Helping Children Cope with Troubled Times

Coronavirus, children, Covid-19The coronavirus. Racial justice vs. gross prejudice. Upheaval in our streets. Heated election rhetoric. I’m having a hard time with current events, and maybe you are too. The constant barrage of conflicting information and (especially) the vehemently angry opinions people express can cause a lot of internal stress! But, what about our underage children? Do they live in a carefree little bubble? Probably not. Children need help navigating times of crisis too.

When the kids are small, flitting from one thing to the next with the seeming blissfulness of butterflies, it’s easy to assume they don’t have a clue what’s going on and/or are not bothered by it. While some of them will voice their questions or concerns, many will not. Not verbalizing their anxieties doesn’t mean they don’t have any. So what do we do to make sure they’re doing okay?

Start by asking questions.

“Is there anything going on that is worrying you right now? About the virus? About the protests? About the police? About other things you’ve heard or seen in the news, or heard Mom and Dad talking about? Are you missing your friends?”

Just like with adults, their worries might stem from only having partial understanding. If we find out what concerns them specifically, their fears might be relieved by our explanations or possible solutions.

Help them gain (and maintain) a heavenly perspective.

Talk about God’s care for them:

  • Assure them that God is always good and will take care of them and the people they love, no matter how bad things look at the moment.
  • Remind them that He is bigger than any problem and well able to fix it.
  • Encourage them to bring their fears to the Lord in prayer and to believe He will answer them.
  • Talk about those mighty angels God sends to keep us safe.

As adults, we have to keep on re-fastening our focus on Jesus and away from whatever trouble is happening. Once is not enough for us or our children. It’s a good thing to frequently remind them of how big God is and that He is watching over them constantly.

Sing happy praise songs together as a family — a lot.

Ephesians 5:18-20 tells us, …Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There’s nothing quite like praising the Lord to get our minds off the stuff of earth and to restore our joy.

Use the Bible to bring the point home.

Read verses and passages together which speak to the concern of their hearts. Are they struggling with fear for the future? Do they need to feel safe? There are specific verses which speak to those needs. Memorize some of them together. Remember, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), so hearing and speaking these verses is a concrete way to change our outlook! Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus speaks of God’s care for the birds and the flowers, is a wonderful passage to explore or review together as a family.

If you need help in finding Bible verses relevant to whatever issues your children are struggling with, there is a section at my website to help you — Encouragement from God’s Word. It is arranged by topics, including “You Need Not Fear,” “God Is Our Safety,” “You Can Have Peace,” “God’s Faithfulness Is Unfailing,” and many more.

If your family enjoys hands-on projects, make those Bible verses stick by having each child create a scrapbook of the Bible verses you discuss. Make it extra-fun with their own special drawings, doodles, and borders to go along with each verse they write out. Maybe the non-artists would rather paste in colorful stickers. You can also help them find related pictures online to print and paste in — pictures of children wearing corona masks but still having fun, kids praying, angels, Jesus the Good Shepherd, etc. One of my favorite places for finding free pictures is Pixabay. It might be useful to you for scrapbooks and other projects as well.

Watch your example.

Keep things upbeat as much as possible. The attitude we project is a big factor in how our children respond to life. If they see us trusting the Lord and not giving in to panic, they will be able to do likewise.

I hope you will find these suggestions helpful in keeping your children free of anxiety during tumultuous times. Do you have more ideas? Please share them in the comments!

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So, You’ve Been Schooling at Home During Covid-19 …

homeschoolingThe kids have been at home for two months and aren’t going to return to school anymore this year. You’ve been doing your best to help them with whatever online studies their public or private school is providing, maybe even supplementing with some side learning activities of your own. But perhaps somewhere along the line, you’ve gotten the idea that you might actually want to homeschool them — as in, you making the decisions about what is put into their heads and how that will happen.

It’s a great choice, and you can do this! It’s not too soon to start figuring out how you will implement homeschooling next fall. But there’s so much information out there, it can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a friend or two to take you by the hand and walk you through it.

