Children Must Believe These Three Things
by Kathy Koch, Ph.D.
When you parent so your children believe three things, their hearts will be impacted and they will be motivated to succeed. This translates into less stress and anxiety and more peace. Who wouldn’t want that?
Just three beliefs equip children to find their way around roadblocks. They won’t be stopped. They’ll see potholes up ahead and wisely negotiate their way around them. They won’t get stuck. U-turns won’t be as common, but when they’re necessary your children won’t freak out.
These are like miracle beliefs! What are they?
#1 — I Have Value
Making sure children believe they have value is among the most important things you will ever do. This identity issue affects everything including how motivated they’ll be and the direction of their motivation. They need to know they have value now. They don’t have to grow up, become more obedient, or earn an A. They have value because a loving, intentional God created them and Jesus died for them. These realities give everyone value!
If children don’t believe in themselves, they don’t need to be good at anything. They can be satisfied with Cs, Ds, and Fs. Getting into trouble all the time won’t phase them. Memorizing Scripture won’t be important. Obedience isn’t important. Excellence is irrelevant. Learning is unnecessary.
Children who do know they have value are often motivated intrinsically, from the inside. They internally recognize what is good for them and respond accordingly. They’ll be more self-motivated. Children who value themselves are also easier to motivate extrinsically, when necessary. They believe in obedience, excellence, learning, and so much more.
What conversations do you need to have with your children about their value? Make the opportunity to talk in specific terms. In addition to the value we all have in Christ, what specific values can you share with them? A friend has always told their first-born daughter that she made them a family. She beams when they remind her of that. What value do your children have?
Does your daughter’s joy inspire her grandmother while she’s going through a hard time? Did your son’s love for music inspire his dad to start playing the guitar again? Does your son’s kindness often encourage you at the end of a long day? Let them know they matter for who they are and for what they do.
Children need to understand they’re important. They’re not more important than anyone else, but they do matter. If they don’t believe this, nothing much matters.
#2 — Learning Matters
When children believe they have worth, they are more likely to value learning. If they don’t have worth, they don’t need to learn anything.
It’s easier to identify content and lessons that will interest your children when you know them and you’re in a positive relationship with them. Valuable content, in turn, increases their motivation and reinforces the truth that learning matters.
If you homeschool, you have the freedom to select content your children will be more motivated to learn and engage with. If you’re not homeschooling, you can still guide your children to content they’ll care about. Within the teachers’ guidelines, you can help children choose topics for papers they have to write and projects they have to complete. For example, for a history course, children could study a person, people group, location, event, or problem that relates to their interests.
Making a good match is only possible when you know your children. You’ll know them when you start with their heart. What are their strengths and interests? What’s important to them? What goals do they have for the future? What are their dreams? Why do they think they’re alive?
Kids who value learning will have a much richer and more successful life. Learning is not just important for children in school. Learning matters forever.
#3 — My Future Can Be Bright
Believing their future can be bright is the third belief that causes children to be motivated in the right direction. It’s connected to the others. Children who know they have value believe in their future. Because they think of themselves positively in the present, they project a positive future. This includes a near future of next month, a distant future of high school graduation, and a far distant future of meaningful service to the Lord.
Valuing learning also matters for today and tomorrow. If they lack confidence in their tomorrows and don’t believe in their future, they don’t need to bother with today. They don’t need to learn anything. Or be obedient. Or be kind or loving or much of anything else. Apathy and irresponsibility will serve them well.
Just three beliefs! When you prioritize your children, and not their behavior, and work to have quality relationships with them, they’ll believe these life-changing truths. Start with the heart!
Taken from Start with the Heart: How to Motivate Your Kids to be Compassionate, Responsible, and Brave (Even When You’re Not Around) by Kathy Koch (©2019). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
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