We’re often asked the question “How early can you start using a heart-based approach with kids? Here are some thoughts about one ingredient, the biblical concept of honor:
We believe a heart-based approach to parenting starts at Day 1. At the National Center for Biblical Parenting we’ve identified different character qualities to work on and develop at each stage along the way. During infancy your child is learning about the world around him or her and developing communication skills. Our job as parents is to get to know this new person and help establish strong communication patterns.
Parent and baby are studying each other and learning how to function effectively in this new relationship. We believe the character qualities to focus on are trust and security. Your infant is learning to trust you, learning that the world is a safe place, learning that if he or she cries, someone is there to help – either feed, or comfort, or meet some other need. This interaction is vital to healthy development, and is a way that we, as parents, demonstrate honor.
Every time you hold your baby and gaze into his or her eyes, you are communicating “You are special.” As children grow through infancy into toddlerhood we want to continue to see the world through their eyes. We adore their growing personality and delight in their discoveries each day – that’s honor.
One of the best ways we can honor our young children is to take life slowly, try to stay in the moment and enjoy each little expression, each demonstration of unique personality, and to care for, caress, and delight in this amazing little person.
In the toddler stage you’ll need to begin setting limits and adding schedule restrictions. Do your best to do this with gentleness, not harshness. Limits also communicate love, and how they are set and reinforced communicate honor.
As toddlers and preschoolers, children generally love to demonstrate honor back to their parents. They thrive on delighting mom or dad. Giving gifts and planning simple surprises for others always bring smiles and giggles with young children. Fun games can foster taking initiative – activities like the honor square or “find 3 things to put away in the playroom” get kids looking for ways to be helpful.
We want honor to characterize how we relate to one another inside and outside the family. Setting the tone early with a young child will make the task much easier. And of course, as husbands and wives learn to demonstrate honor to each other the benefit trickles down over the kids as well.
To learn more about honor, consider the book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.
About Biblical Parenting
The preceeding Parenting Tip is from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. Click on the link to subscribe for FREE E-mail tips. The Elkhorn Hills UMC Adult Education Committee has sponsored parenting classes from the National Center for Biblical Parenting in the past. A number of their books are available in the Elkhorn Hills UMC library.