Training of child goes beyond teaching and preaching. It involves everything that will make the child grow up to become healthy, useful, responsible and fulfilled adult on the one hand; and everything that will make him/her fit for the kingdom of God on the other. Therefore, when we train our children, we’re preparing them for a future on earth and a future in eternity.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Our training must therefore be aimed at developing two things in our children: responsibility and creativity. In other words, our training must be targeted at helping our children develop roots or responsibility and wings of creativity.
When children are grounded on the roots of responsibility, it makes them thoughtful and careful of their actions and decisions in life. But they also need to have the wings of creativity so that they will be able to maximize their potentials, discover new opportunities, and achieve what you as parent could not achieve. Children that are not ell-trained and well-equipped will end up in the wrong place here on earth and eventually in the hereafter. Therefore, parent must make deliberate effort to have godly influence on them.
How we train our children will bring about six things: (1) it will determine how they live and how they will end up their lives. (2) It will determine when they will get saved. (3) It will determine how they will choose their friends. (4) It will show them how to trust people, whom to trust, and what level of trust to have in different categories of people. (5) It will determine their view of life. (6) It will determine how they handle problems and opportunities.
There are countless dangers in child neglect and parental indulgence. The great number of preaching/ministering parents who neglected the training of their children to their own shame and sorrow stands as a warning to us all. We all know the examples of Eli, Samuel and David. They neglected the training of their children. Eli was a high priest, Samuel was a prophet and David was a king in Israel. They occupied important offices and positions. Their task was so demanding that they neglected the training of their children. They suffered for it and so did the whole of Israel.
Effective Guideposts in Child Training
“Train up a child …” This means you are to give special attention to each child. Because each child is unique, you train the way he should go. And when he gets older he will not forget the personal attention you give to him and he will not depart from it.
Training a single child and of all the children is the joint responsibility of both parents. The father can not do it alone, neither can the mother. Both have important, complementary roles to play. “My son, hear the instructions of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). The father cannot limit his role to just be the bread winner of the family. He must also create time to instruct and teach and train the children. And the mother can not limit herself to just working to complement the husband’s earning or being occupied with domestic chores. She must be involved in the training and moulding of her children.
With the upbringing of our Lord Jesus Christ as a guidepost, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). The first are is wisdom – which refers to the mental development of the child. The second is stature – which refers to physical growth and development. The third is favour with God – which point to spiritual development and fervency. The fourth is favour with man – which highlights the social development of the child. These four areas are very important to the well-being of any child. Just as a table becomes unstable if any of its leg is missing, so it is with children development and stability in life. If any of these four areas is missing, the child will have an unbalanced, unstable life.
Acceptance and appreciation:
“And Joseph said unto his father, they are my sons, whom God hath given in this place. And he said, bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them” (Genesis 48:9). Joseph showed that he appreciated his children and was proud of them from the way he referred to them. A parent that has such attitude towards his/her children will find it easy to train them in the right way. “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18). Let every child have a sense of belonging in the family. Let each child feel loved, accepted and appreciated. Try to avoid comparison between your children; otherwise, you will end up destroying the child you are always condemning. Call your child sometimes and put your arms across his/her shoulder and say I’m so proud you are my child, I love and appreciate you, and never let any child feel unwanted.
Provision of basic need:
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1Timothy 5:8).
Be sure to provide your children with all they need to grow and develop properly. Give them good attention, love and care. Let your child have some privacy and personal belongings without unnecessary intrusions. It’s part of the basic needs of your child.
Balanced protection and exposure:
It’s good we expose our children as much as we protect them. We should be balanced because going to the extreme in either way will bring grave consequences. If we over protect our children, they become pampered and spoil. If we over expose them, they get into serious dangers. Our children should not be allowed to mingle with other wayward children or relatives that have questionable character. We shouldn’t bring such into our home so that our children will not emulate their bad behaviour. “Send thine hand from above: rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, form the hand of strange children; whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is right hand of falsehood” (Psalms 144:7-8).
Centrality of God and His word in the Family:
“ … And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thine soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
The presence of God should be visibly felt in the home and in the lifestyle of the parents. We must diligently teach our children with God’s word at home. And God’s word must take precedence in all we do.
