Creating Your Child's Moral Compass
Children aren't born with a moral compass. It's up to their parents to begin the process of teaching them Christian values. However, Christian parents may be unsure how to best introduce right living to very young children. Be assured that by following these parenting tips, your child will learn to turn to God as the model for their behavior. Start Young Children are born eager to soak up information on everything from how to maneuver peas into their mouth to how to roughhouse with Daddy. As Christian parents, your goal isn't just to train your child, but to train them up. And as with everything they aspire to, practice eventually makes perfect. When foundations are laid young, you'll find reinforcing Christian values becomes easier as children mature. A child who is introduced to the idea of restitution at age 6 will comprehend it more fully at age 16 when they have years of practice behind them. Teach About It Building a child's library using Christian media ensures lessons on developing godly character are always at hand. When you settle in to read with your child, include your personal thoughts like, "That was pretty mean. I bet they hurt somebody's feelings. Let's see what happens next." Give the child the opportunity to voice comments, too. Since the Bible is full of stories, it's a great source for little life lessons. Consider the parables of Jesus. When you read about the Prodigal Son, you'll find lessons on the consequences of wasting what you have, apologizing and forgiving, and on how your family (and God) loves you even when you do wrong. These are powerful lessons for anyone. Using the Bible, or Bible-based fiction, as the basis for what you teach reinforces the idea that God – not personal feelings -- is the standard for making moral decisions. Talk About It Christian values may not be obvious to a small child unless you articulate them. It's not necessary to lecture, and it may even be counterproductive. A small child's mind can't yet grasp complex arguments. The best way to talk about morals is to drop lessons into everyday life. One way to start the conversation is by noticing what children's television programs and movies are teaching. Express dismay if a character has lied and doesn't experience consequences. Point out that usually when people lie other people get mad about it and it usually causes problems. Alternatively, be approving of positive Christian traits, even if the media doesn't have the Christian audience in mind. Demonstrate It The most important parenting tip is to exemplify the behavior you want your child to follow. However, you can't model what you haven't internalized yourself. If you want your child to learn kindness, but you struggle with responding patiently, use your Bible study time to delve deeply into that subject for yourself. As you strive to become kinder, the topic will pop up in your conversations and transmit itself to your child. The most important aspect of teaching Christian morals to young children is consistency. Being told once to be honest is not sufficient to instill honesty in a child. Instead, lessons will be built upon as they mature and eventually internalized through repetition. Realizing this allows you to take the pressure off yourself (and your child), knowing that each mini-lesson is just another step closer to the goal, not the endgame itself. As you follow these parenting tips, your child will grow to become someone who learns God is the best standard for behavior.