While Kids Ministry is now having Sunday morning activities at the church, we understand that there are some families who are not able to join us in-person. We want to stay connected to our families and continue discipling all our kids, regardless of whether they are here at The Heights or at home.
Each week, those of you joining us online can watch Kids Ministry live on our FACEBOOK PAGE Sundays at 9:30 AM. During this Livestream, kids will have the opportunity to worship and listen to Bible lessons from our wonderful staff and volunteers. We will also continue to have our Bible Review Activities and GodTime Devotionals posted to our blog as well as the church app.
This week's blog post is about giving grace to your child. Read on for the eleventh post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Special Needs Coordinator, Katie Kenoyer.
Giving Grace to Your Child
Dr. Tim Kimmel, the author of Grace Based Parenting, spoke at a parenting conference, hosted by The Heights Church a couple of years ago. Throughout his book, Dr. Kimmel reminds us of the many ways to parent gracefully, and I would love to share with you some excerpts from this book.
Parenting with Grace
The most distinguishing part of the Christian faith is grace - a gift offered by God to undeserving people, that makes us fall in love with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Grace is what attracts us to Him and what confirms His love for us over and over. God's grace has the power to transform the most hardened soul into one overflowing with kindness. If this is the primary way our perfect Heavenly Father deals with us as humans, it should stand that grace is the best way to parent our own children.
Grace should affect how you handle discipline as well as how you process your child's fears and quirks. Grace keeps you from tearing down their spirits when they move through awkward transitions and adolescence. Parents should communicate nothing but acceptance for the unique characteristics and traits of their children. Showing your child grace this way will leave them with a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant, and a hope that is strong.
Grace Gives a Child Security
At the core of grace is LOVE - a love that stands strong regardless of our sin and comes to us free of charge.
"'Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed hi solve among us: He sent his one and only Son to the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and send his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11
We can pass this kind of love onto our children. A love that is steady, sure, and available to them whether we are or not. As parents, we can do something while they are under our roof that increases their capacity to move into their adult years. Children feel secure love when they know they are accepted for who they are, receive regular and generous affection, and they know they are a part of a loving and honoring family.
Grace Gives a Child Purpose
There is a deep longing in the heart of every child to "make a difference"; not only were we made in God's likeness, but we were also given a need to matter. We were created as works of art to be developed and embellished. Ultimately, it is the parent's great influence that makes a child who they grow up to be. Parents are the ones who invest most of the time, put up most of the money towards their interests, and the ones who donated (in most cases) the basic ingredients for their DNA. Our children were born with a need to find a purpose in life. So how can we build this purpose into our own children? There are three main ways:
- Regularly affirm them (Psalm 139:14)
- Give them your attention (Matthew 18:5-6)
- Gracefully discipline them (Hebrews 12:7, 9, & 11)
Grace Gives a Child Strong Hope
Hope is the human equivalent of oxygen when it comes to our ability to live effectively. Take it away, and everything else becomes irrelevant. In the process of raising our children, we can transfer confident hope into the deepest parts of their being. God has given us ways to enhance this need through the Bible.
- Recognize their God-given abilities and liabilities and turn them into assets for their future. "Train up a child in the way he should fo, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
- Lead them and encourage them to live a great spiritual adventure. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
- Help them turn their childhood into a series of positive accomplishments. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please the flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become wearily in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:7-9
A family that is filled with grace have homes where children are given the freedom to be different, vulnerable, candid, and have the freedom to make mistakes. If you get these four things going, parenting challenges find reasonable solutions. God has given us guidance over these wonderful opportunities to make a difference in our children's lives. It's called grace-based parenting.
I encourage you to grab this book and read it for yourselves. It will change how you parent your children! Here is a link to Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel:
Published on Oct 11 @ 1:08 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about disciplining your children. Read on for the tenth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Small Groups Coordinator, Jessica Widmer.
It is 5:00 and the kids have been home from school for the last two hours. Backpacks and tennis shoes are strewn across the living room, the small, crunched up remains of Goldfish and granola bars litter the floor, and screaming emanates from every corner of the house. I have officially lost control, and my children now run our home. We need some discipline, and we need it fast.
The word “discipline”, even as adults, elicits many different memories and invokes different responses. To some, it may be that overbearing parent providing constant correction, to others, it resonates an almost militaristic adherence to structures and behaviors, and to others still an unfair punishment. No matter where your own personal history places you on the discipline spectrum, it is the reality of parenthood that our children need discipline.
Now, what can the Bible teach us about discipline and how to raise our children?
Discipline must come from a place of love.
