.

* Help your child think things through. If she is upset because she doesn't have the latest video game, ask, "If you had it, would you really be any happier? What if your friend got 10 new games - would you still feel as happy?" Encourage your child to come to the conclusion that things you can't buy are what truly make us happy.

"A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

"No matter how much you want, laziness won’t help a bit, but hard work will reward you with more than enough." Proverbs 13:4

"You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

"...make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." I Thessalonians 4:11-12

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

" For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” II Thessalonians 3:10 

"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8 

"[Let them do] something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need." Ephesians 4:28

Apr 24, 2013

Motivating Yourself to Do Chores: How Long Do They Really Take?

Sometimes I completely loose my enthusiasm for home keeping. I find myself dragging around the house, putting off chores - or spending my time only on fun things, instead of doing my real job. But there's one easy way to motivate myself. Next time you find yourself putting off chores, give it a try.

My secret? Do the chore. I know, I know; this sounds like a sneaky way of getting you to work when you don't want to. But trust me: Commit to doing it just once.

* As you do the chore, time yourself. If you have a stopwatch, use it. Otherwise, write down your beginning and ending times. Don't trust your memory! You want as accurate a time as possible without getting all type-A about it.

* Do the chore at a normal pace. Don't rush and don't be lackadazical.

* Now note how long it took you.

Very often, I think you'll be surprised how little time the chore takes. For example, I used to dread folding laundry. It felt like it took forever. Then I timed myself and discovered it took me, on average, 5 to 10 minutes to fold everyone's clothes. Just 10 minutes? Wow! This completely changed my attitude about folding laundry and now whenever I'm tempted to put it off, I remember it takes a really short amount of time - and then it's DONE and I feel better.

How do you motivate yourself on days when home keeping is the last thing you want to do?

Feb 15, 2013

Raising Mission-Minded Kids, Part 2 {Guest Blogger Tanya Dennis}

Wednesday, I introduced the topic of raising mission-minded kids. We talked about exciting their spirits and equipping them to share. Today we’ll dive into a third element: Elevating their global awareness. This encompasses both education and action. Below you’ll find a number of resources for teaching your kids about missions and global cultures and concerns, but you’ll also find practical ideas for getting personally involved in missions, right where you are.

Educational Resources
You can raise cultural awareness in many ways. Geography and language study are obvious choices, but they’re only two avenues. Consider taking field trips to cultural fairs, ethnic celebrations and museums. Invite multi-cultural friends over for an international potluck or explore exoticflavors with your own culinary experiments. The possibilities are endless! Here are a few of my favorite books and websites to get you started:

·         Passport to the World {book} Written by Craig Froman, this book offers fast facts, cultural details, tons of photos and interesting stats about 26 different countries. All of this is presented from a missional perspective of reaching the world for God’s glory.
Target Age: 9-12

·         A Faith Like Mine {book} : This is not a Christian book, but it is an excellent resource for teaching children about major world religions. Vibrant photographs, maps and symbols help introduce 11 different faiths, including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It discusses their basic tenets, major holidays, traditions and unique characteristics.
Target age: 8 and up

·         My Passport to India {website} : This is my absolute favorite! I wish one existed for every country. This site features high quality videos with excellent content. Families follow an American guy as he explores India: the culture, the people and what God is doing there. It also includes family devotionals and activities for further exploration and involvement.
Target age: 6 and up

·         Quest for Compassion {website} : Hosted by Compassion, Intl., this website offers an interactive exploration of four countries: El Salvador, Brazil, Ghana and Bangladesh. Kids create a buddy character and then embark on a cultural scavenger hunt to learn about education, economics, living conditions and more in that country.
Target age: 6-10

·         The Caravan {website} : Hosted by IMB, this site explores the continent of Asia with all sorts of activities! Photographs, maps, stories, printables, coloring pages … seriously, a ton of stuff. There is also a tab with helps for parents and teachers.
Target age: Preschool – 6th grade

Ideas for At-Home Missions

Continuing our pattern of concentric circles, let’s start at home. Before children can care what happens on the other side of the planet, they need to care about what happens near home. What can they see that might increase their compassions and awareness? Here are some activities to initiate service and conversations:

·         Neighborhood Prayer Walks: A prayer walk is exactly what it sounds like – you walk around a neighborhood praying for each person you see and home you pass. It’s easy to do with your children and need not be conspicuous. Simply go for a walk. The benefits include exercise, prayer training, community awareness, and possible interactions with neighbors that could lead to opportunities to share the Gospel or serve in tangible ways.

