The following article was written by Krista Guerrero, CEO of Intellectual Baby and creator of the Monkisee products, for our “May”keover Month series:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
What if, instead of just stumbling through parenting, we actually had a plan and did things with purpose? After all, these little charges that are in our care were given to us by the LORD. Perhaps these are the talents we have been given, as mentioned in Matthew 25:14-30. How are we molding our children and training them up in the way they should go so that they do not depart from it? There is no way to raise great kids without purpose and planning. By beginning with a proper Biblical foundation we can save our children from much unnecessary pain and failure in life.
Prior to having the first of my six children, I had envisioned what my life would be like and how my children would behave. When concerned friends warned me that I had better child proof my home before the arrival of my daughter, I made a mental note that I would teach my children not to touch things. (This occurred while visiting toddlers who pulled knives from my low open cupboards.) I thought that there had to be a better way, and I was sure my children would be obedient angels.
About a year later, as my perfect angel was eating fistfuls of dirt from a houseplant, I was all for childproofing my home. However my spirit seemed to believe there had to be a better way. I remember reading Parenting magazine from cover to cover trying to find answers to such questions as, “How do you change a baby’s diaper while they are kicking and rolling around? How do you keep a child from throwing themselves on the floor? How do you keep them from eating the soap if screaming or slapping their hand doesn’t work?” I could not find the answers to these questions anywhere and I was frustrated and in despair anytime a situation arose in which I did not know how to control my child. This little person was getting the best of me and I was making a lot of mistakes.
Miraculously I was given a book that discussed training your children. I was hooked from the first page. This was the philosophy I had prior to having my own children and now someone was here telling me how to accomplish these goals. I was elated! Within the first few pages of the book it mentioned that God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the garden. He did not evil proof the garden. He simply commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of it and He expected them to obey. Why should it be different for parents? Why should we just move things up higher and higher out of a child’s reach? All we are teaching them is that once they are big enough or clever enough to reach the forbidden object, they can have it. What about physically manipulating them to do what we want them to do? Again, we are teaching them that we are in charge because we are bigger and stronger. I warn you, for I have seen the wrath of a child in the middle of a temper tantrum. If they were bigger or stronger – the parents would be in serious trouble.
Our job as parents is to walk in the joy of the LORD and to teach it to our children. We want children that obey and are sweet, not because they fear any form of punishment, but because it radiates from their heart. Perhaps you have heard of the child that was asked to sit down but did not want to. The child replied, “I may be sitting on the outside, but I am standing on the inside.” The parents of such a child are raising a rebel. Our job is to reach their hearts. When my children were smaller, and for some reason appeared grumpy or miserable, I would explain to them that we are called to walk in joy. The LORD wants us to serve Him with joy and thanksgiving. Therefore, a bad attitude was addressed, discussed and dealt with. I would have the child march around the house singing, “I have that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” This was done until the bad attitude was extinguished and they really were full of joy. Oftentimes, I would march and sing along with them and in no time, we were walking in joy.
Being a deliberate parent requires time, focus, and energy. People that claim they don’t have time for their children shouldn’t have them. Children require all of our time. They are not trophies to set on a shelf and admire, they are meant to partake in life with us. We should always include them and let them know we value and treasure them. Children that have a strong bond with their parents do not like to be out of fellowship with their parents. They aim to please their parents and bask in their love. As mother or father is working, the child should be permitted to join in. Jobs that the child can handle should be assigned to him and he should be praised for helping. As mother washes the dishes the young child can help by pushing a chair right next to mother. When my daughter was two years old she could wash the dishes amazingly well. I called her the best baby dishwasher in the world! She loved it. By receiving praise and appreciation for her work, she learned to love working by my side. This spirit of wanting to help is present in all children. Their goal is to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. They are the most eager and wonderful students in the world. However, if we continually ignore them and expect them to play and stay out of our way, they will soon be trained to avoid helping. They will expect to be served and this is so dangerous for their character. These little people want to imitate and accomplish all that they see being done around them, and there are no limits to what they can learn. The period of time from birth to five is a critical period for learning all things. We have things so backwards if we believe that they don’t need to do much until they are five or six years old and ready for school.
This brings up the subject of early learning – which is utterly fascinating to me. I have seen how effortlessly children learn things and there is no better student than a young child. We must seek to have patience and look for opportunities to teach our young children about the wonder of our world, about our wonderful creator and about academics as well. I quickly learned that children have the ability to memorize things effortlessly. I would read a psalm to my girls before putting them to bed for the night. Within two days they were filling in the last word of each line. By the end of the week, they knew the entire psalm. This was a marvelous discovery for me and I sought to teach my children to memorize scripture and poems. This led to another question. If they can memorize verses and poems so easily, what else are they capable of learning?
