Of course, no parent wants to raise a selfish child. Yet it can so easily occur.
Love and Logic created a list of six ways to guarantee raising a selfish child. (Hint: You want to do the opposite!) As Melanie and I always do, we’ve taken this list and compared it to what the Bible says. A few in this list may surprise you!
Give Constant Praise
Surprised that this is on the list? If you listen to current society, praising your children should be a large part of the conversations that you have with your child. Yet, Love and Logic says it produces a selfish child. Who is correct? Let’s go back to what the Bible says.
We are created to bring God glory. We do this through using the gifts and abilities that God has given us. We mess up when we give the child praise that is meant for God. God says that our identity should be in Him alone and we are to praise Him, not what He has created. Constant praise creates a “me” focused child. The result is a child who worships himself and his accomplishment instead of glorifying God.
I am not suggesting that we don’t encourage our children. Acknowledge the child’s hard work, perseverance, focus, and creativity. But we need to teach our children that they were created by God in a beautiful, unique way and that they need a Savior. Point the child to the Creator, not the creation.
For example, tell a young child, “Look how special God made your body! He gave you strong arms to help me carry the laundry basket.” Or tell a teen, “I see how hard you are working on this science project. God sees how hard you are working. I am praying that He will encourage you for your diligence.”
Ensure that the Child is Always the Center of Attention
As with constant praise, society tells us that children must be heard and listened to at all times. Yet a child that is always made the center of attention will quickly learn to demand the center of attention. This runs counter to the Gospel which calls us to love others.
According to I Corinthians 13:4-9 love is patient and kind. It doesn’t boast and isn’t proud. It also doesn’t dishonor others and is not self-seeking. There is nothing loving about a child who demands to be heard. Making the child the center of the world is in actuality making the child an idol.
One way to avoid this trap is to teach the child not to interrupt conversations. You can teach the child to put her hand on your shoulder when she needs to talk to you. This demonstrates that the child understands and respects that you are engaged in a conversations and that you will pause to speak to them in a moment. The child learns that the world won’t stop when they desire attention.
Read more…How to Help Children Who Interrupt
Make Sure the Child Never Encounters any Hardships
One of the hardest parts of parenting is watching your kiddo encounter a hardship. Whether self-inflicted or from an outside force, it is painful to watch our kids struggle.
But hardships are part of life and we can not always shelter our children from them. And we don’t want to because hardships can provide some of the strongest character building. Removing all hardships wrongly teaches a child that life will be easy and robs our kids of the opportunity to learn how to realistically cope with adversity.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 31.9% of adolescents between 13 and 18 years old. While there are multiple factors causing this alarming number, some feel that this is at least partially attributed to parents not allowing their children to encounter hardships.
Hardships are an opportunity for people to see God at work, to depend on Him, and to see our need for God in all life’s circumstances. From Scripture we learn that God intentionally allows hardships. It opens our eyes to how sin causes brokenness in the world. And it reveals that He has a better way for us. It is in seasons of hardships that God matures our faith.
Here are some age-appropriate ways to allow a child to encounter hardships.
When a toddler gets frustrated with a toy, don’t swoop in to help. Instead give the child time to work through the frustration. Then guide the child if needed. Give a preschooler the gift of responsibility by allowing her to dress herself. Train an elementary-age child to make his lunch for school. Instead of waking up a pre-teen, provide opportunity for the child to use an alarm clock. Once training has occurred, allow natural consequences to happen if needed.
Buy the Child Everything He/She Wants
As parents we want to see our children happy and leaving a store with a new item is sure to bring about a smile. But always giving the child what she wants leads the child to believe that you have unlimited resources and that every want is a need.
Teach your children that everything we have – including our money – is God’s. We are simply given it to provide for our family’s needs and do God’s work. When your child wants something, discuss the differences between wants and needs. Also discuss waiting (which teaches patience) for a birthday or Christmas and point out similar items that the child may already have.
Rescue the Child from Consequences of Misbehavior
This one goes along with not allowing a child to encounter hardships. Children must see the cause and effect of their actions and behavior. Removing consequences doesn’t allow the child to see their sin or it’s consequences. If the child doesn’t see their sin, he will not understand his need of a Savior.
Instead of rescuing the child, help them understand that you will walk alongside them. Yes, the consequence will be painful, but Jesus welcomes us with love and forgiveness when we repent. Help younger children understand the connection that “Behavior A” leads to “Consequence B.” I have found this easier to teach through characters in a book or movie.
Setting no Limits so that the Child can “Express their Creativity”
There is great fear in the 21st century that squashing child’s creativity, spirit, and personality will break the child. This is based on fear that the child won’t be able to recover and do great things. But as we frequently talk on this blog and podcast, fear is not from God.
Allowing the child to express their creativity teaches the child that the world is for them to use, and their creativity is the only one that counts. There is a fear that boundaries will kill the child’s creativity. But boundaries provide safety and guidelines. Again, as we look to the Scripture, we find that God demonstrates His perfect love by providing boundaries – physical, emotional, and spiritual.
We want to teach the child that creativity is God-given – and God is unrestrainable.
How Selfish Is Your Child?
As Melanie and I shared in the podcast, this list forced us to step back and analyze if we are raising self-focused or others-focused children. If you find yourself on a path that scares you, I invite you to join the April Intentional Journey Group mini series. This group that will equip you to parent according to God’s plan and empower you to discipline without anger or impulse. This week only enter to win a FREE spot in this group.