Think of hugging your child. In that moment, what do they think and feel? They feel enveloped by a sense of security and care. Discipline should be no different. Our children should sense that we have put a protective barrier around them and are redirecting them to ensure their own security. Proverbs 13:24 states, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”
The Bible is our go-to reference tool for guidance and discipline
Whether you are disciplining your child for disobeying, talking back to you, fighting with their siblings, or any of the other trying situations we find ourselves needing to address as parents, God has provided with us a guidebook, His Word, to help us address these challenges. The Bible should be our go-to reference on how to instruct, grow, and lead our kids. Through discipline, we can provide our children with a framework for evaluating and making decisions according to God’s will. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul reminds us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Discipline is corrective and necessary
Consequences are never fun but are necessary for helping a child learn and grow. We see many examples throughout the Bible where God uses discipline to correct His people. Take for instance His dealings with Israel. God provided for His children, guided them, reasoned with them, and punished them. While some punishments were rather harsh, His punishments were never out of spite or vengeance. God punished Israel to lead them to repentance. He does the same for us: “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child” Hebrews 12:6. Without correction, our children’s behavior can lead to a life of sin and separation from God. Certainly not the life we would want for our children!
Discipline requires obedience and consistency
Almost always, when the wheels have fallen off, I feel I’ve lost all control of my children, and I find myself asking “Who’s in control here, my child or me?”, it’s usually because I haven’t been consistent in disciplining. I have not made active parenting a priority and have ignored, excused, or justified poor attitudes and behavior. Disciplining takes obedience on the part of the child AND parent. Disciplining is neither fun nor easy. Given that no one likes to be the “bad guy”, being obedient and consistent with your discipline is key.
If we want to bring order to the chaos, peace to the conflict, and respect to the relationships within our homes, we need not look any farther than God’s design for discipline and parenting. Instilling in our children a sincere fear and honor of the Lord paves the way that leads to salvation and harmony. It is up to us as parents to take the first steps down that path.
As parents, sit down this week and decide what rules will take priority in your home. Spend some time as a family looking up what the Bible says about each of your family rules and display them prominently in your home. Discuss the consequences of being disobedient with your children and be consistent with your discipline as situations arise. Proverbs 22 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Published on Oct 4 @ 1:55 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about facing rejection. Read on the ninth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Pastor, Nadine Joubert.
Parent Equipping Blog- Helping Kids Deal with Rejection
The pain of rejection
We all face rejection at some point in life. It is just part of living in a fallen world. One of the consequences of the fall is that we have become alienated from God and one another (Genesis 3:7-8). Fear and insecurity (Genesis 3:10) make us hide from each other and reject each other.
Rejection takes many forms: not getting the job or promotion you have been longing for, a parent whose approval you desire, but instead, you are constantly met with criticism, a friend who betrays you by gossiping behind your back. The sad reality is that our kids face rejection too: their classmates exclude them from a game during recess, all their friends get an invitation to a birthday party except them, a bully is posting mean things about your child on social media.
Jesus himself suffered rejection; He was rejected by his own family. In John 7:5, we can read: “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” Luke narrates how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth. (Luke 4:14-30). The Jewish community, his own people, did not accept him: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11). Jesus suffered betrayal from his friend Peter, who claimed to love him. “Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times” (John 13:37-38). And we all know that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and fulfilled the Scripture: “The one who shares My bread has lifted up his heel against Me” (John 13:18).
Jesus has felt the heartache of rejection. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He knows the profound pain that rejection can cause. The problem is that if we do not deal with the pain caused by rejection, the wounds don’t heal properly. It can alter the way a child sees him or herself, others, and God, and create anxiety about certain situations.
So, how can we help kids deal with rejection in the light of the Gospel? How can we help them heal, learn, and grow from these experiences?
Dealing with Rejection in light of the Gospel
1.) Rejection is an opportunity to teach kids about their identity in Christ
When kids experience rejection, it is an opportunity to point them to who we are in Christ. God has provided the wonderful gift of salvation in His Son Jesus Christ, because of His love for us (John 3:16). As a recipient of this gift through faith in Christ, (Eph 2:8-9) we are united to Jesus Christ and receive a new identity. Every believer in Christ Jesus is:
- A child of God (John 1:12; Eph 1:5; 1 John 3:1);
- A recipient of grace (Eph 1:4);
- Redeemed (Rom 3:24);
- Not condemned (Rom 8:1);
- Forgiven (Eph 4:23; Col 2:13-14);
- Has the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21);
- Chosen, loved, and holy (Col 3:12);
- God’s masterpiece (Eph 2:10);
- Part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9);
- At peace with God (Rom 5:1);
- God is always with us (Matt 28:20; Hebrews 13:5);
- Accepted in Christ (Rom 15:7);
- Complete in Christ (Col 2:9-20);
- Can never be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39).