Extend Invitations: Kids love inviting friends to anything – VBS, Sunday School, church clubs … whatever! Encourage them to do just that. It’s simple, friendly and free of pressure.  

·         Participate in Service Projects: Every community offers abundant opportunities to serve, regardless of your children’s ages. When my kids were toddlers, we would prepare and deliver meals for shut-ins or new mothers. We still do that, but now we also help by shoveling snow, raking leaves or weeding gardens for our neighbors. We’ve participated in mural painting projects, food banks and coat drives. My kids’ favorite activities, however, involve hosting garage sales or lemonade and cookie stands to raise money for orphanages or our local crisis pregnancy center.

·         Donations: Got clutter? Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about poverty and missions!

Ideas for Reaching Abroad

You don’t have to leave your home to make an impact overseas, but you do need to be intentional and take the initiative. Here are some reasons to do that and tips on how to start.

Most missionaries say feeling isolated is their greatest struggle. They don’t fit in there and they don’t fit in here; they feel nomadic. By building relationships with these families already on the field, you’ll encourage them while gaining an indispensable education for yourself and your children. Relationships are the foundation to healthy partnerships – and that’s exactly what missions should be!

·         Adopt a Child: For a monthly donation, you can adopt a child through Compassion International, World Vision or a number of similar organizations. You can correspond with these children and their families; learn about their lives and what struggles they face. If sponsoring a child is too much, consider a one-time gift of farm animals, medications or other necessities.

·         Adopt a Missionary: Select one or two families that you know or that your church supports and get to know them. Post their picture in your home. Talk about them with your kids. PRAY for them regularly. Try to reach out to them consistently. Once every couple months is fine. Let them know that you care and are interested in what they’re doing. Thanks to the internet, this is much easier than it used to be. Imagine having your kids Skype with someone in Kenya or Tibet! How fun (and educational) could that be?

·         Send Care Packages: Little things from home can make a big impact. When I lived in Bosnia, we couldn’t find ketchup or peanut butter. One day a box arrived with two bottles of Heinz57 and a jar of Jiffy. You would have thought we’d won the lottery! Due to customs regulations, be sure to check with the missionaries or mission agencies before sending anything. Some countries get a bit tricky.

·         Champion Specific Projects: Perhaps your family could sponsor a well in Africa or help build a school for girls in India. You could host a shoe drive in your community or partner with your adopted missionary family on something specific they need.

·         Visit or Participate in Short-Term Trips: Most recommend that your kids be at least thirteen before joining a team mission trip, but there are no specific limits to visits. If you build a good relationship with a missionary family, why not spend your family vacation in service to them? You’ll get to see first-hand the people and ministries you’ve actively prayed for.

Armed with three ridiculous French phrases, Tanya Dennis taught ESL to Chinese students in German-speaking Switzerland. This after working as a church planter in urban Philadelphia and a humanitarian worker in war-torn Bosnia. Her current role, as mother of two, has proven to be the most challenging. Learn more about her and what she's doing now at

Feb 13, 2013

Raising Mission-Minded Kids, Part 1 {Guest Blogger Tanya Dennis}

Each time I talk about raising mission-minded kids, I see moms’ eyes go wide. They envision their precious babies leaving them bereft and alone, and surely taking any future grandkids to a far-off tribal location where they’ll probably die of some third-world disease.

RELAX. I have no intention of stealing your children or guilting you into releasing them to demise. Quite the contrary, actually. I want you to be blessed. I want your children to be blessed.  How do we do that? By loving God fully and participating in what He is doing. 

And what is God doing? He is pursing the hearts of the lost and growing the hearts of His children. That’s missions. It doesn’t have to include a jungle or deep-fried cockroaches. It’s simply a willingness to love Him fully and share Him with those who need Him. 

The Great Commission Starts at Home

The Holy Spirit challenged the early church to be “witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. “ (Acts 1:8) Looking at a map of theselocations, you’ll notice this call expands in concentric circles. This presents a great pattern for us, too. The Great Commission starts at home, then spreads outward, perhaps to your neighborhood, then your broader community and so on. You don’t have to rush to Siberia. Look in your backyard first. It’s the perfect place to start.

