Helping Children Evaluate Themselves
by Tedd & Margy Tripp
Proverbs 9 will help our children evaluate themselves, “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning” (Prov. 9:7–9).
We used this passage to help our children evaluate their responses to parental authority. I would draw a stick figure of myself. I would ask, “What four words in this passage describe the communication of the parent?” They would search the passage and discover these four words, “Correct, rebuke, instruct, and teach.”
“Wonderful! You guys are so smart. This next question will be really hard, but I think you can do it. The passage describes two different people responding to correction, rebuke, instruction, and teaching and it gives two names for each one. Can you find the names in the passage?”
They would look and look and maybe even need some hints, but eventually they would say, “One is a mocker or a wicked man and the other is a wise man or a righteous man.”
I would draw two children on my paper and we would label one mocker/wicked and we would label the other wise/righteous. I would ask them, “How does this passage say the mocker/wicked responds to correction, rebuke, instruction, and teaching?”
They would look through the passage and find the answer. “He insults, abuses, and hates the person who corrects him.”
“Very good, now see if you can find how the wise/righteous responds.” Again they would look and uncover the answer.
“He loves, he grows wiser, and he adds to his learning.” Then we would ask them for some self-evaluation.
“Which do you think you are being right now? Are you responding to Mommy and Daddy as a wise/righteous son or as a mocker/wicked son? How do you think you usually respond? How would your friends characterize your responses?
“You know something? Neither you nor Mom or Dad are always 100 percent right in our responses. We fail. Sometimes, Mom or Dad responds in ways that are foolish. But we know where to go with that, don’t we? We can find forgiveness and change and power from Jesus.”
We cannot overestimate the value of this kind of shepherding. We are coming alongside our children, identifying with their weaknesses, and leading them to know the power of grace.