- Has eternal life (Rom 6:23).
And these are just a select few of all the spiritual blessings of heaven we have in Christ (Eph 1:3). This helps kids understand that rejection does not define them. Only God has the right to tell us who we are.
2.) Lessons from rejection
Kids might wonder why God would permit them to experience rejection. You can encourage your children by reminding them that God has the ability to make something good come out of something bad. He uses difficulties: 1) to teach us to rely on Him rather than on ourselves (Philippians 3:7-10), 2) to teach us obedience through discipline (Psalm 119:71), 3) to teach us perseverance and to build the character of Christ in us (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4), 4) to give us instruction in who God is (Psalm 94:12; Hebrews 12:6-11), and 5) to teach us to follow Jesus’ example in suffering (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
Rejection can also teach your kids empathy. Having experienced how it feels not to be wanted can help your kids show kindness to others when it is their turn to accept another child into their circle of friends. It can encourage them to obey the Lord’s instruction in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Start a conversation with your kids this week about rejection. Have they ever experienced it? How did it make them feel? Let them know that you are here for them whenever they want to talk. If they are walking through a situation where they’ve experienced rejection, point them to Jesus and teach them how to deal with rejection in light of the Gospel. You can partner with God and help them grow through this experience of suffering.
Published on Sep 27 @ 1:12 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about praying for your kids. Read on the eighth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Associate Kids Pastor, Blake Hooten.
Parent Equipping Blog- Praying for Your Kids
When it comes to praying for your children, kids may be the best example to follow. Your kids, especially if you have younger kids, probably tell you about everything that is going on in their lives. They tell you when they are happy, and they tell you when they are upset. They tell you what their fears are and what their needs are. They come to you with complete confidence that you are there for them, that you love them, and that you can take care of their problems. When it comes to prayer, Jesus taught us that we should communicate with God as a child communicates with a loving parent.
How to Pray
- Pray Boldly
Your children probably ask you for a thousand things a day. Children ask questions at all hours and all times of the day knowing that you are the person that they can depend on. Jesus taught us that we should approach prayer in the same way.
In Luke 11:5-6, just after Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s prayer, Jesus shared the parable of the friend at midnight. The friend approaches the house of another long after it was polite to do so to ask his friend for some loaves of bread. This would be just as rude then as it would be now, but this is also how Jesus said we should approach prayer.
Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray boldly. As a parent, your prayers for your kids do not have to sound like eloquent prayers you hear at church. You do not need to add flowery language to make God happy. Instead, when you pray for your children, your requests should be as bold and as straightforward as your child coming into your room at midnight to ask you for a glass of water.
- Pray Persistently
There has probably been a time where your child wanted something so bad that they asked you for it over and over and over and over again until you finally broke down and gave them what they wanted. Times like this can be a pain in your life, but once again this is how Jesus instructs us to pray.
In Luke 18:1-8, when once again teaching his disciples about prayer, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow. The widow was able to make an unrighteous judge give her justice merely by coming to him every single day with the same request. Eventually, the judge was so worn down that he gave the widow what she wanted just so he could have some peace and quiet.
If an unrighteous judge who did not care for the widow can be moved by persistence, how much more will your Father in heaven—who loves you and wants what is best for you—be moved by persistent prayers?! There will be times when your prayer requests for your children seem like they are not being answered. In addition, your children will need prayer no matter how old they grow. In both cases, Jesus encourages you to pray with all the persistence your children have when they ceaselessly beg you for something they really want!
- Pray Expectantly
When your child comes to you with a request, your natural reaction is to do the best you can to make your child happy. You may not give them everything they request for various reasons because you have the overall well-being of your child and family in mind, but there is still an underlying desire to make your child happy.
Jesus says the same is true of our heavenly Father. In Luke chapter 11, verses 9-13, Jesus mentions that our Father loves to give good gifts to His children. God wants to answer your prayers and wants you to be fully expectant that He will answer your prayers.
However, just like when you answer your children’s requests, the answer may not always be yes, or may not always come the way you want it. God seeks what is best for us and will give us what is best. In the meantime, it is your job to pray good prayers for your children with the same expectation that God will answer them as your children have the same expectation when they request something from you.
Set aside a time each day to pray for your children. Pray boldly, pray persistently, and pray expectantly. Let the Lord know everything that is in your heart for your children. Share your fears and your hopes and lay them all at the Lord’s feet. If you do not know what else to say pray that the words of Luke 2:52 will come true in the lives of your children. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
For those of you who are interested in a monthly scripture prayer calendar for your kids, please click HERE to find a calendar created by Richard Ross, Professor of Student Ministry at Southwestern Seminary.
