When you have school-aged children, it can feel like it will be an eternity before they grow up and become independent. In truth, this time passes all too quickly – as any parent with adult kids will tell you!
For Christian parents, these years are crucial for embedding key truths, beliefs and character traits into your children. This is one of the most wonderful privileges of being a parent. But it can also seem like a frightening responsibility, especially in a world where almost any values and beliefs are acceptable – except for Christian ones.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone or unguided. In his goodness, God has provided plenty of instructions for being a parent and raising children in his Word. The Bible also contains many real-life examples of families. From them, we can see examples of parenting that works, as well as ones that don’t!
Rest assured that God can provide the grace, patience and wisdom you need to shepherd the children he has given you. We understand that sin has shattered God’s perfect world, including his ideal for marriage and family life. We know some parents are dealing with issues like single parenting or raising a child who has special needs.
We’ve created this roadmap to step you through some key aspects of parenting throughout your child’s school years.
The ‘Why’ of Christian parenting and guiding your children to maturity
The fundamental goal for Christian parents should be to guide their children to a saving faith in Christ and to set them on a path to maturity, bringing them to the full measure of his glory (Eph 4:13).
Parenting is one of God’s most important callings. Children are a gift and blessing from God (Psalm 127:3-5). Only Jesus achieved perfection, thus God does not expect parents to be perfect. He encourages us to look to Christ, the forerunner and perfecter of our faith, and to follow in his footsteps as best we can, seeking his guidance (Heb 12:2).
There are some universal parenting concepts that apply to children at all stages of development. They are as follows:
Why disciplining your children is essential to raising responsible adults
Several verses encourage parents to educate and train their children, as well as warn against the repercussions of not doing so (see, for example, Proverbs 1:8-9 and 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:4). Children who are raised with loving discipline provide their parents joy and tranquilly. The Bible even goes so far as to suggest that parents who do not discipline their children despise them (Prov 13:24)
As Hebrews 12:11 points out, disciplining your children can be tough, however it later “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.”
How we guide our children determines their Christian faith in adulthood
Proverbs 22:6 is one of the most frequently quoted verses about child rearing: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
While children must make their own decision to follow Christ (Romans 10:8-11), parents can assist them by sharing the gospel with them and modelling a Christian lifestyle.
Nurturing and strengthening your child’s faith through bible study
Paul portrays Timothy’s faith as being fostered from childhood through teaching in the Scriptures, which “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3).
Regular, age-appropriate Bible study with your children can help them develop sound doctrine. The use of “teachable moments” can aid in the development of Bible knowledge and Christian character.
Families can also come together to pray, practise hospitality, and attend church. Some parents will pick Christian schools as partners in their children’s education as they grow into godly young adults.
Christian parenting communication tips
Any partnership relies heavily on communication. Encourage your children to be open with you from an early age. Return the favour by being candid in an age-appropriate manner.
Your children may reach a point where you appear to be the last person they want to talk to. They still need your help, advice, and encouragement, though.
Maintain open lines of communication by:
- Listening without interrupting what your children have to say
- Using nonverbal communication such as eye contact, tone of voice, and gestures to say exactly what you mean (eg. nod to show you understand)
- Keeping your emotions in check – regardless of what they say, remain calm and sensible. Try to remain open-minded rather than leaping to conclusions, and ask questions to explain anything you’re confused about.
Now it’s time to consider parenting in the context of your children’s school life.
The first 3 years of school: the chance for Christian parents to set a good foundation
Patterns established early will continue to have an impact. As your children’s lives bear the fruit of your commitment, parental effort put in the early school years will reap a magnificent reward later.
Creating rules, limits, and consequences help Christian parents
God establishes rules and boundaries to protect and nurture his children. Family rules are intended to accomplish the same thing.
Family rules can be beneficial.
- Children learn what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour;
- Children learn that rules are a part of life;
- They govern how your family behaves with each other;
- They build a calm, harmonious home atmosphere; and
- They help parents determine when a consequence is necessary.
Positive, concise words that explain behaviour expectations are good family norms. If at all possible, focus on what to do rather than what not to do. For example, rather than, “Don’t be nasty to each other,” a rule can be, “We talk to each other respectfully.”
