A City Broken

Wall by oceanThe Bible teaches us that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls (Proverbs 25:28). We are open, exposed, and basically waiting to be attacked. Our defenses are down, available to an enemy who seeks to plunder.

One advantage to homeschooling is that as we train our children academically, we are also training them in character. We are helping form the adults they will one day become. Training their character is just as important as training their minds; in fact, they go hand in hand.

So what do we do when our children are defenseless and vulnerable? How do we help them rebuild their fortress, securing themselves from the inevitable attack of the world and its influence?

Just like building a city, we build their character one brick at a time. We need to help them form their foundation, build their walls, and place guards to keep watch.

Forming the Foundation. In I Corinthians 3:11 we are told, “For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”. The foundation of all that we do, should be Christ. Our children should be steeped in the Word; knowing not only what they believe, but why they believe it. This will help them better understand why they need to have self-control.

Build the Walls.  In order to gain self-control, our children need to be given the proper tools; they need instruction and a lot of encouragement. There are some great steps that we can take to help them along the way.

  • Lead by example – You need to have self-control before you can teach your children.
  • Teach them to recognize – Children need to be able to identify when something is becoming a problem, long before it actually is a problem. Recognize the warning signs and instruct them how to avoid trouble.
  • Teach them to pray – The first, and best thing, to do when control starts to become an issue, is to pray! Let the Lord have control of the situation, not your emotions.
  • Teach them scripture – Meditating on the Word of God is a great way to help them be filled with the Holy Spirit and not hurtful emotion.
  • Teach them to think – Show the kids how to work through the emotion and be logical. Whether it’s taking a walk, doing some deep breathing, or distracting yourself with another activity, we need to take a minute to reasonably work through the situation.
  • Teach them to act – Identifying the problem is only half the battle, we now need to resolve the issue. Form a “game plan” and then make it happen.

Place guards to watch. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23. Let forgiveness and righteousness be your armor; allowing nothing evil to enter in and being quick to overlook the fault in others.

Whether you are doing arithmetic, piano, or taking that fun field trip; self-control is a vital lesson being learned. With grace and a lot of encouragement, our children will learn to use temperance in their daily lives, growing into the people they were called to be.

Let the Lord build and guard your children; with Him, you can’t go wrong. “…Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Time to Chime In: How do you instill self-control in your children? Is there a practical way that you safeguard them from emotional outbursts?



13 thoughts on “A City Broken

  1. All your suggestions are great. 🙂

    We use a book called Zones of Regulation in our family. That spells out what you’re talking about for kids who are more literal thinkers or struggle with self regulation. It divides between different colored zones: blue (tired, sick, sad), green (content, focused, caring, thoughtful, happy), yellow (anxious, excited, strong emotion but still with some control), and red (same basic feelings as yellow but now out of control). Everyone learns to identify what zone one is in (and each other) and then develop a collection of “tools” for self regulation. The goal is to notice as soon as one is heading into the yellow zone and make sure to use tools to not go into the red zone unless it’s expected. No zone is bad and there are times it’s expected to be in each and every zone, the difficulty comes when someone is in an “unexpected” zone… Say, the red zone when dinner plans are changed. But we all love seeing videos of people going into the red zone when a soldier comes home as a surprise for Christmas or someone finds out that a baby or grandbaby is on the way!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Hi Naomi, they can fully comprehend and get the most out of it starting at four or five, but I use the concepts and language and techniques with my two year old so I’m assuming that she’ll be way ahead when it comes to self regulation by the time she’s my son’s age, just having been learning by osmosis, so to speak.

        The emotion pictures in it are frankly terrible so we don’t use them. We really like On Monday When It Rained and The Way I Feel and The Way I Act as companion books.

        We have a box of calming tools that both kids can use. Bubbles (the goal is to blow huge bubbles in order to get those long slow breaths), feathers (for “tickles” a child can give himself), coloring book and crayons, a vibrating massager, etc. We also have a list of ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You make this sound so easy, but boy oh boy it isn’t. Training kids is hard word, but soooo worth it. I know for us, one of the things I always tell my boys is to take a deep breath and think about it for 3 seconds before they react. Not that it always works but at least they are learning. Thanks for the reminder to keep working at it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A great post… Just a thought, I agree we need to lead by example, but if I waited until I had self-control before I taught it, I would possibly never get there. I am building self-control into my life and as I do, I make sure I am real with my kids when I fail so they have an opportunity to see that although I might not always get it right, I keep going for the prize.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I ask my oldest son questions about his actions and their impact when his behavior is progressing toward a tantrum, like “Did falling on the floor rolling around help you find the puzzle piece you lost? What do you think you could do to find the puzzle piece? Do you need help or do you want to do it on your own?” I find this strategy of inquiry/reflection of impact/solution building is having an impact on him gaining control of himself and situations before they are escalated to a point of being out of control. Some days it works better than others, but I find him now asking questions about a problem in situ and talking himself through to a solution. The goal is with practice this self-regulation will become an interior monologue he uses on his own without parental prompting.

    Thanks so much for writing this post. The ideas within it, and the conversation spawned from it, are really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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