Published on Sep 20 @ 1:15 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about blessing your child. Read on the seventh post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Special Needs Coordinator, Katie Kenoyer.
Blessing your child
One of the great joys of being a parent is that we have a front-row seat to know and love another person from the moment we hold them in our arms. You, as their parents, can influence your child to become who God created them to be by pouring blessings over them throughout their life.
I recently read a great book titled The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance by John Trent and Gary Smalley. I took detailed notes which I will highlight throughout this blog, and I recommend every parent read it!
First, let's talk about what it means to give a blessing to your child. To bless someone actually means “to speak well of.” When you verbally affirm and praise your children for who they are, you are encouraging and inspiring them toward their future success.
From the beginning of time, God has been blessing his children. He started with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28) and continued with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 12:1-3). In these verses and many more throughout the Bible, God has set up a clear pattern of his blessings on His people:
- He physically touched them
- He verbally affirmed them
- He valued them
- He painted a vivid picture of their expected future
- He invested Himself and His resources to make His words a reality.
Let’s learn how we can use these 5 elements to bless our own children.
Kissing, hugging, or the laying of hands on a person were all a part of giving a blessing throughout the Bible. Jesus was a great example of giving blessings by touch. Whether it was washing someone’s feet or laying hands on a child, he was the master of communicating love in this way. (Luke 2:28; Mark 10:16). For children, these things become real when they are touched. A simple act of touch can communicate warmth, personal acceptance, and affirmation.
A blessing fulfills its purpose only when it’s spoken or written. After Jesus was baptized, a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). Jacob gave a verbal blessing to each of his twelve sons and to two of his grandchildren. When God blessed us with the gift of his Son, it was his Word that “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). We too can give our children the verbal confirmation they need and yearn for.
In blessing Jacob, (thinking it was Esau), Isaac said, “Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed. … Let people serve you, and nations bow down to you” (Gen. 27:27, 29). A blessed field was one where there was tremendous growth and life and reward. That’s the picture Isaac gives his son, that he was of HIGH value.
Just like Jacob, your blessing should tell your child of their incredible worth even as imperfect as they may be. Tell them the things in their life that make them special, useful, and of great value to you.
Picturing a Special Future
Communicating your child’s future in their blessing is so important. Children begin to take positive steps towards their future when they hear things like: “God has given you such a sensitive heart. I wouldn’t be surprised if you help so many people when you get older.” Or “You are such a good helper. When you marry someday, I know you're going to be a great help to your family.” Feeling and believing that their future is hopeful is something they can look forward to and it can greatly affect their attitude on life.
An Active Commitment
God himself has stood behind the blessings He’s bestowed on his children, which gave them certainty and security. In the book The Blessing, John Trent says these are the four steps to staying committed:
- We can ask the Lord to confirm the blessing.
- We can dedicate our time, energy, and resources to caring for our children.
- We can provide appropriate discipline with praise and correction that aligns with God’s commandments.
- We can take initiative in asking questions to get to know them better.
By giving your child a blessing, you are intentionally watering the seeds God has already planted. God’s blessings urged His people forward, renewed their confidence, and prepared the ground beneath their feet and we as parents can do the same.
Tonight, before you go to bed, read out loud the following blessing over your children, and then sometime later this week, write your own blessing over each of your children. Memorize it, recite it, and speak it over and over.
‘May The LORD bless you, and keep you; May the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn his face towards you, and give you peace.’ (Numbers 6:24-26).
Published on Sep 6 @ 1:58 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about family communication. Read on the sixth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Ministry Assistant, Jordan Kiefer.
Good communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is crucial for any family but good communication also takes a lot of work and seeks to put others' needs first. If you do not pay attention to the loved one who is talking to you, communication becomes vague and unclear. When communication is poor, bad feelings boil over, misunderstandings happen, and relational problems arise. It is important that every person in the family is heard, respected, and of course, loved. When communication is good, strong bonds are established between all the family members, everyone is more capable of problem-solving, and there is a healthy atmosphere in your home. Good communication is worth the effort and here are some tips for how to establish good, family communication.
