3 Things Our Kids Need to Hear
Much of learning happens through observation, and our kids watch carefully and learn quickly. One day, when our oldest was almost three, she was sitting at the table coloring while I made dinner. In her little sing-song voice she repeatedly commented on the car seat at her sitter’s house using a word we didn’t use at home. It wasn’t a curse word, but it wasn’t a word we wanted her to continue using. Trying to get her to stop was not easy. Once it was in her brain, it was hard for her to unlearn it.
As much as our kids may pick up negative behaviors from us, they also learn important truths. The more we model our faith as a daily part of our lives, the more our kids will internalize what they see and hear. Whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, when our actions and words communicate the same message, it’s a powerful teaching tool.
Below are some things our children need to observe in our lives–no matter how old they are.
“I need help.”
This teaches children so many things. It shows them it’s normal and okay to admit we can’t do something without the aid of another. Asking for their help with things they can do tells them that they are capable of serving others. Most importantly, it demonstrates the need for God’s help in our lives as we turn to Him. Hearing these words from adults as they grow up makes it much easier for them to embrace the idea that we were not created to be self-sufficient. (Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.)
“I don’t know.”
There’s power in those words. We think we need to have all the answers, especially for our kids. And when we don’t, we often find something to say to dismiss the question we don’t have the answer for. But what if saying we don’t know encourages kids to be life-long learners because it makes asking questions second-nature? Going the extra step by inviting your child to be part of discovering the answer together, shows kids where to go for questions. Some are answered by an internet search and a reputable source. Some questions our kids ask require finding people who have knowledge about the topic. And best of all, there are questions that only God, through His Word or Him speaking to us through prayer, can provide an answer. When we ask God for wisdom, He gives it to us freely. (Read Proverbs 2:1-10)
“I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
Admitting you're wrong is hard for some, if not all, of us. Often we feel terrible when we’ve hurt others. Recognizing we’ve sinned against another is one thing, but taking the step to confess our wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness from them and from the Lord is another. Allowing our kids to see how we handle situations when we’ve been wrong is important. Even more so, asking our kids for forgiveness when we’ve wronged them is priceless. When we ask our kids for forgiveness, they internalize the message that adults make mistakes, too. If we never do it, kids can grow up without a deep understanding about the importance of forgiveness and forgiving others as we’ve been forgiven by the Lord. Telling them what to do when you sin is only part of their learning. Teaching kids through our actions and letting them know that you’ve also asked God to forgive your sin gives them a more complete picture of confession and forgiveness. (Read Psalm 32:1-5.)
No matter how old your kids are, sharing these messages through words and actions with a sincere heart can teach them where they’re at. Be encouraged in your parenting and grandparenting. You are the best and most important teachers in the lives of your kids!