Raising mission-minded kids involves three things:
  1. Exciting their spirits
  2. Equipping them to share
  3. Elevating their global awareness
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

How to Excite their Spirits

Share engaging stories. Get them excited about God’s goodness and the extent of his love with truths from the Bible and contemporary examples. Read biographies of missionaries or historical figures that have made an impact on the world around them. Tell them about Paul and Barnabas, about the glories of grace and truth, the miracles of redemption and salvation. The stories of Jim Elliott, Corrie ten Boom and Amy Carmichael are excellent options. Search Christian Children's Book Review for age-appropriate choices.

One of my favorites is The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews. This book is not about missions, but about history and the rippling impact of small actions. A sparkle of hope ignites my kids’ eyes as we read it. They see that God wants to use them to reach the world right where they are. I love it! 

How to Equip Them to Share

Get out of the way. Kids naturally share what they believe and what excites them. If you excite them about God and what He’s doing, you’ll have more trouble getting them to stop talking than getting them to start sharing. Trust me. When we switched to public schools two years ago my daughter, then seven years old, accosted everyone she met with the love of Jesus. It was a beautifully fearsome thing to behold.

Be an example. If you share Christ freely, your kids will, too. You don’t need to start a street ministry or go door-to-door with tracts. You can, if you want to, but natural evangelism tends to work best – and it’s far less intimidating! Simply be open with your faith. Look for opportunities to incorporate elements of the Gospel into everyday conversations. Point out tangible examples of grace. Ask a friend if you may pray with her or for him about a present trial. Inquire about their beliefs and listen. Ask God to provide open doors and the courage to walk through them. And let your kids watch.

How to Elevate Global Awareness

This step I find most fun. So fun, in fact, that I don’t have space to tell you about it here! You’ll have to come back Friday for tips about prayer walks, pen pals, international dinners, and active partnerships. If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you’ll love this. The resources cross-over geography, social studies and Bible study.

Your Turn: I want to know what you find to be the most exciting truth about God’s character. How can you share that with your kids (or your neighbor) tonight?

Armed with three ridiculous French phrases, Tanya Dennis taught ESL to Chinese students in German-speaking Switzerland. This after working as a church planter in urban Philadelphia and a humanitarian worker in war-torn Bosnia. Her current role, as mother of two, has proven to be the most challenging. Learn more about her and what she's doing now at

Jan 18, 2013

Quiet Time: It's Not Just for Toddlers

My children stopped napping at very young ages, and like most moms, I mourned a little when it happened. The kids still needed naps - and even if some days they didn't, I needed the quiet time naps offered. As time has gone by and I've found myself increasingly stressed at the end of most afternoons, I've learned a little  trick: Quiet time.

Now you may think quiet time is just for toddlers. Not so! Quiet time is actually a blessing for children of all ages - as well as for mothers. Here's how ours works:

1. First, I chose a time of day. My children tend to start getting really cranky around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, so this was the obvious choice for our quiet time.

2. Next, when my children were fresh and in a good mood, I explained that from now on we were going to have quiet time each weekday. (You can do it on weekends, too, if you like.) I explained that in the afternoons we all tended to get cranky and that quiet time would make ours days happier. The children weren't thrilled...until I explained what quiet time was.

3. I explained the simple rules of quiet time: "During quiet time, we will all go into our own rooms. You may take a nap" (expect protests here), "OR you may read a book/look at picture books, OR you may listen to an Adventures in Odyssey or Jonathan Parks CD, OR you may play quietly in bed." Admittedly, the kids still weren't thrilled, but they weren't complaining, either. In fact, my 7 year old was slightly excited to have quiet time away from her little brother.

It's important for there to be no screen time (television, computers, electronic games, cell phones, etc.) during quiet time. Studies show these things are very stimulating. On the other hand, reading a book or listening to a story on a CD has a quieting and restful effect. Also note that while I told the children they could play quietly in bed, I've had trouble enforcing this rule with my 4 year old, so I allow him to play quietly alone in his room during quiet time. This works just fine for us.

4. Mom must follow the rules, too. THIS IS IMPORTANT! I know how tempting it is to use quiet time to do housework, pay bills, or do other work. But for quiet time to truly be effective, mom must follow the rules, too! Nap, pray, read the Bible, pick up a

How long quiet time lasts is up to you. My 4 year old can tolerate about 45 minutes, so that's how long ours is. Sometimes I can stretch it to an hour. I wouldn't go beyond an hour. If 45 minutes doesn't work for you, aim to have at least 30 minutes of quiet time. And don't be discouraged if quiet time isn't all that quiet - especially at first. You an introducing a new routine, so expect it to take some time before the children adjust.