Our lives are full of busy schedules: there is homework to be completed, household chores to be done, extra-curricular activities to attend, meals to cook, and many other tasks and activities. Take every opportunity to communicate. Turn the radio down while in the car and talk on the way to church, school, or even when you are out running errands. When everyone is at the dinner table, turn off/put away distractions and have each person tell the family about their day, both the good and bad moments. Use any opportunity to share thoughts, memories, and feelings with each other. Being available means being there for your loved ones and helping them out when they need it. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Be a Good Listener
Listening is the key to establishing good communication skills. Verbal communication makes up around 10% of what we communicate while non-verbal accounts for 90%. Examples of non-verbal communication include facial expressions, postures, body orientation, tone of voice, and body language. Watch their body language and facial expressions in addition to what they are saying. This lets your child know that you respect and value what they have to say. As a result, he or she realizes they can come to you anytime they want to talk. If you have any questions or might be confused about something, do not hesitate to ask, or have the person clarify what they said. Share your thoughts and feelings too; communication goes both ways. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
Be a Good Role Model
Children observe the world around them and model their behaviors after the most important people in their lives. If you and your spouse disrespect one another or partially engage in conversation and quality time together, you are training your children to do the same thing. Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Positive reinforcement is also key. Constructive criticism is important to a child’s growth and development, but praise is good for their mood and self-esteem. Praise your children’s positive choices and actions. This can be as simple as saying something like, “I really appreciate that you said that to me” or “That was very thoughtful”.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Be truthful and honest and how you are thinking and feeling.
- Be sure to let the child know that when you are angry or upset, it is because of their behavior, not the child himself.
- Raise your voice loud or threaten. This will make the child uneasy and afraid to come to you in the future.
- Hurt their feelings – they came to you because they felt comfortable talking to you and they respect you.
If you are interested in listening to a podcast about this subject, I would recommend “Speaking the Truth in Love” (Eph 4:15): Improving Family Communication by Ancient Faith Ministries.
For this week’s challenge, spend some one-on-one time with each of your children. Even as little as 10-15 minutes a day can make a huge difference in the relationship between parent and child. During this time, it is important to give the child your undivided attention. There should be no distractions, electronics, or underlying worries on your mind while you have a deep conversation with your loved one. Listen to what they are saying and how they are feeling. Show understanding and empathy to whatever your child brings to the discussion. This will be invaluable in making them feel loved, respected, and heard. Before you leave this one-on-one time, pray to God, thanking Him for your child and his/her gifts, and submit any worries or concerns to Him.
If you have any specific needs or prayer requests, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]
Published on Aug 30 @ 1:05 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about how to guide your kids in using technology. Read on the fifth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Kids Ministry Assistant, Jordan Kiefer.
As a parent, it can feel like walking through a minefield trying to navigate the digital world. Every day, your child is bombarded with digital content on the TV, computer/laptop, tablet, phone, etc. Below are some tips and tricks you can implement to help guide your children in using technology well.
- Stress the importance of never giving out personal information online. This includes his or her name, address, phone number, family names and relations, email address, passwords, and any other piece of information that can be used to identify the child. Protecting information helps secure many parts of your personal life.
- Walk them through what to do if they come across an inappropriate website or content. Be calm and collected when setting the rules for your child when internet browsing. This lets the child know that they can trust and come to you if they come across something that upsets or confuses them. Teach them to close the screen and come talk to you. You can then use the situation as a teaching moment.
- Have a web security system in place. You can limit the possibility of exposure to inappropriate content by setting up parental controls and filters on your computers, TVs, phones, and tablets. To limit what could pop up when they search something, switch on YouTube Restricted Mode and Google SafeSearch.
It is crucial to remember that children will copy what their parents do. Examine the amount of time and energy you spend online and make sure that it does not distract from the most important parts of your life: your relationship with God and your family. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to live in a way that honors God and loves those around us. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything.’ “
Access is Limited
While technology is an integral part of your child’s life, it should not be all-consuming. Too much technology usage can lead to laziness, isolation, and passivity. To avoid your child getting into bad habits that will be hard to break, follow these tips.
- Be in the “Know”: Technology is ever-changing and evolving. As such, parents need to stay informed of what is out there (and popular) so they can know what is safe and what is not. Ask questions when your child talks about new technology, “Google It”, and communicate with other parents. Do your very best to learn all you can about the technology your child is exposed to and using.
- Limitations are key: By setting limits on your child’s daily screen time, you are helping establish order and balance while allowing you to monitor and offer guidance when needed. Decide how often you want technology to be used in your home and how you manage that time. Not only does this help them make decisions responsibly, but it also helps stimulate creativity and imagination when they are not immersed in the digital world.
- Implement a time during the week where there are no electronics. Pick a day that works best for your family and avoid technology use as much as possible. Spend this time reading Scripture together, singing worship songs, playing games, and simply spending precious time together.
God made humans to be social; we grow, develop, flourish, and thrive when we connect and interact with other people. However, we live in a digital age and technology IS a part of our lives. When used properly, technology is fun and engaging. The most important thing you want to teach your kids is how to use technology in a safe and healthy way, all the while developing in them the necessary habits that they will use for the rest of their lives. Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.”
