Do you ever worry whether everything you say is sticking with your child? Are you concerned about how they see the world?
Do you want to know your child’s heart?
Of course! You are a mother, and parents worry about their children.
If you want to know your child’s heart is in the right place, surround your child with positive, virtuous influences!
Think of your child as a sponge
I am sure you have heard the phrase “kids are like sponges”. We often hear this about young children.
For example, young children are like sponges so if we expose them to different languages they will learn them easier than in adulthood. Or, “watch out, that child is a sponge and will repeat everything you say”.
Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Some things do get more difficult to learn as we age.
But, fortunately, it is never too late to teach children or adults about what is right and good. And, it will help you to know your child’s heart.
A quick lesson on sponges –
What happens when you take a dry, compact sponge and put it in a sink of clean water? It immediately begins soaking up the liquid and expands. It is then like new again, and ready to be used for good.
But, what happens if we put the sponge in a bucket of dirty water? It will still soak up as much as it can hold.
As parents, we need to be sure we are exposing our kids to plenty of good, clean “liquid”!
How do we do that?
Choose the best music
There are throngs of stations for you and your kids to choose from in the car and at home. That also means it is hard to screen what your child may be exposed to through that music.
Kids don’t even realize they are listening to the words. They also don’t realize what they hear is affecting them, but it is. So, even if they complain, I say turn it up!
And, playing encouraging and loving music, with a positive message, helps me feel I am replacing at least one negative influence. It helps you, at least a little, to know your child’s heart.
Screen the TV/Internet
Television can be a scary place. Just like the internet, it is a vast playground for kids to explore all types of entertainment.
Many families have movie and music video channels that invite all types of inappropriate content into your home. Luckily, most of these come with ratings so parents can determine what they will allow.
Parents need to be sure to set up parameters for safeguarding against adult content on their television, computers and electronic devices.
But also, be cautious of “family friendly” content.
My younger kids like Fuller House. This is a cute show, and I remember watching Full House as a child and it seemed okay.
So I thought!
I was sitting on the sofa one evening watching tv with my 13-year old son, and my 9-year old daughter.
I don’t remember what we were watching, but in the show, the boy had a birthmark on his neck. My son asked what that mark was, and my daughter replied, “it’s a hickey”.
After a moment of surprise, I told them it was a birthmark and asked where she had heard that word. She said on Fuller House DJ got a hickey from her boyfriend.
Why do they have to ruin a family show by including that?
Watch tv with your kids
It helps you determine whether it is appropriate, and be fully aware of what they are seeing and hearing.
Try watching shows you can truly enjoy together as a family. Here are my suggestions:
Talk about the shows you are watching
Have you ever watched older shows like Brady Bunch or Little House on the Prarie with your kids? If not, I strongly recommend you do.
These shows bring up conversations about family values, race, women’s rights, and education, to name just a few.
My kids were shocked to see one father spank several kids in the neighborhood on Little House on the Prarie. That certainly wouldn’t fly today!
Actually, Korie Robertson discusses this matter in her book, Strong and Kind: Raising Kids of Character. There are a lot of good parenting takeaways in this book. (You can click on the link or image to purchase the book using my affiliate link. This means you pay the same price, but I get a small percentage from the company).
Again, tv is not all bad. Just watch tv with your kids so you can have time to discuss any issues that arise. This also helps you to know your child’s heart.
This also gives you time to just be together. We need to treasure those moments!
Set rules for technology and stick with them
The internet is a scary place. Once your children see images you cannot remove them from their minds. Innocence can be so quickly stained with images of sex and violence. (Not to mention, the safety concerns).
I strongly recommend kids use technology in the room with adults until the age of at least 10. But, no matter where they use their technology, put on safety parameters to help keep negative influences at bay.
And, just because you block YouTube or other media, don’t think your kids can’t find a way around it. Keeping your kids close is the best bet!
Encourage them to find likeminded friends
Although I want my children to be kind to everyone, I want them to surround themselves with strong, kind, like-minded kids. If they all have the same value system they are more likely to support each other.
If you know your child’s heart is anchored in the right ways, you can feel more confident in knowing she will choose the right path.
Only then would I want her to connect with other kids who need a good, friendly influence. Don’t get me wrong. I always want my children to be kind to others. But, if my daughter isn’t strong enough in her own value system, she will not be able to support others who have different values.
If your child does not have a strong group of friends that have similar values, I recommend you start with boy scouts, girls scouts, church programs (Awana is one that is fun and focuses on learning and living scripture), or Young Life.
Let them hear uplifting and empowering words
It is so important to model appropriate kindness, compassion, and respect when we talk to our children. This is not always easy when they may be driving you up a wall!
There are two main places my words affect my children: in the car and in the home.
In the home –
Try to think of the way your words affect your children. You can inspire, empower or uplift your children by what you say.
Or, you can weaken their self-esteem, belittle them, and teach them to be harsh and judgmental with others.
Choose the first!
Do all you can to guide your children, build them up, and let them hear your unconditional love. My article 13 Ways Your Words Can Help Your Kids offers suggestions and easy applications for rethinking the way you speak to your children. The way you speak to them will help you know your child’s heart.
In the car –
I don’t know what it is about my kids and the car. Do your kids start bickering as soon as they get in? They can be fine at home but the second we get in the car the bickering begins!
Limit arguing by turning on the radio.
But, be cautious. So much of today’s music contains messages about sex, drugs, body-image, or materialism. If my radio isn’t set to the positive messages of Christian music, then it is on talk radio.
(This is actually quite funny. When I was younger, my parents would drive me crazy with talk radio. I mean, what 10-year old wants to listen to Rush Limbaugh?)
But, I choose to listen to uplifting messages in the car.
When we bought our car it came with a trial of Sirius Radio. I often listen to Joel Osteen.
I love his messages and how he gives direct guidance to how scriptures should affect your daily living. Sometimes I put it on and forget the kids are even in the car (for a couple of minutes, anyway).
But, I have noticed occasionally my kids will ask me something about what he is saying. They are listening! Maybe not all the time, but they get some of the positive messages.
Every little bit helps.
Back to that sponge –
It is so easy to worry about our kids. But it isn’t healthy for you, and it really doesn’t help them.
You don’t have to wonder what your kids are like when you aren’t around.
If you fully immerse your kids in righteousness, they will be like a sponge that is full of good. When they are around others, they can spread that goodness to others.
Seriously…if you focus on this one thing you can know your child’s heart. It’s an amazing thing.
What have you done to try and make an impact on your child’s heart?
Share your thoughts in the comments below! It is so nice to hear from other parents about what works for them too.