Once you get started, the actual homeschooling part isn’t all that difficult, although it will take commitment. The hardest part is just wading through all the available info when you are trying to get started — which is why I’ve tried to compile some great links for you. I like down-to-earth, practical instruction, so that’s what you’ll find in these links.

Start with my New to Homeschooling? series at this blog. At the end of the series, follow the link trail to more helpful information. You might like some of the other topics at this blog, too. Just browse the Article Series section.

You will also find a wealth of homeschool helps at our Character Building for Families website, including our Favorite Homeschooling Links page, where we list a variety of resources, including some of our favorite blogs by homeschooling families. These blogs were handpicked because of their valuable how-to content. Also see our Homeschool Hints and Tips page for plenty of getting started help.

Are you a working mom, but you still want to teach your children? Practical, by Default is a helpful website just for you!

Above all, have confidence that if the Lord is putting the desire to homeschool in your heart, He will also give you the grace and wisdom to do it. One of my favorite Bible passages for when I know I am inadequate is 2 Corinthians 3:4-6: “And such trust have we through Christ toward God: not that we are sufficient by ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, Who also has made us able ministers….”

He will help you, He will help your children, and you will succeed!

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Would you like to build excellent character into your children as part of your homeschool plan? Character Building for Families will help you tackle those weak areas from a biblical perspective. It’s easy to use and inexpensive. And you don’t have to wait until next school year. You can start now!

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Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

When Opportunity Knocks

During this time when the coronavirus is central in our thoughts, we have two perspectives from which we can operate. We can either look at this as a period of fearful uncertainty, or as a season of opportunities.

For those who still have children at home, this crisis can be a doorway to bring them into deeper relationship with God — to show them by how you respond, and through deliberate discussion, that God is loving, kind, and good. For those without young children, perhaps the points I share here will help you to comfort and encourage other people you know.

Remind them that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. God announced this beautiful name in Isaiah 7:14 and again in Matthew 1:23. However difficult things are (or look like they will become), His promise to all who love Him is, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus also said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

No matter what we are going through, He is constantly  with us, watching over us even when we can’t sense His presence. And at the right moment, He will bring us out of the trouble we’re experiencing, too.

Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you. Yes, I will hold you up with the right hand of My righteousness. — Isaiah 41:10

Assure them of God’s unfailing, providing care. Tell them about times in the past when you were in a tight spot and had no idea how to get out of it, and then the Lord came to the rescue. Perhaps it was an unexpected check which came just in the nick of time. Maybe it was a person who arrived in your life and filled a need when you thought there was no one who knew or cared.

Share Bible verses which promise God’s provision:

… No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. — Psalm 84:11

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them who fear Him, upon them who hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. — Psalm 33:18, 19

I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. — Psalm 37:25

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19

Read Matthew 6:25-34 and Psalm 23 together. Talk about how they apply to your family.

Take time to pray together as a family. Teach your children to seek the Lord’s face, to joyfully worship Him, and to intercede for those who are sick or in need. Share with them the many Bible promises which assure us that He hears our prayers and answers them.

Because he has set his love upon Me, … He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him…. — Psalm 91:14, 15

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. — Matthew 7:7, 8

And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him. — 1 John 5:14, 15

Talk about God’s beautiful nature. Psalm 144:1, 2 is a great place to start: “Blessed be the LORD my strength … my goodness and my fortress; my high tower and deliverer; my shield and He in Whom I trust….”

knowing GodOr how about Exodus 34:6, 7? “…The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin….”

Perhaps do a simple study on His character with your children. If you need a simple but thorough guide, you might find my book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God, helpful. Each chapter is short and to the point.

Stress the importance of looking beyond the four walls of your home. Even though physical distancing is the mandate right now, you can still check on elderly or less-advantaged neighbors and friends. Do they need someone to grocery shop for them? If someone has lost a job, could they use a bag of free groceries or other financial assistance? Do they need prayer? Would they appreciate a phone call, just to ask how they are doing?

Read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) as a springboard to present the concept of caring for others.

God uses crisis situations to reveal our hearts and to draw us closer to Him, if we are willing to listen to Him. We can either embrace the opportunity to grow stronger in Christ when difficulties face us (and to lead our children to do the same), or we can miss it. Let’s opt for making the most of it!