Great Websites for Online Safety and Technology Use:
- Common Sense Media – where you can find reviews on tv shows, movies, games, apps, and Web sites to see if they fit your child.
- ConnectSafely.org – an online forum and blog where parents and experts discuss anything and everything pertaining to Internet safety.
- StaySafeOnline.org – an online tool full of helpful articles, tip sheets, and resources to help
Great Books to Read:
- The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch
- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne & Lisa M. Ross
This week think about how much time and energy your children, and you, spend on electronics. Once you have done that, set aside a time, if you haven’t already, where the whole family spends quality time together without any electronics. You can take a walk together, play a board game, or do a puzzle. Take this time to memorize and pray over this bible verse: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34. Pray to our Heavenly Father to help you and your family keep your focus and your hearts on the kingdom of God.
If you have any specific needs or prayer requests, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]
Published on Aug 23 @ 1:50 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about how to help your kids deal with anxiety. Read on the fourth post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Small Groups Coordinator, Jessica Widmer.
Does the start of the school year look different than it did last year? Maybe you are at a brand new school this year; maybe just changed schools and your child doesn’t know anyone in their class yet, or maybe, you, like a lot of other families, are starting school from home this year. When you think about it, any of those things may make your child nervous or worried. Or there could be many other things that might be worrying your child. Anxiety in children is quite common! The good news is that God says we don’t have to feel that way. When faced with worry, the Apostle Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillippians 4:6-8). Isn’t that awesome that God promises us that He hears us and gives us peace when we’re scared and worried?!
Sometimes, easing your child’s fears will be as easy as a quick prayer and positive reassurance from mom or dad. However, sometimes it takes a little more. Keep reading for more tips and tricks on easing anxiety in children.
Deep Breathing Exercises
When we are anxious or worried, our bodies go into fight or flight mode. We think we are in danger when really we are not. Our bodies are physically affected. You might notice your breathing becomes faster and more shallow, your muscles tense up, and your heart rate increases. When this happens, less oxygen is getting to your brain, making it difficult to think clearly.
Taking deep breaths brings oxygen back to your brain and helps your body reduce stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and improves focus and concentration! What great benefits to what seems like such a simple task!
There are lots of fun ways to promote deep breathing for kids. You can use bubbles, feathers, or pinwheels to practice deep breathing. There are also several techniques you can use with your child that will make deep breathing easy and fun.
1. Belly Breathing
Calm breathing involves taking slow and controlled breaths, called “belly breathing”.
- Inhale slowly for 4 seconds through the nose.
- Ask your child to pretend they are blowing up a balloon inside their belly. They should be able to feel their belly inflate.
- Pause for 2 seconds, and then slowly exhale through the mouth.
- Ask your child to pretend that he or she is emptying the balloon of air, they should feel their belly deflate.
- Pause for 2 seconds, and then repeat.
2. Square Breathing
Trace the shape with your finger as you breathe.
- Trace the edge of the square and slowly count, 1, 2, 3, 4
- On the exhale trace the other side of the square, exhale 1, 2, 3, 4
- Repeat on for the next half of the square.
3. Shoulder Roll Breathing
Using yoga poses as you breathe.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose and relax your entire body.
- Now roll your shoulders up to your ears as you inhale deeply for a count of 3.
- Breathe out through your mouth and roll your shoulders down and back (as far away from your ears as you can get) as you exhale for a count of 4.
- Repeat slowly in a continuous movement of shoulder rolls, while breathing in and out.
Create a Calm Down Safe Space
A calm down area is a safe space for kids to go when they need help self-regulating or calming their bodies and emotions. It is meant to be a place for them to relax, recharge, or even release their pent-up anger or frustration.
- Find a quiet spot in your house and make it cozy. This would be a fun task your child can help with - they can place a favorite blanket, pillow, or stuffed animal in their safe space.
- Add calming tools like items that will distract your child and help them calm down. Some of our favorites are:
- Coloring pages and colored pencils
- Silly putty
- Stress balls to squeeze
- Joke books
- Activity books (word searches, crosswords, sudoku, mazes)
- Fidget toys
- A calm-down bottle
- Photos of family members or other images that might be calming like a favorite vacation spot.
- Journal and pens.
- Favorite Bible verses
- Explain and practice how to use the space beforehand.
- Give a calm reminder if you notice your child starts to escalate. It’s always best to try and catch a situation early.
Set Up a Worry Time
When you think about your worries a lot, or talk about them over and over, you are only helping your worries grow. If you don’t spend time on them, they will eventually begin to go away. But to say “just stop worrying” is a lot easier said than done! Instead, set aside a dedicated Worry Time to help control the amount of attention you give your worries.
