Your Disobedient Child Has a Mind of Their Own—Here’s How to Shape it Into Something Wonderful - Finds.Life.Church

Your Disobedient Child Has a Mind of Their Own—Here’s How to Shape it Into Something Wonderful

by Jalene Depperschmidt

“My kid will never act like that!” Isn’t that a common response—before we have an actual child of our own? For me, it was observing a disobedient child challenging his frazzled mother during an entire meal at a restaurant that prompted that declaration.

It doesn’t take long to realize that our kids come with a mind of their own, and we find ourselves begging the question of how to shape those minds into a mature, responsible, and enjoyable adult. Some days that feels like a tall order.

I work at a grade school that three of my nine grandchildren happen to attend. Recently while walking the hall I recognized the back of my seven-year-old grandson, Dax, as he was being talked to by his teacher. My curiosity was piqued. When he came into my office after school, I casually asked about his day. His smile lessened and he paused before he replied. “Well, I got in trouble two times today for talking over my teacher.” I asked, “Do you understand why your teacher would be upset? How will tomorrow be different?” Then I just listened. At this point, Dax said something that stood out to me. He said “Grammy, I really didn’t want to tell you any of this because I didn’t want you to be disappointed, but I knew it would be the right thing to tell the truth … so I did.”

I loved this moment. I loved the maturity of his thinking. As a parent, isn’t that the goal? We should take joy when our children begin to lead themselves according to their own convictions and begin to own their faith. It’s unrealistic and unloving to expect perfect behavior from any child. When you’re tempted to label your own kiddo as a “disobedient child,” stop. Instead, view their behavior as a sign of their need for growth and maturity. Remember: each act of disobedience or immature behavior is an opportunity to shape them into something wonderful.

As parents, how do we make the most of these opportunities for growth? How can we shape our “disobedient child” into a mature, fully equipped, resilient human adult?

  1. Keep open communication with your children. No subject is off limits. We have to be able to go where it’s uncomfortable. If we’re not willing to discuss awkward or difficult subjects, the only message they will get is from the world. If you want to help your child grow in maturity about awkward topics, you can be the one to model that maturity for them. You can help them understand how to think about and handle difficult situations—but only if your kids know it’s okay to talk with you about them.
  2. Ask the right questions. This will help your child learn to think through things for themselves. Ask questions about cultural issues by saying “What do you think about ________?” This should be a question you ask regularly. Ask them if their behavior will get them the result they desire. For example: “Is throwing that fit going to get you what you want?” Ask them ahead of time about their plan for different scenarios, such as “How are you going to act in this restaurant?” Or, “Who should you find in a store if you’re lost?” Ask them what they’ve learned after natural consequences have occured. Ask them how they can keep from repeating it. “Is the behavior you’re showing right now getting you closer to the person you want to become?” The list goes on, and these questions should change as your children grow and face mounting peer pressure. When they answer you, they’re forming a plan for themselves. And when they’ve made a plan, they’re more apt to follow it. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. If needed, give them time to come back with a response.
  3. Really listen. Listen to what they say and what they’re not saying. Their answers will reflect their hearts and show us where attention and guidance is needed. No matter what answers you get, the goal is always to lead them back to biblical truth.

The Bible teaches us how to talk to our kids about God’s way of living—the richest, most grounded, most mature way of life any of us can aim for. It doesn’t say we have to sit them down once a day, have them memorize some rules or Bible verses, and they’ll be all set. It’s actually both a little easier and a little more natural than that. Basically, our lives as parents are meant to be spent capturing moments. Just like my grandson had a moment to take ownership of his overly chatty day, I took the moment to help him think about how he’ll grow from it and do better tomorrow. God doesn’t ask us to shame our children. He asks us to teach His ideas and requirements for life to our children throughout each day as the opportunity presents itself.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV

This verse speaks of the importance of being intentional. When we’re willing to put in the hard work of channeling our child’s disobedient choices into lessons to learn from, we’re able to build a mature thinker and in turn a responsible adult.

Age-Specific Ideas for Raising Kids to Grow in Maturity

Here are some quick links to resources to help your child grow in spiritual maturity at each developmental level. You can also try these discussion starters to begin a conversation about spiritual growth in your home.

For Your Preschoolers (Or verbal toddlers—it’s never too early to start!)

  1. Start this Bible Plan together.
  2. Watch this this video with your little ones.
  3. As you work through this topic together, ask the questions below.
    • How can you be a helper in our family?
    • What are some little things you can do to show you’re ready to do big things for God? (getting dressed, brushing teeth, sitting in car seat nicely, picking up after yourself)
    • Talk about something simple your child can take responsibility for at their age—from sorting silverware to practicing a memory verse with a sibling.

For Your Elementary Kids

  1. Start this Bible Plan about growing up.
  2. Watch this Konnect episode with your child.
  3. As you work through this topic together, ask the questions below at mealtime or when you have some time together.
    • Why is it important to say no to sin?
    • Talk about some of your good and bad habits. What is one new habit you can make that will help your spirit grow stronger?
    • What is something you can be responsible for all by yourself that will help our family?

For Your Preteens

  1. Read this Bible Plan about becoming mature with your preteen.
  2. Watch an episode of The Loop Show about maturity and try not to laugh so hard you cry.
  3. As you work through this topic together, ask the questions below at mealtime or when you have some time together.
    • What are some specific areas in your life that may show you’re ready for more responsibility?
    • What are some ways you can earn trust with your parents, leaders, and teachers?
    • What are some mature issues you have to deal with or worry about that I might not know about?

For Your Teenagers

  1. Use the Plans with Friends feature in the YouVersion Bible App to read this Bible Plan about James with your teen. Or better yet, encourage them to start the plan with some friends. Here are a few other Bible Plans on becoming mature for your teen to try: Switch On, Don’t Be Different Alone, and Act Up.
  2. Ask your teen if they’ve seen the latest episode of Switch yet. If yes, watch it so you can catch up. If not, watch it together.
  3. As you work through this topic together, ask the questions below at mealtime or when you have some time together.
    • What goals can you set for yourself to make this your toughest year yet? What’s an area you really want to grow in?
    • Look up and read James 1:2-5 together. How can these verses change the way you take the tests life throws at you?
    • Is your faith strong enough to last through trials? If so, how did it get there? If not, what can you do to build it up so that it’ll endure trials?

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