If you stick with it, though, quiet time will be very rewarding. It's amazing how even a short quiet time refreshes and encourages all of us!

Dec 5, 2012

Using Scripture for Correction

It's never too early to read the Bible to your children. But there also comes a time when Proverbs 31 Women must start using the Bible as a tool for correcting her children.

I do not claim to be an expert on this topic. I have but two children, both still young. I have no seminary training. But I do know God admonishes me to correct and discipline my children. (See God's reaction when Eli doesn't discipline his sons, for example. See also 1 Samuel 3:13, Proverbs 29:15-17, Proverbs 3:12, Ephesians 6:4; and much more.) 

One of the most loving and biblical ways we can do this is by using Scripture.

Positive or Negative?

It is perhaps easiest to use Bible verses admonishing our children not to do something. For example: "You shall not steal" (Ex. 20:15) or "the Lord hates...a lying tongue" (Proverbs 6:16-17). These are important parts of scripture and should certainly be known by everyone - parents and kids, included. 

However, I feel it's important to temper these more negative verses with positive ones. So if, for example, your child has a problem with a sassy mouth, you might teach her Ephesians 4:29: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths..." But I also encourage you to include a verse phrased in a positive way, such as Proverbs 16:24: "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." 

I also strongly believe these verses, whether positive or negative, should not be your child's only exposure to Scripture. That could result in a very slanted view of the Bible. So make sure you are reading the Bible to your child every day; be sure to talk about what you read, too.

Not only can verses be positive or negative, but so can you. If you read your child a Scripture with an angry tone of voice, or an attitude that is disrespectful or belittling, you will fail. You might make your child obey for the moment, but in the end, her attitude about the Bible and God will be greatly damaged.

Finding Scripture

There are a few books out there that help parents target Scripture to their child's behavior. Instruction for Righteousness comes to mind, as does The Child Training Bible. And any Bible concordance will help, too. But honestly, I find the easiest tool is Google. Just type in "Bible says about" plus the topic of interest. For example, I recently Googled: "Bible says about mouth" and a number of sites came up listing Scripture on our mouths and speaking. I find this works with most any topic.

Methods of Correction


When your child is not yet able to read or write, I think the best way to use Scripture for correction is to simply read a Bible verse to them, then talk about it. I recommend you read directly from your Bible (rather than just reciting a verse or reading it from some other source) so your child has a visual reminder of where the Bible verse comes from. Be sure to explain any difficult words or concepts. Ask if your child has questions. Then read the Bible verse one more time. 

This sort of correction can be used alone for minor offenses, or alongside other correction (such as a time out) for repeated or more serious offenses. Whether you choose to read and discuss the Scripture before or after the additional correction depends upon your child. Consider when he or she will be most receptive. Try it both ways to see which works better.

Young Children Who Read:

Once your child can read and write reasonably well (usually by first grade), you can select age appropriate/reading-level appropriate verses for him to read by himself or with help. (I highly recommend using NIV, NAS, NLV, or NiRV versions of the Bible so as not to confuse children with difficult language.) Then I suggest you either:

1. Have your child write the verse repeatedly, making sure she reads back what she writes.

2. Have your child memorize the verse.

Either will help your child to remember the lesson being taught. Other ideas:

* Have your child write a paragraph or two about how the verse can be applied to the child's life.
* Have your child act on the verse right away. For example, let's say your child just called his sibling something mean. You might read him Ephesians 4:29, then have him say several uplifting things to his sibling.
* Have your child make a list of things to do/say that relate to the verse. Again, going back to Ephesians 4:29, your child could make a list of words of encouragement he could give to whomever he offended in the first place.
* Do an art project related to the verse. There's no reason this can't be fun! The idea is to help the Scripture stick in your child's mind.

Remember to continue explaining more difficult parts of the verse to your child, and be sure to ask your child if she has any questions about the verse.

Tweens and Teens:

By the time you child is in her tweens, you can ask her to find appropriate Bible verses on her own. Continue to discuss the Scripture with your child, and consider some of the options under #2 (above) to help cement them. Focus not only on helping your child learn about the Bible and what God wants from her, but also on teaching her how to use the Bible as a tool. She should learn how to easily find references on any topic in the Bible, for example.