Fellowship with children:
There should be parental involvement and assistance in the spiritual, academic and physical activities. Create a friendly atmosphere in the home. Your children should not have difficulty bringing their questions and problems to you for answers, explanations, and solutions. When they approach you with such problems, sit down with them and show them the way out. Play with them, don’t let your children live in perpetual fear of you, such that whenever you’re in the house or returning from work, all the children go into hiding. Let there be love, fellowship and involvement in the home. Spend quality time with your children. Share the scriptures with them; share life experiences with them; share their worries, fears and concerns with them. When you do this all the time, you children will learn to trust and confide in you. Even when they done something wrong, they will be willing to confess to you without you forcing or interrogating them. It is also necessary to pray with your children, know their friends and those who influence them. Visit them in the school, know their teachers and caretakers and their activities in the school.
Instructions, assignment, supervision, correction and encouragement:
Training you children involve giving instructions and following such instructions up with assignments. Assignment here is not limited to academic work. Your daughter for instance needs to know how to do some basic things in the kitchen as early as possible – how to light the stove, boil the water etc.
Correct her on any mistake and encourage her on how to perform better. Let her know her efforts have not been a waste of time and energy. The same applies to your boy-child. They need positive feedback from you as they carry out the assignments you give to them.
Assistance and support in development:
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
Patiently assist and support your children as they grow up. Even when they become born again, they can still make mistake as a result of exuberance or immaturity. After all, there are times when you as a parent makes mistake. We should forbear with our children and make efforts to forgive them of the pains they unknowingly cause us.
Endearing love and discipline in child Training:
There is need for both love and discipline in child training. But love comes before discipline. If you don’t show love to your children but often discipline, you will end up destroying him. Love you child before you discipline him. Love him while you discipline him and love him after you’re through disciplining him. Let him know in the tone of your voice and the expression of your face that you truly love him even if you have to discipline him. “For whom the Lord loveth, he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:12).
Discipline can take the form of scolding, warning, spanking, or denial of some important things (excluding food), depending on the severity of the offence. But don’t insult or ridicule your child. “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Never make any derogatory comment about whatever any physical defect or disability the child may have. Doing that will not correct the defect; it will only make the child sad and depressed. Condemn wrong act but don’t condemn the child. Criticise wrong behaviour but don’t humiliate the child. Discipline him appropriately and don’t be sentimental about it even if he cries. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chastiseth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24). Besides, there is no sense in flogging a naked child. Your intention is to correct the child not to deform him/her. Don’t discipline with wrath.
Moreover, for discipline to be effective, you need to study and understand the nature of each child. Not all children are affected by flogging or spanking. So you need to find other effect means of discipline them. Moreover, you should not bear grudges against your child. Once the discipline is over, let love and fellowship continue as if he had not done anything wrong.
Discipline of child is not the duty of one parent, both the father and the mother must agree on how to discipline their children and there should be no indulgence or passiveness from either parent.. Otherwise, the children will see the active parent as being unnecessary cruel and they will always run to the
Indulgent parent for protection when undergoing discipline. This will hamper successful training of the children. There must be oneness and agreement between the parents for training to be effective.
Efficacy of Example in child Training:
There is a great power in parental example. The kind of actions, attitudes, atmosphere that prevail in the home will go a long way in shaping a child’s character and the way of thinking. “Behold, everyone that useth proverbs shall use this proverbs against thee, saying, as the mother, so is her daughter” (Ezekiel 16:44). What our children see us do have a greater impact on them than what they hear us say. If our children live with criticisms, they learn to condemn. If they live with hostility, they learn to fight. If they live with gossiping, they learn to disrespect and belittle others. If they live with tolerance, they learn to be patient. If they live with ridicule, they learn to be shy. If they live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If they live with confidence, they learn to confidence. If they live with fairness, they learn justice. If they live with security, they learn faith. If they live with fear, they grow up standing at the end of every line – they will be afraid to take their rightful place in life. If they live with praise, they learn to appreciate and stand for what is right. If they are spoil with indulgence and permissiveness, they grow up full of compromise and greed. If they are given challenges and responsibilities, they grow up with values and goals. If they live with depressions, they grow up looking for ungodly gratifications. If they live with optimism, they grow up thinking they were to fly. If they live with hate, they grow up blind beauty and true love. If they live with love, they learn to be kind and unselfish. If they are constantly reminded of all the bad things we observe in them, they’ll grow up to become exactly what we hope they will never be. If they live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love wherever they find themselves. If we always tell our children we are happy and proud to be their parents, they’ll grow up believing God loves them and that He’s on their side all the time and has placed them here specially to fulfill a definite part of His global plan and purpose.
Let your children live with love, appreciation, encouragement and praise. Remember your children’s future is in your hand, to a very large extent.
Akinbowale Isaac Adewumi