Do you need encouragement and comfort during these difficult times? Perhaps the Encouragement from God’s Word section of my website will give you the boost you need. It contains hundreds of Bible verses, arranged by topic, to lift your heart and strengthen your faith.

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homeschooling

 

Character Building for Families,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

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The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Teaching Children True Repentance

SorryIn our time in history, remorse over sin seems to be at a low point, even in the Church. We see people all around us who, when their evil actions are exposed, are more concerned about having gotten caught and the consequences they face than they are with the actual wrongs they have done.

How do we disciple our children to be different, to live the repentant lifestyle the Bible speaks of? As with all genuine character education, it begins with getting at the attitudes of their hearts. Jesus warned the Pharisees of legalism, which tries to present a good-looking exterior, while the interior remains dirty. He told them to clean the inside of the cup first, and the outside would be made clean also (Matthew 23:25, 26). God starts with our inner person. If we agree with Him by dealing with our heart issues first, our outward behavior will fall in line.

Heartfelt repentance is key to the Christian life, but it does not come naturally to any of us. We are by nature prideful. Repentance requires us to lay down that pride and humble ourselves before God and other people. Our children struggle with this just as much as we adults do — but if we help them master the repentance concept early in life, it will become more natural to them as they grow.

Start with talking about what sin is and what it does.

Sin is anything Jesus would not do — anything that does not agree with His utterly good and pure nature. It offends God’s holiness, but it also sorrows His heart. It’s important to help our children understand that when they do bad things, they hurt Jesus as well as other people.

We can have conversations with them such as, “When you were disrespectful to Mommy just now, that hurt Mommy’s heart. And when you hurt other people, it hurts Jesus, too. You don’t want to make Mommy and Jesus sad, do you?” Remind them of what it feels like when their feelings are wounded.

Explain that we don’t avoid sin just to keep from suffering consequences.

If the consequences of sin are the only deterrent in our children’s minds, it will become all about them and nobody else. We don’t want them to develop a “What’s in it for me if I obey?” attitude, because that is selfish. It’s also selfish for them to be concerned only about the suffering they will experience if they get caught. These might be secondary considerations, but if that’s as far as it goes in their minds, they will never come into true repentance.

When painful consequences are the only reason to avoid sin, the temptation is  to think, “How much can I get away with?” “Can I sneak this one in under the radar?” “Is this action worth the pain I will feel?” “How will I wiggle out of this?” Notice the prominent “I” in each of these considerations. There is no regard for other people or the Lord in such thinking.

It’s not enough to say, “I’m sorry,” and move on.

When Johnny clobbers Mary, if all he has to do is tell her “Sorry” before marching on his merry way, the sin has not really been dealt with. It will be easy to do it again without remorse, because he has a painless way out which never touches his heart. Mary might be left with unforgiveness inside, too, because she knows Johnny doesn’t really care at all. He just said the right words to get off the hook!

I believe it is better to teach our children that when they have offended another, they should ask forgiveness. And, our children should also be taught to respond by giving the requested forgiveness. Here’s a link to a free lesson from the “Mercy” unit of my book, Character Building for Families, Vol. 2. It demonstrates how asking forgiveness and giving it can be practiced with our children.

Of course, we can teach them to go through the right actions and to say the right words, but if their tone of voice is grudging and insincere, that should be dealt with too. As we noted earlier, we want to make sure the inside of the “cup” is clean, not just the outside.

It can be wearying for parents to repeatedly deal with bickering between siblings, lying, disrespect, or other sin issues in our children. The temptation is to hastily take care of the problem only on a surface level, so we can move on to whatever we were doing before the distraction came to our attention. But, if we neglect to dig deeper into their heart attitudes, thereby leaving the sin roots untouched, we haven’t really helped them. Like weeds, those sins will continue to crop up again and again.

If you would like to delve deeper into teaching your children how to live in integrity and Christlike character, please take a look at our Character Building for Families manuals. They are economical, easy to use, and sure to transform your family. Sample pages are available for you at our website.

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Character Building for Families