Parenting that Encourages Excellence

Posted on · Posted in Communication

The Christian life is so much more than avoiding negative things. It is primarily about engaging in thoughts and activities that bring honor to God. In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul urges Christians to focus on things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Here are two examples:

Two young children are fussing and complaining.

Negative response: 

“Why can’t you two just be quiet! Being noisy and fussy is a distraction to everybody in this house. I don’t want to hear any more unpleasantness, and I mean it! Do you understand?!?”

Response that encourages excellence: 

“God’s Word says that we should be thankful for each other. Sarah, Ethan, remember that we talked about things we can be thankful for about each other? Well, this is a good time to remember those things. How does God want you to respond when your brother or sister is not pleasant? “

“That’s right, he wants you to return good for evil. Excellent! “ 

A middle-school child has a difficult schoolwork assignment.

Negative response: 

“You are still behind on this assignment aren’t you? If you had just listened to what I told you last week, you wouldn’t be behind now, would you? What did I tell you? Remember, God says you must be diligent. Well, I hope you learn from this, young man. If you don’t solve this problem now it will plague you for the rest of your life. This time, stay with it.”

Response that encourages excellence: 

“Hey – you still struggling with that assignment? Okay, why don’t you tell me what is hard for you about this assignment?” 

After the explanation: 

Let’s take another look at what is confusing you. But first, let’s ask God to help you with this. 

Okay, now, what does your teacher want you to accomplish with this assignment? Good, so you understand that part. Okay, tell me what steps are necessary to finish this project?  

Great! Write each one down and let me know when you have completed each step. If you get stuck on one of the steps, let me know and we will work through it.

I know this is not great fun, but remember that God planned for you to have this class just so you could learn to work through these issues. Hang in there! Thanks for working with me on this.”

By focusing on excellence, often the things that are negative will be addressed as well. Practically encouraging excellence brings hope for you and your children.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.