Building up believers and the New Testament church

Training Children

Some Common Mistakes

There are some common mistakes we make that deserve special attention. They are obvious when pointed out, but sometimes not so obvious when we are in the middle of situations. If allowed to exist, they will have a serious effect on overall training.

1) Obedience with a poor attitude: Many times a child obeys on the outside, but is "standing up on the inside." This can be detected by a frown, a sullied look, a comment, or other show of disapproval. It may seem harmless, since they obeyed anyway. But they have not accepted our will as their will. To allow this to continue only breeds contempt for us and for authority in general, and does not force them to deal with their own hearts. The command that we are giving them is for their own good. Why should they be allowed to judge otherwise? If they are allowed to be in the judge's seat, in the end they will be the losers. Obedience should be with a clear countenance, a willing "Yes, sir," or "Yes, ma'am," and prompt, not sluggish, obedience.

2) Obedience after discussion: "Why?" is often the first response. In other words, "Give me more justification for obeying your command. If your evidence is good enough, I will obey. Otherwise, I won't." That sounds harsh, but that is exactly what the response "Why?" means. They are in the judge's seat, not in the seat of the learner. If they need more information, they can ask for it, but not in that way. When God speaks to them, they will likely respond in the same way. But we do not judge God's commands; we obey them implicitly. Children should be taught to do the same. "I know," is another common response. They do? If so, why are you speaking? Do not allow these responses to continue.

3) Fear of strictness: For some reason, perhaps the permissive age in which we live, we are afraid of being too strict. We are afraid we will lose the respect of our children. May I strongly encourage us to consider this again? Perhaps we have known somebody who was this l way in our eyes. What do we mean by strictness? God is absolute and consistent. He never deviates. He is firm, not "wishy-washy." We do not argue with God. He commands us. God is love--our definition of love should proceed from who God is. He has our best interests at heart all the time. Do we have a proper view of God? If so, is He not to be our example of an earthly father? Firm, consistent, loving direction will never lose our children, but rather gain them. Inconsistent, emotional, and unstable guidance will lose our children. We will lose their respect and the ability to give them needed direction. Love disciplines with consistency and care. It will provide the security our children need, and allow their lives to stabilize.

4) Gaining obedience by reward: "If you do such and such, I will give you a reward." Never! God does not bribe us into obedience. We should give rewards as the Lord leads us, and surprise our children. They will be delighted. But we should never attach anything to our commands, and should expect obedience only because of who gave the command.