We come now to the fourth area of parenting focused on by Mary and Joseph. In Luke 2: 52. Find that, “Jesus grew… in favor with man.” I understand this phrase to mean that parents are to help a child to learn good social skills now and for their future as adults. This means learning how to be kind to others.

Areas to “Grow in Favor with Others”

A child needs direction and encouragement on how to view and interact with siblings, playmates, peers, classmates and teammates. These young people are a child’s “man and women” to accept and treat in a fair and kind way.

Examples include:

  • Sharing but not taking or monopolizing toys
  • Respecting the food or property from another child
  • Refraining from saying “mean” things, hitting or hurting another
  • Demonstrating good communication skills, like talking and listening to others
  • Being a friend who cares and helps a peer
  • Being inclusive with others, not rejecting or a “mean-boy or mean-girl”
  • Learning to do their fair share of chores and work
  • Understanding that it is wrong to be mean to others

Encouraging Respect for Peers

As always, I encourage natural and practical consequences for teaching a child social skills. Some rewards may be:

Positive outcomes: A child can gain the full benefit of playing with siblings and peers. This can serve as a reward itself.

Parental encouragement: In addition, having a parent or other adult supervising and saying positive things can act as another reward. For examples, “You two look like you are good friends, playing so well together.” Or, “What makes you tow such good friends? How you play or share or talk?”

But do intervene when you see behavior that you’d like to change. Consider speaking with your child when you notice an unfair situation; explain how the negative behavior affects others. Sending their friends home early, removing a favorite toy, or calling for a time out are all constructive interventions to stop undesirable behaviors.

Implications for Children

As may be apparent, the social and communication skills learned in childhood are the basis for life-skills as teenagers and adults. Think about how nice it is for us to have friends, classmates, colleagues, neighbors club, community and church friends who show kindness, consideration, and are helpful. Conversely, recall how tense, hurtful and painful it can be when a “friend” misuse us or fails us in some way.

Many of the qualities demonstrated by adults have had their origin and are first revealed in childhood. Selfish and mean child early in life – if not taught and corrected as little children – become selfish and mean adults. How many friends, colleagues and maybe a partner or spouse have you been confused, frustrated or hurt by in social settings?

I hope this brief series was interesting and helpful. It arose out of years working with parents who were uncertain about how to understand and intervene in the behavior of other children.

I hope the key verse from Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” was helpful, and seeing that Mary and Joseph helped the Son of God grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Christian counselor Dr. Douglas Frey believes in Biblical principles and bringing forth God’s grace in meetings and sessions. Call or email Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789). He is a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis, Edina, Minnetonka and other Western Suburbs.