Include all family members in the decision-making process, and keep the list as brief as possible, especially for smaller children. Arguments will be less likely if a written list is posted where everyone can see it.
What should be the objective of your family’s rules?
Each family’s rules will be different, but they should cover the most significant aspects of yours. You might want to establish rules for:
- routines – such as bedtimes and brushing teeth
- safety – such as only crossing the road with an adult
- etiquette – such as saying please and thank you
- behaviour – such as treating others as you would like to be treated
Revisiting your rules as your children mature
You’ll need to revisit your rules over time to see if they’re still functioning and alter them to meet your family’s requirements and circumstances.
Creating repercussions for challenging behaviours
If you’re going to make rules, make sure you spell out the penalties of breaking them.
Consequences can be beneficial or harmful:
- When your child follows your instructions and receives a favourable consequence (or reward), they are more likely to repeat the behaviour. For example, they brush their teeth every day during the week and go to the park on weekends.
- Your child acts in a specific way in order to avoid a negative result. They accomplish their homework before watching TV, for example, to avoid losing their TV rights. This raises the chances of repeating the same behaviour in similar conditions.
- When your child acts in a certain way, he or she faces a negative consequence. They may, for example, push their sibling and receive a time-out. This reduces the likelihood of this behaviour occurring again.
Consequences may include:
- Natural: that is, directly connected to the behaviour. For example, if your child refuses to eat, they’ll get hungry.
- Related: that is, linked with the behaviour you want to discourage. For example, if siblings fight over a toy, that toy gets put away for the day.
- Intentional: some consequences won’t be directly linked to the behaviour, but still give your child the chance to learn that actions have outcomes. Examples include loss of privileges (such as taking away screen time or a favourite toy), and time-out (sending your child to an uninteresting place for a short time).
Consequences are most effective when they are used in the following ways:
- clearly explained in advance and linked to your family rules
- used consistently in response to your child’s behaviour
- combined with praise and rewards for good behaviour
- kept brief so your child has a chance to do better
- applied in a calm, neutral tone (not out of anger or frustration)
- applied soon after the behaviour
- adjusted to each child’s age and abilities
Getting into good habits for everyday life
Early childhood is the optimum time to develop good behaviours that support physical and mental wellbeing, increasing your child’s chances of living a long, healthy, and productive Christian life.
Sleep to reduce anxiety
Research shows that getting enough sleep is essential for healthy growth and development. In fact, insufficient sleep has been related to learning and attention problems in childs, as well as an increased risk of accidents, injuries, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression.
Your child will be able to concentrate, remember what they’ve learned, and behave well if they get enough quality sleep, which will boost their chances of academic achievement.
This age group needs 10-11 hours of sleep per night.
Tips for assisting your child in getting a good night’s sleep
- Establish a nightly ritual, which includes putting on pyjamas, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, and reading before bed.
- Preparing for bedtime — read with your child or listen to soothing music to help them rest for the night. Before going to bed, study the Bible or listen to soft music.
- Turn off all screens and devices at least an hour before bedtime.
- Ascertain that your children’s sleeping quarters are sufficiently dark and peaceful.
- Maintain consistent bed and waking times.
- In the late afternoon and evening, stay away from any stimulant foods or beverages, such as chocolate and sports drinks.
Hygiene for a healthy life
In order to keep your children healthy and limit the danger of infection, they should practise good personal hygiene.
- Hand washing regularly
- Baths or showers should be taken every day
- Brushing and flossing their teeth
- Learning to wipe after using the toilet
- Learning to blow their nose and cover a cough
Nutrition as part of everyday life
Children require adequate nutrition to maintain their developing brains and bodies and to give the energy they require. Offering your children a variety of healthful foods from the following groups is usually the best approach:
- Veggies and fruits
- Cereals and breads
- Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and lentils
- Milk, yoghurt, and cheese
Limit your intake of processed, salty, and sugary foods and beverages.
If your child has particular nutritional requirements, seek guidance from a licenced dietitian or nutritionist. To find a dietitian near you, go to Dietitians Australia.
