As you unpack your son's backpack when he returns from school, you find a Star Wars space ship. "What's this?" you ask.
"It's mine," he insists.
"Really? I don't recall buying one for you. I'm sure it isn't yours."
Now, you're really concerned. Not only has your son lied to you, but it appears that he has stolen something as well. It may be easy to know when your first-grader lies, but the real challenge is to not be disappointed or frustrated and realize that this is an opportunity to teach your child the importance of honesty and avoiding bad behavior. This is just one example of a child behavior problem.
This isn't a time to feel guilty because you know that training and instructing your child in righteousness is up to you, but you just don't know how to do it. If you follow Jesus’s model in teaching his Apostles, your child will have a good chance of making decisions that are both mature and godly. The following tips will most likely help you, but remember that your child lacks life experiences and will certainly make mistakes along the way. The learning process includes several phases such as teaching, demonstrating, and providing opportunities for guided practice. It is guided practice that offers your child a place to make mistakes that is safe. As a parent and a Christian adult, you can stand by to offer advice or help when and if it is needed. Feedback and correction are also provided by practice.
Tip #1: Your children should know God and the behavior He wants.
Jesus was a teacher, and he used scripture and Old Testament quotes of verses to teach the Apostles principles. He used real-life examples of what God expected from them. You may take your children to Sunday School once a week, but that is not enough. You must teach your children the principles of godly behavior and righteousness on a daily basis. For instance, your children should realize that acting out in anger is not a righteous way to solve a problem.
Reading fables to your children can provide real life examples such as Birbal Caught the Thief with the story’s moral being: “The truth will always prevail.” Reading fables or parables can provide outstanding examples of ways to avoid child behavior problems.
Tip #2: Just as Jesus was a perfect example for his disciples, so, too, you should be an example for your children. If you tell your children not to lie and then turn around and tell a lie in front of your children, you have undermined what you said about lying. You must set examples for obeying the commandments of God.
Tip #3: Your children should have opportunities for guided practice. You should set guidelines for your children but make sure that they have many opportunities to make their choices themselves. If they should make a poor or questionable choice, ask questions. By asking questions, you can lead your child to thinking about the choice. By all means, don't pounce on them and demand a better choice. By asking questions, you can guide your child to make a good choice. It is important that you understand poor choices are usually the result of a lack of life experiences and not rebellion.
Tip #4: Teaching your child how to live a righteous life takes a lot of patience and above all time. Jesus spent every day teaching the Apostles for three years. Every waking hour of every day was devoted to teaching and guiding the Apostles as well as providing opportunities for practice. You must understand that to teach your children to make the right choices will take a lot of time and effort, but the result will be well worth it. It will save you from the pain and heartbreak of your child developing child behavior problems or making poor choices now as well as later in life.
Tip #5: Be your child's model of anger management. There may be times when your child exhibits bad behavior by acting out indicating the need for anger management skills. The best way to avoid child behavior problems is for you to model good behavior. For instance, if you should angrily snap at your child because you are in a hurry, it is important that you apologize with an explanation of how you were feeling. You might also say, "I should have had more patience and counted to ten." It is important that your child sees that you practice what you preach.
Don't lose faith. Following these tips won't make your children perfect, but if you teach them well, they will grow to be mature, righteous and godly adults.