The 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 – Our children should see us exhibit these qualities. While we won’t be perfect, we can be a model and grow together.
- 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.”
Your Turn!: How do you instill self-control in your children? Is there a practical way that you safeguard them from emotional outbursts?