- A parent can set up a certain time each day for Worry Time for their child.
- Time should last about 15 minutes.
- During this time, your child can share with you whatever they are thinking or worrying about.
- There should be no interruptions like TV, phone calls, or other siblings.
- During this time, parents should listen and try to help work through their child’s specific worries with them.
- This is a great time to pray with your child, asking God to take these worries and calm your child’s fears. Remind your child that God is BIGGER than any of our worries!
- The most important rule about Worry Time is there is NO thinking or talking about worries unless its worry time! If a worry comes up and it’s not Worry Time, it’s important to coach your child into “putting those thoughts away” until Worry Time. That might look like mentally locking it away and getting busy with something else. Or, your child can write down their worry and place it in a Worry Jar that can only be opened during Worry Time.
- This might be a very challenging task at first! Your child might need lots of reminders. But after a while, you will find that by the time you get to Worry Time, some of the worries will have gone away on their own!! Over time, you might even find there are no worries to be discussed at all!!!
Write in a Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is for thankful thoughts, ideas, reminders of God’s faithful promises, or blessings from the day. Having your child write down positive thoughts and reminders of God’s faithfulness will help redirect their thoughts from worry to gratefulness.
- Purchase a gratitude journal or a journal/notebook you already have at home will work just as well.
- Let your child decorate their journal to make it personal and their own.
- Each day have your child write down three things they are thankful for - a family, a favorite teacher, your pet, starting a good book.
- Entries can be big things in life or just simple joys.
- Do it daily and make it a habit.
- Pray and thank God for His faithfulness and blessings!
Books to Read with Your Child
- Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook
- David and the Worry Beast by Anne Marie Guanci
- What To Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner, PhD
- What To Do When You’re Scared and Worried by James J. Crist
- Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes
Remember that being anxious or nervous about things is natural for both children and adults. As you work with your child through their worries, don’t be afraid to try different things. There is no “one size fits all” approach to guiding your child through this, and it may take a little bit of trial-and-error to get it right and find out what works best for them.
For this week’s challenge, if you haven’t already, I challenge you to start a Gratitude Journal with your family. You can do this as a family or individually. Carve out time each day to focus on positive things God is doing in your life. I also encourage you to share with your child a time you have felt anxious or worried and how God helped you through it. Your child will see that God is always there with us, in good times and bad.
Published on Aug 16 @ 1:21 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about how to prepare your kids for the new school year. Read on the third post of our Parent Equipping Blog from our Special Needs Coordinator, Katie Kenoyer.
As school is about to start, you have found that learning environments are changing everywhere. Some of you will be dropping your kids off to a school, that will look different this year than in the past. Others have decided to start the year off with E-learning or have made a commitment to Homeschooling. Whatever you decide, know that God does NOT change, and he is always here for you.
Below are some tips to preparing you and your child for the school year, no matter what that may look like.
Your Kids will be returning to On-Campus School
Whether this was a hard decision to make, or came easy to you, you made the choice that was best for your family, so Way to Go! Here are some tips for preparing your child for that first day back at school:
- Talk about everything- Kids at school will talk. As parents, we should talk to our kids first. *Offer a clear and age appropriate explanation of what has happened in the recent months. Here are some great resources about Coronavirus for all age groups.
*Keeping a positive attitude when discussing the changes and new rules their school will have will help them feel comfortable and safe when they return. From lunchroom dividers to face shields, to new teachers and emergency protocols.
- Let them talk- It is most likely that your child is nervous or even thrilled to be returning back to school. Give them an open outlet to communicate their feelings before the first day. Praying and reading scripture is a great way to express worry, fear, and even thanksgiving.
3. Shop for school supplies together. They will get excited when they get to pick out a new backpack and school clothes. Allowing them to pick out their own supplies will make them feel special, as well as give them a bit of normalcy and responsibility!
4. Get back to a routine. Begin your usual school sleep schedule about a week or so before school starts! This will eliminate stressful mornings and prepare them for days ahead. You can even have practice days, like planning some outdoor activities for during school hours so they can practice getting up, dressed, and out the door on time. Once you get home, turn off electronics and encourage reading, create art, or quiet play!
5. Make an after-school game plan and prepare for the unexpected. Set up a homework station that will be quiet, comfortable, and away from distractions. Also, make a game plan for those unexpected days so you and your child are prepared, whether it’s an extra-long workday or sudden changes within the school or our city. It would even be a great idea to have a sitter lined up for these cases or an after-school care facility.
Your kids will be E-learning or Homeschooled
You have decided to keep your kids home for the first 6 weeks. Or maybe you have chosen to homeschool all year. Whatever is best for your family is the right decision. Here are some tips for preparing you and your child for that first day of school from home.
