As an On Purpose Parent, our main goal is to raise our children to become interdependent, life-long followers of Jesus who desire to make a Kingdom contribution. The main way we are going to do this is called the On Purpose Parent (OPP) Plan.
The second Age/Stage of the OPP Plan is Grades 1-5. This is where your main Role is that of a CRAFTER and your main Goal is that you will “Nurture Their Faith.” The following paragraphs are to help you Understand and Appreciate this Age/Stage your child is in.
In elementary years, children begin to become aware of their individuality. They develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities. They need to cope with new social and academic demands. Success leads to a sense of competence, while failure results in feelings of inferiority.
Kids in this Age/Stage seek praise and support from those around them. If parents offer support and a sense of accomplishment, they feel competent and productive. If they don’t receive positive reinforcement for their accomplishments, they may feel inferior or incompetent.
Now it’s time to Adjust your parenting technique. In the previous Age/Stage, we described your Role as CAREGIVER. You don’t give up this role, instead you add another role… CRAFTER.
As your child’s CRAFTER, you’re the most influential person in their life to provide them with confidence in their identity, forming their values, and giving them the positive reinforcement they need. Your main Goal for this Role is to “Nurture Their Faith.”
Here are 3 ways to Nurture Your Child’s Faith:
1) Develop your child’s CHARACTER
Because they are so easily influenced and moldable at this age (like little sponges), they will soak up the character traits and values taught and modeled by mom and dad. If you aren’t in the habit of…
> having conversations about Jesus with your child
> reading God’s Word with your child
> praying throughout the day with your child (meals, car rides, before tests, games, bedtime)
> attending church weekly as a family
> serving/helping others with your child
…now would be a good time to start. It would be amazing for you as a parent and would also help your child understand that their identity is in Christ and God’s values for living.
2) Help your child learn to make wise CHOICES
Far too many parents wait far too long before allowing their children to learn basic decision-making skills. This Age/Stage is the right time to begin to loosen the rope of control just a little bit in some of the areas of smaller consequence.
Here are a few examples of how you can help them learn to make wise choices:
> Instead of saying, “Your room needs to be cleaned right now.” Maybe you say, “Your room needs to be cleaned before bedtime every night.” Something this simple allows your child to begin to make choices about priorities, procrastination, and planning.
> Allow your child to skip breakfast one day and talk about how that effected their energy level at school.
> Let your child determine on their own if they’ve studied enough tomorrow’s spelling quiz. Giving your child the freedom to make smaller, less consequential, choices when they are young will help them develop the skills needed to make larger decisions as they get older. Be sure to praise them loudly and often when they make the right choice.
3) Help your child recognize and experience CONSEQUENCES
The elementary phase is the ideal time to help your child recognize and experience two types of consequences:
> Predetermined Consequences – these are consequences that have been explained ahead of time. Such consequences might include a loss of certain privileges for failing to do their chores, disobeying a parent or mistreating a sibling.
> Natural Consequences – these are consequences that don’t need to carry an addition form of discipline because there are consequences built in. Let’s use two of the examples mentioned earlier: a) if your child decides to skip breakfast, they’ll have a lack of energy or be hungry long before lunchtime, b) if your child decides they have put in enough study effort for tomorrow’s spelling quiz, they will soon discover the natural consequences…good or bad.
Helping your child recognize and experience consequences for their behavior is one of the most important favors you can do for them as their CRAFTER.
Oftentimes young children make a very infantile, but honest decision to follow Jesus. But because of their age, there really isn’t much to it. This Age/Stage is your chance to begin to “Nurture Their Faith” as you help them understand their identity, form godly values, and shower them with encouragement and affirmation.
This will set the stage for them as they enter their adolescent years and begin to “Own Their Faith.”