By the time I had my fourth child, I had discovered the magic of early learning. Due to the experiences I had with my other children, I had no doubt that I could teach my kids much more than I had previously thought was possible. What an amazing journey this has been. Having a deliberate plan for my kids has made an incredible difference in their lives and mine. I was able to teach my babies to read – not because they were gifted above any of their siblings or other children we know – but because they had the opportunity to learn to read. As parents, we often place limits on what our children are capable of doing. However, at this age they know no fear or failure and are willing to try anything as long as it is presented in a fun and joyful way. As they succeed in an area it creates motivation to continue growing and learning. The first five years are wonderful for shaping and molding our children into citizens of God’s kingdom. They do not need to be five or six years old to learn how to behave, how to read and write, or how to help out around the house. Invest in your child in the early years and you will save yourself and your child from a lot of future pain. You will be establishing a solid foundation in which you will continue molding them and shaping them into all that God has created them to be. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. This means that if we do not deliberately train them in the way they should go, they will have much difficulty conforming to a better way.
“Deliberate” Steps That Can Be Worked into Your Parenting Routine Daily:
1. Walk in joy and teach your children to walk in the joy of the Lord. Cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving by daily pointing out things you (and your children) are thankful for all throughout the day. Thank the Lord each morning for a new day. Thank Him for answered prayers. Thank Him for good friends. Thank Him for nice weather, the beauty in nature, etc. Make sure you exude an attitude of thanksgiving and praise to our Creator in front of your children so it becomes second-habit to them as well.
2. At the earliest age possible, give your children responsibility. We are put here on earth to serve our Lord, and service is both expected and meant to be done with thanksgiving (and if we are following our Lord’s calling, our service to Him should be a joy). Let your children have “chores” that they can enjoy because they will feel like they are contributing to the family. Dishes, laundry, dusting, etc. – and let them know how much their contribution helped and served the family.
3. Take the time to personally teach your children each day (even if your children are already in school). We are constant students of our Lord and will continue to be taught by Him our entire life. The Lord desires those who are “teachable” (humble) for His service. Let your children see how much you value teaching and learning so that they love to learn as well. If your child is very young, work on teaching them colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. It just takes a few minutes each day. Babies and toddlers can even learn to read if they are worked with for just a few minutes each day. To find out more about how fun early learning can be, visit www.monkisee.com. We created the MonkiSee products to make learning easy and fun for young children. Read to your children. Spend time educating them at home each day as well, even if it is only 30 minutes a day. This quality time (no matter how small) really matters and lets them see how important education is to you.
4. Worship with your children. One of the best ways for our children to learn that the Lord wants us to serve Him with joy and thanksgiving is for them to experience worship with us. There are many ways this can be done – through music, through prayer, through Bible study, etc. They are some wonderful family-friendly CDs put out by Seeds Family Worship (www.seedsmusicstore.com) that you can listen to with your children to learn memory verses and worship our Savior. Pray with your children. Pray for their teachers (school or Sunday school), their friends, etc. with them. Read Bible stories with them or include them in family Bible study time. My family gets together each morning to read and study the Bible. The training the children receive is invaluable in helping them live their faith. We are strengthening them in their walk with God as children so that as they grow they will not depart from Him.
5. Talk with your children. Just as children are often capable of learning more than we give them credit for, children are often able to understand more than we give them credit for as well. When you are disciplining your children, talk with them about why you are doing so. Discuss what God wants for us, and how you want to parent your child as God parents us. Explain to them why obedience is important from a Biblical standpoint. By talking to your children when they are disciplined, you can set the foundation for attempting to reach their hearts as opposed to simply correcting bad behavior.
Krista has been kind enough to offer a special discount on Monkisee products for Shepherd My Child readers who are interested in learning more about how fun early learning can be! Simply go to www.monkisee.com and use code SMC20%OFF. This code will provide you a 20% discount off any products purchased individually. It does not apply to the reading kit, the DVD collection, or the flash card collection, since these items are already discounted. However, you can build your own special with the coupon and receive 20% off your entire order! I encourage you to take advantage of this great offer Krista has generously given to Shepherd My Child followers! I have used her products since my son was 10 months old, and they are GREAT! I highly recommend them!
Thank you, Krista, for your wise insight and suggestions to help us “may”keover our current shepherding routines and aid us in becoming more deliberate parents! We appreciate you being the first author for our “May”keover Month series!
Readers – Check back next Wednesday for the second post of “May”keover Month!