- Create a school environment. No need to recreate a school classroom with all the bells and whistles. This can be more challenging, but finding a quiet and comfortable area where distractions are at a minimum is key.
- Build a break in the day. E-learning can require long hours so planning several breaks throughout the school time will be very helpful. These can be snack breaks, dance breaks, or time with God. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
- Create a schedule and routine. Having schedules placed around the house will develop habit and routine. Here is an example of a schedule you could use.
4. Take it outdoors- Play and exercise will be HUGE to having a great school day. You can take a walk outside, go for a bike ride, or even do your schoolwork at the park.
5. Make learning FUN! Check out the image below for some great ideas.
All parents: Be kind to yourself
Most of all parents, no matter what this school year will look like for your family: Be kind to yourself. You have got this! There will be days that are harder than others, but give yourself GRACE. It may take time for your kids to get in a groove, but remember to lean on the Lord for guidance and peace and they’ll do GREAT!
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in The LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding, Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
In the days ahead, take time in the mornings right when you wake up and thank God for your children and the opportunity for them to learn no matter what that may look like. Pray and ask for guidance as you navigate and plan for the school year.
Reach out to us at [email protected] and tell us specifically how we can pray for your new school situation.
Published on Aug 9 @ 1:11 PM CDT
This week's blog post is about a parent's call to disciple and all that entails. Read on for the second post of our Parent Equipping blog from our Kids Associate Pastor, Blake Hooten.
Practical Ways to Answer the Call
Yes, we say this at church all the time, but we cannot overemphasize the importance of prayer. You can follow all the right steps, do all the right things, teach all the right lessons, plan the most creative and fun family discipleship times, but if you don't pray, you deprive yourself of the greatest source of power to help you disciple your children. Jesus himself was constantly praying in his ministry and at one point in time, He even taught His disciples that some things are impossible apart from prayer (Mark 9:29).
Furthermore, pray every day. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He told them to say "give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11). Prayer for your children should be brought before the Father daily. As you are praying daily, also pray persistently. In Luke 18, Jesus taught his disciples to pray and never give up. When things are rough and you feel overwhelmed, pray, keep praying, pray until you think you can't pray anymore, and then keep praying.
Jesus invited his disciples to follow Him. He invited them to come and see and to imitate what He did. Just as Jesus disciples imitated the faith of Jesus, your children will imitate your faith. If you want to be an effective disciple maker for your children, you need to first be a disciple, and you need to let your children SEE you being a disciple.
Let your children know that spending time in God’s word is a daily priority to you. Share with them when you see God working in your life. Pray with them. Let them know that giving your time, talent, and treasures to God is important to you. Make worshipping God with other believers a priority in your life, and let them see that you are passionate about worship. Let them see you serve and love others on a continual basis. Don’t keep your faith private from your kids. When they see your faith in action, they will be inspired to have the same faith.
If you are new to the faith, just not sure how to live out the life of a disciple, or have never been discipled before; Let us know. There are plenty of ministers here at the church who would be overjoyed at the opportunity to disciple you and to help you grow in your faith so you can help your children grow in their faith.
3. Be Intentional
Often, being a disciple maker seems like a daunting task because we think of discipleship as sitting down and all studying the Bible in an organized matter. It seems like a lot of work to prepare lessons, you may not feel like you know enough about the Bible to make the lesson, and, if we are honest, it can feel really awkward to lead these times at home where there are a million reactions. When discipling is viewed like this, sending your kids to church and letting their small group leaders handle all the preparation and teaching begins to look like a very good deal.
However, this is not the way the Bible instructs parents to disciple their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 states “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up”. Taking the time to disciple your kids does not mean you have to prepare a thirty minute Bible study for your family to participate in each week. Instead, discipleship should happen all the time.
You can sing worship songs in the car as you travel from place to place. When you see someone in need, you and your child can care for that person and you can teach them why helping is important in the process. You can teach about humility and loving your neighbor while having a family game night. When they break a rule, you can teach about forgiveness, mercy, and grace. If you are intentional with your time, there will be many opportunities throughout the day that can be turned into mini discipleship lessons.
If you are interested in learning more about how to be a disciple maker at home, I would recommend Parenting with a Kingdom Purpose by Ken Hemphill and Richard Ross
The KIDS at the Heights team wants to provide as many family discipleship opportunities for you and your kids as we can, and for the month of August we are going to have a School Supply Drive. Serve others by collecting the school supplies found on The Heights EVENT PAGE and drop them off at the church every Wednesday from 10am-2pm in the month of August. Don’t forget to be intentional and use this opportunity to share why you are taking the time to help others!
Published on Aug 2 @ 1:36 PM CDT