Physical activity as quality time
Healthy body development (bones, muscles, heart, lungs, etc.) improved strength, coordination, flexibility, posture, and balance development of healthy brain connections, which will aid focus and learning reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes maintaining a healthy body weight. Being physically active with your child can be a great way to spend quality time together.
Children aged 5 to 17 years should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical exercise every day, primarily aerobic activities. At least three days each week, vigourous activities, as well as those that improve muscle and bone, should be incorporated.
Limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day and break up long periods of sitting as much as possible.
Here are some suggestions to encourage physical activity:
- Assist your child in trying new things and discovering activities that they enjoy.
- Be a good role model by being active and doing physical activities as a family.
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine — for example, by walking or riding your bike to school.
- Recognise and applaud your child’s active efforts.
Relaxation in desperate times
It’s also critical to give your child some “quiet time.” Today’s children are overworked and rushed as their parents hustle them from one activity to the next.
- Children require a significant amount of time to relax, play, and explore their creativity. Teaching children how to relax now will be extremely beneficial as their schoolwork becomes more demanding later on.
- Creating time and space for free play and imaginative hobbies are two approaches to foster relaxation.
- Avoid overscheduling by engaging in soothing activities such as crafting, gardening, and reading with your child. Teach your child deep breathing and listen to relaxing music.
Developing a routine
Good routines are closely linked to healthy habits. Working on these now can help your child develop greater independence and self-discipline, both of which are essential for future success.
Young children will struggle to remember everything they need to complete in a day and will require more of your assistance. You might want to make a daily task chart. For younger children, use images. This could be a daily to-do list or a step-by-step plan to follow. You could tie rewards to the execution of tasks they dislike or find difficult, such as:
- personal hygiene activities such as toileting, hand washing, and brushing their teeth
- preparing uniforms, getting dressed and ready for school
- completing schoolwork and reading bath time and getting ready for bed
As a Christian parent it is a privilege to nurture your child’s faith
Research has confirmed the goodness of God’s design for families. Families that eat, pray, and play together are stronger. Here are some suggestions for how you may invest in your child’s spiritual development.
- Construct a question box
Consider some tough questions your children might have, such as “How do we know God is real?” and “Is Jesus really God’s son?” Place them in a box after writing them on cards. You can write the answers on the reverse of the card, or have your children think about them and debate them with you.
- Memory verses for bedtime
Bible memory verses are one of the most valuable gifts you can give your children. Write or print them on cards, then practise them at bedtime. As a nightly reminder, you may tape your current memory passage to your child’s wall or bed frame.
- Considering the Bible
Try writing Bible passages on a mirror your child uses frequently with a dry-erase marker. That way, you can think on Scripture while doing things like cleaning your teeth and hair. After a week, you can start erasing words and letting your children fill in the holes.
- Having confidence in your family
Do you have other Christians in your family? Your child could do interviews with relatives to understand more about their Christian journeys and what it means to be a Christian. Also, tell your children about your own personal testimony. Hearing it will help your child feel more at home in his or her own household as well as in God’s.
Other suggestions for strengthening your child’s faith in God
- Pray with your child – it’s a joy to praise God and watch how he responds to their requests.
- Play worship music, especially songs with Scripture lyrics, and sing it.
- Mealtimes with the family are a terrific time to read and discuss the Bible.
- Read books on biblical characters and faith heroes.
- Attend church as a family.
- Watch Christian movies appropriate for your age group.
- Invite missionaries, pastors, Christian workers, and those in need to your home and extend hospitality to them.
Don’t forget to teach your child about the gospel. There is no greater joy than leading your child to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Developing positive relationships is the part of Christian life
Warm, responsive, and secure relationships are critical for your child’s development and well-being. Apart from your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself is the most important.
Your child may want to be more independent once they start school, but they still need your love and attention. Even if they aren’t always as communicative, children will look to you (and other adult role models) for guidance and support.
Advice on how to form a close bond with your child
- Give your child lots of positive attention by being warm and interested in their lives. To keep the conversation going, a smart question to ask is, “Wow, why do you think she said that?”
- Gardening, cooking, and playing in the park are all enjoyable hobbies to partake in with your friends. Make the most of this time to talk about your child’s circumstances.
