This verse has comforted me many times when I have worried about my children. I know that even though they sometimes make poor choices, I have trained them well when they were little and they will find the right path in life as a result. Training a child means that you help them to develop their skills and discover their strengths and weaknesses. Teaching children to make choices, suffer consequences to poor choices and to reap the rewards of a choice well made is a very important part of their training. The worst thing you could do as a parent is to shelter them from all consequences and failures. Failure is good and a necessary part of the learning process. Allow your children to make mistakes and teach them what to do with their mistakes when they have made them. Children who grow up fearing mistakes and consequences will struggle with things such as faith and risk. They will spend their life playing it safe and miss out on so much of life. Allowing your children to make mistakes also teaches them grace and patience. It’s also important to allow them to feel the weight of their decisions and mistakes. Don’t allow them to make mistakes and then remove the consequences from them, that will be counterproductive and they will not learn much at all.
The Bible gives us an idea of how involved we need to be with our children. Training and educating our children is not the responsibility of the Sunday School teacher, school teacher or any other teacher. We are supposed to be so involved in our children’s lives in such a way that we take full responsibility for their training and education. If we do not take responsibility for their instruction then they will learn things elsewhere and who know what they will learn. It’s perfectly acceptable to allow the school to instruct the children in academic matters but don’t assume that your children will learn the things of the Lord from other people too. In fact, they might learn things but not the things that you believe to be true. Taking time to be involved all aspects of their training as well as their spiritual upbringing is essential.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” It seems that lack of training about Godly things can lead children to frustration, exasperation and even anger. Our children need to know that there is a God and that He is a good God. They need to know about Him and know Him. According to the thesaurus, wrath’s antonym is “happiness” and “love” which means that with proper training and admonition of the Lord, our children will grow in happiness and love. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? There is definitely something beautiful land peaceful about teaching our children about God and His ways.
There are four main areas that we can focus on when training and teaching our children: 1. their natural gifts and talents, 2. their character strength and weaknesses, 3. their general knowledge and life experience and, 4. their spiritual growth.
Natural Gifts and Talents
A big part of training your child is to observe them, to study them, so that you can find their natural abilities and gifts and encourage them to purse what comes naturally. It is far easier for them to work with their natural talents than leave them frustrated with trying to become someone they are not! When you notice something that they do well, take time to point it out and encourage them in it. The simplest things can be an indicator of a natural inclination such as keeping their room tidy could mean that they are naturally organised and possibly could have the gift of admin and management. If you notice this, give them a task to see if this is one of their talents.
Music and art can be picked up from an early age too. If you have toy instrument in their toy box, see if they spend time tinkering with them or if they show no interest at all. Do they prefer to play in the garden or on the computer? Try to tell the difference between an actual computing desire to simply playing games – you never know, you could have the next Bill Gates on your hands. I could list every profession here and the starting point for each, but I am sure you can figure that out for yourself. The key is to observe your children; they all have something special locked away inside of them. Try to draw it out.
Character Strength and Weaknesses
It’s never too soon to learn about your child’s character. Each and every moment is an opportunity to help them grow in character. Good qualities should be rewarded and encouraged so that they know that they are good. Kindness, gratitude, sharing, helpfulness and all these sorts of things are good character and if you want them to keep it up, reward it and encourage it.
The same is true for poor character and weaknesses. It might not be necessary to scold them for all the weaknesses but perhaps use each instance as a teaching opportunity. Sit down with your child and explain why their character weakness is not acceptable and teach them how to overcome it. If they are only punished but never taught then their character flaws will not be changed but will only be suppressed. This is why some many children struggle through their teen years. Their suppressed character flaws rise up and assert themselves as they gain freedom and independence from their parents.
General Knowledge and Life Experience
Another area of instruction is in our passing on of knowledge. It is wonderful when parents and grandparents take time to pass on what they have learned in life. Music, sports, academic knowledge, housekeeping, financial management, farming, entrepreneurship and so much more can be taught and passed on to our children from a very early age. Children who receive this sort of training have a much better chance of leading a successful life with meaning and purpose than those that don’t receive this sort of instruction. As parents, let’s not take what we know for granted but let’s pass it on to our children. Even if they don’t follow in our footsteps, at least we know that they had options and could make a wise and educated decision about their future.
Teaching your children about spiritual matters is the most important teaching you could ever give them. If they understand that they this incredible side to them and the ability to connect to the living God, they then will gain a freedom that even many adults never attain. The Bible is a book filled with life changing principles. It was written for us because God loved us so much and wanted us to know Him, and to know how to live the life He created for us, well. Knowing, understanding and applying the Bible to our life will help us to unlock our potential and purpose. Teaching our children, as we grow and learn, only means that they will have a head start in life. Teach your children from as early as possible to love God, to love His Word and to talk to Him naturally and freely whenever they want. You will see them flourish in a whole new way and live life on a different level.