How do you use Scripture to correct your children?

Nov 21, 2012

Growing Kids with Gratitude

Sadly, one common trait in our society is ingratitude. We may say we are thankful for what we have, but very often the next sentence is, "But I need more." So how can Proverbs 31 Women help their children avoid this trap and instead "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thes. 5:18)? Here are a few ideas.

* Play the Gratitude Game. Start by saying, "The best thing about _____ is..." and have your kids fill in the rest of the sentence. The great thing about this game is that it can be played anywhere (in the doctor's waiting room, in the car, at the kitchen table...) and you can never run out of possibilities. You can ask about everything from God to grandparents to marbles to dirt...the possibilities are endless.

* Keep a gratitude journal. If your children can draw or write, they are ready for this one. Buy them each a notebook and have them decorate it as they wish. Make sure to get a notebook for yourself, too; modeling gratitude is just as important as teaching it in other ways. Then, at a specified time every day, everyone sits down and colors a picture of or writes about something they are grateful for.

* Make a habit of writing thank you notes. For children who can't yet write, make a special phone call to say thanks instead.

* Play a Physical Gratitude Game. You'll find it here.

* Read about - or do Internet research on - those who are less fortunate. Don't limit yourself to the United States - or to the present.

* Keep a Gratitude Jar. Set a large plastic or glass jar in a prominent family area. Have the children decorate it, if you like. Keep Post-It notes or a small pad of paper and a pencil right next to it. Every day, or every week, write what you're grateful for. (For little kids who can't write, Mom or Dad can write for them, but the child must compose the note.) It's especially nice if these notes are about others in the family. For example: "I'm thankful John helped me learn to tie my shoes." Now pick a specified time to sit down as a family and read through the notes.

* Keep a gift list. Instead of having your kids make a Christmas wish list, have them make a list of what they will give to others.

* Count your blessings. After prayer at dinnertime, have each family member name at least two things they are thankful for that day.

* Create a Gratitude Book. Give your children a camera and have them photograph things they are thankful for. Have the photos developed, then have the kids make a Gratitude Book. This can be a notebook they paste the photos into, with a few words about each, or it could simply be a photo album.

* Make sure gratitude is a part of every prayer.

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May 25, 2012

Combating Bad Thought Patterns with Scripture

Recently, a friend and I were discussing how our children (ages 6 and 9) were developing bad thought patterns. Both our kids have begun saying things like "I'm a bad kid," "I'm no good at anything," "Nobody loves me," * and so on. (And no, they don't hang out together.) I was completely taken aback to hear my young child speak this way - especially since I'm certain no person has been telling her these things about herself. My friend and I both agree our children have developed a habit of listening to what Satan says about them, instead of listening to what God says about them.

 While it's vital for parents to tell children who are speaking this way that the child's thinking is incorrect, that they love the child, that the child is wonderful, and that God loves them, clearly this wasn't enough to get either of our kids. Scripture, we believe, is the answer - whether the one with bad thought patterns is a child or an adult.

The Power of Scripture
When Jesus was tempted by Satan, his defensive weapon of choice wasn't fleeing, nor was it his supernatural powers - nor was it even prayer. It was reciting Scripture. If speaking Scripture was important for Christ, how much more so it is for us! And if we have particular areas of weakness, then we ought to focus on memorizing Scriptures covering those areas.

Finding Scriptures
Finding Scripture to combat bad thought patterns isn't always simple. But often, a search for keywords related to the issue conducted on a site like Bible Gateway helps. You can also Google the matter. For example, you might try the search: Bible verses about self worth. Once you find a website claiming to quote the Bible, I recommend looking up the verses in your print Bible (or at Bible Gateway), just to make sure they are quoted accurately. It's also an excellent idea to read the quotes in context.

Helpful Scriptures
If you or your child is struggling with some of the negative thoughts my child is, here are a few Bible verses to read and memorize.

"I'm just a bad kid:"

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." Luke 12:7 

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23

BUT "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

"I'm no good at anything:" 

 "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Romans 12:2

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes..." Proverbs 3:5-7

"Nobody loves me:"

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7-8 

"See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." 1 John 3:1 

"I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me." Proverbs 8:17

"Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." Psalm 136:26


"I wish I'd never been born:"

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 1:28

* If these thoughts are accompanied by depression, please also seek professional help.
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