- When your child gets home, don’t bombard him or her with questions about school. Instead, approach them only when you sense they’re in the right frame of mind and ask brief, direct questions.
- By sharing meals and building family rituals, you can create family rituals such as movie or game nights, weekend hikes, or bike adventures. These activities aid in the creation of long-lasting memories and the strengthening of family bonds.
- Respond honestly and in language appropriate for your child’s age group if your child expresses concern about a sensitive subject. Your child will learn that he or she may come to you at any time if you establish open lines of communication today.
- Learn how to answer Your Kids Tough Faith Questions here.
Friendships formed in high school can impact their eternal life
Friendships are vital for your child’s self-esteem, and school gives them access to an expanding network of people. Having great friends offers children a sense of belonging and allows them to learn crucial life skills such as cooperating with others, taking turns, and resolving conflicts. Moreover, friendships at this formative time can either encourage their Christian walk or discourage it.
Suggestions for assisting your child in forming school friendships
- Learn about your child’s buddies so you can understand what they’re up to and how powerful they are.
- To establish friendships and get to know other families, schedule playdates and sleepovers.
- Remind your child of social skills such as making eye contact and not interrupting others when they meet new people.
- Encourage them to participate in fun activities, such as sports or hobbies, that will allow them to meet new people.
- Encourage your children to attend Sunday School and/or Kids Club at your church.
- If you’re worried about your child’s social development, talk to their teacher.
You must take action if you suspect bullying. Start by reading How to identify if your child is being bullied at school.
Getting used to school
Helping your child acclimate to school life is a big aspect of parenting at this age. Once you’ve chosen a school, you can ease the transfer by acquainting them with the surroundings.
Attend school tours or teacher greeting activities, for example, and show your child where the restrooms, classrooms, and pick-up area are located. Discuss fundamental school regulations with your child, such as asking the instructor before using the restroom during class.
Tips for parents to help their child get ready for school
There are a few additional things you can do to help your child get ready for school.
- Buy uniforms, stationery, luggage and other necessary stuff
Make sure your child’s outfit, shoes, and bag are altered to fit comfortably before the first day of school. On the website of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, there is information about finding well-fitting shoes and bags.
Obtain all necessary stationery and lunch supplies, and clearly label everything with your child’s name.
- Expect a range of emotions
It can be both exciting and nerve-wracking to start ‘big school.’ Talk about school in a positive light and tell your child that everything will be great. You may read books about starting school and organise playdates with children who are enrolled in the same school, in addition to providing moral support.
You may be emotional about your child entering school, so be ready to deal with your own emotions. Try to keep your fears from your child and be happy and calm. It can be beneficial to speak with other parents who have gone through similar situations. Also, don’t forget to bring some Kleenex!
- The initial weeks
Right now, novelty and excitement are in high demand, but established habits will see you through when they fade.
Attempt to drop off and pick up your child with plenty of time to spare on a regular basis. Make time after school for a healthy snack (most children are hungry at that point) and a conversation about their day. Pose open-ended questions such as, “What was the finest part of your day?” and “What was the most difficult part of your day?”
Don’t get too worked up about your academic or social progress too soon. Your child is off to a wonderful start if he or she is happy and enjoying school.
- Encourage their early education
Your child’s perception of school will be shaped by his or her current experiences. Showing interest in your child’s education is one of the most important things you can do. According to the Department of Education:
“Research has shown that when schools and families work together, children do better, stay in school longer, are more engaged with their school work, go to school more regularly, behave better, and have better social skills. Parent engagement also results in longer term economic, social and emotional benefits.”
Ask them questions about school, supervise homework, assist in your child’s classroom, and attend parent-teacher discussions.
Reading with your child is also a tremendous help. Daily reading boosts brain activity, increases comprehension, and expands vocabulary and critical thinking, among other benefits.
Avoid putting too much pressure on young students to perform; this might detract from their enjoyment of learning, imagination, and creativity. Praise both their efforts and their accomplishments.
- If you’re worried, seek help
If you’re worried about how your child is adjusting to school, make an appointment to speak with their teacher.
