A boundary is set from a parent. Then, kids push back until they decide their going to win or lose.
But what if they came up with the boundary on their own? Seem impossible? Not really. Kids want to feel good about themselves and their behavior.
Is developing conscience in children worth it? Our job is to lead them in the direction of self-awareness–that place that reigns us in, pulls us back and makes us self-correct.
That’s where we can come in. Our influence is real. As their mothers, we can offer a path of discovering why and how they may have sinned. Why is this important? Because we ultimately want them to be asking themselves these questions on a daily basis.
What does this actually sound like?
For little kids, the conversation could start like this:
“What are you happy about that you did today?”
“What did you do today that made you sad?”
“What did you do today that made Mommy/Daddy sad?”
“What did you do today that may have made God sad?”
For older kids, it’s difficult. Their consciences are more discreet. Yes, they want to feel good about themselves, but they may have basically developed a bad habit.
You name it. From biting their fingernails, to talking back. They don’t particularly enjoy that part of themselves. They want to feel better….
And they don’t know how to stop.
Here’s a great (and yes, long) list of questions to help our kids along in this process. A few a day would be good to tackle. It would at least get them started in the right direction of examining their conscience.
Responsibilities to God:
- Have I prayed every day?
- Have I prayed my morning prayers and night prayers?
- Have I prayed with my parents and family?
- Have I been moody and rebellious about praying and going to church on Sunday?
- Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I have been tempted to sin?
- Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me do what is right?
Responsibilities to others:
- Have I been obedient and respectful to my parents?
- Have I lied or been deceitful to them or to others?
- Have I been arrogant, stubborn or rebellious?
- Have I talked back to parents, teachers or other adults?
- Have I pouted and been moody?
- Have I been selfish toward my parents, brothers, and sisters, teachers, or my friends and schoolmates?
- Have I gotten angry at them? Have I hit anyone?
- Have I held grudges or not forgiven others?
- Have I treated other children with respect or have I made fun of them and called them names?
- Have I used bad language?
- Have I stolen anything? Have I returned it?
- Have I performed my responsibilities, such as homework and household chores?
- Have I been helpful and affectionate toward my family?
- HaveI been kind and generous with my friends?
The most important question we can ask, however, is “What can I do as your mom to encourage you?”
Ultimately, what we all want for our kids is to have well developed consciences…
that listen to God’s lead…
that heeds the conviction in their hearts…
that asks for forgiveness
and that live in a state of grace.
What can we do to help kids develop their consciences?
How can we encourage them when they recognize a bad habit that they want to change?