I hope that you are enjoying this series on Christian parenting skills. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but fortunately God gives us the grace to see it through and to help our children grow in love and wisdom. But what does it mean to encourage wisdom?

Encouraging and “Reinforcing” Wisdom

Questions often arise around how can parents facilitate a child’s involvement activities that facilitate growth.

First, as parents you have the ability to design the requirements and structure for all things in your home and for school. Therefore, do this:

  • Create a pattern of family time to read and watch TV with your child.
  • Make Sundays and other church activities a loving, positive, non-negotiable expectation.
  • Monitor school work and encourage exposure to a variety of extracurricular activities (like sports scouts, and music) for at least a brief season and see how your child response.

Second, if your child falls behind or is disruptive in any outside of the home activities, I generally allow those entities to manage the oversight, rewards and consequences for a child’s participation there. Grades, extra work, and even study hall can provide the motivation to do better. If feedback is needed to be received or provided, then as the parent, connect with the leader, teacher, or coach to work things out within that setting.

Third, if you need to step in at home, then frame things like this:

“Honey, this is an important class or activity, and we will help you at home by giving you more time and focus on this subject to study or practice. Therefore, you will not be able to do these other things (like TV, time with friends, etc.) until I have seen you are caught up and doing better on your own.”

Forth, monitor your child’s true ability and interest in a subject or activity. If he or she is not progressing well with a sport or a musical instrument, or if there is truly disinterest in an activity, you may talk to the teacher or coach. See if there are ways to work within those settings to help. and negotiate a plan to continue on a while longer. Do not – especially with extra activities – force or exasperate your child for too long so that it becomes a negative.

Fifth and finally, it may be okay to use one or more of the wisdom categories as a way to reward and motivate a child. I call these “leverage” items. Here are some examples:

If a child is falling behind in school, then (after letting the teacher provide help and consequences) a parent can offer more study time at home (like number three above). But let them know the trade off to help is that the child will have less time with TV or Internet fun time. If instead they are current with school, music, or scouts then the reward is having full time doing all their activities – required or for personal enjoyment. This is leveraging two things together to get equal results.

Or, if the child wants to spend more time in one area but not enough time in another area of wisdom development, then leverage the less fun category with the more fun area. For example if music, scouts or a hobby is self-rewarding for the child, but school, sports or piano is being neglected, then link the positive and the omitted areas together. In this case tell them if they practice or study 20 or 30 minutes a day, then they will be able to have time on the Internet, watching TV, or reading.

The goal is nurturing wisdom so that our children can understand the world, navigate life, develop interests in a variety of areas and have positive self-esteem. I hope this format is helpful.

Stay tuned to the next three areas of raising children the way Mary and Joseph intentionally raised Jesus.

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.