Cybersecurity education begins at a young age
It’s never too early to begin teaching your children about online safety. Share potential threats with children in an age-appropriate manner by saying something like, “Some individuals use the internet in ways that can be frightening or harmful.” If anything makes you feel uneasy, always come to me.”
Years 3–6: Assuming greater responsibilities in everyday life
You’ve probably gotten used to school life and have established some strong habits. The next step is to assist your children in making a smooth transition into their adolescent years. Here are several parenting must-haves for this age group.
Organising skills are taught
Your child can begin to take on additional responsibilities. Teach them to do activities like pack their school bag, make their lunch, and get ready for school each morning to help them gain greater independence.
You can also have them help with easy tasks like setting and cleaning the table, loading the dishwasher, and hanging the laundry. This offers children an understanding of what it takes to maintain a household and the importance of everyone’s input.
Dignity and identity
As your child progresses from childhood to adolescent, he or she will go through several social and emotional changes. They’re trying to figure out who they are and where they belong in society. Experimenting with music, dress styles, friendships, and media could be part of their exploration of their identity.
Encourage your child to find their identity in Christ rather than in materialistic possessions. Read the articles below to learn more about what God says about his children:
Through activities such as church attendance, kids club, and Christian camps, they can develop relationships with Christian peers and mentors.
Parents should continue rewarding good behaviour
Hopefully, you’ve established solid habits, and now it’s time to reinforce them. It’s possible that your family rules will need to be updated to include more items, such as the usage of technology and visiting friends. Examine the repercussions to ensure that they are also appropriate. Take advantage of your children’s increased ability to reflect on their behaviour at this age.
Maintain open lines of communication by actively listening to and involving your child in family choices. Before having difficult conversations with your child, have a plan, take them seriously, and continue to praise them for making good choices.
Being a positive role model for your child is a great method to influence their behaviour. Your child will be more likely to follow the family rules and treat others as you would like to be treated if you do.
Continue to invest in your relationship by spending quality time together, communicating your feelings, and attempting to connect with their world, for example, by listening to music or viewing films that they appreciate.
A sense of humour is also necessary, as is the ability to apologise for your own mistakes.
Developing conflict resolution skills to achieve life goals
Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, and being able to deal with it effectively is a necessary skill in order to reach your goals. Children that can do so are typically happier, have stronger friendships, and perform better in school.
Rather than attempting to handle all of your child’s interpersonal disputes, you should teach them how to do so.
How to teach your child how to handle disagreement
- Be a good role model by resolving your own relationship concerns in a calm, courteous, and considerate manner.
- Teach your child how to keep calm by taking deep breaths, stopping before responding, and, if necessary, walking away.
- Assist them with identifying their emotions, so they can figure out why a situation is unpleasant and how to respond appropriately.
- Encourage empathy so that they can perceive the problem from the perspective of the other person.
- Teach communication skills, such as attentively listening to the other person, avoiding acting on emotions, and talking about how they feel using “I” statements.
- Encourage problem-solving skills such as brainstorming alternatives, considering potential implications, learning to compromise, and evaluating how well their chosen answer worked.
- Use conflict to put godly character traits like kindness, patience, and forgiveness into practise.
Check out PeacewiseKids for additional information on teaching your children biblical conflict resolution techniques.
Developing godly character and growing in the Christian faith
Christianity is more about having a relationship with the real God than it is about following laws. Continue to do everything you can to strengthen your child’s faith, such as studying the Bible together, praying together, going to church, and talking about difficult topics.
It’s a good idea to broaden your child’s circle of Christian friends and mentors as they become older, so they understand that Christianity extends beyond their family. Christian educators, youth pastors, and Christian families can serve as excellent role models.
Digital citizenship that is responsible
Whether they like it or not, today’s children live in a digital environment. Every action children take online has the potential to leave a “digital footprint” that will follow them for the rest of their life. You can start discussing internet threats and the influence of your child’s personal online activities at this age.
Good digital citizens treat others with respect, safeguard their own and others’ privacy, and are aware of the specific safety problems that exist in the online world.
Teach your child the following skills to help them become a good digital citizen:
1. Keep personal information confidential
Teach children the fundamentals, such as the significance of privacy and never revealing personal information or passwords. Check that their privacy settings are appropriate and that location services are turned off if they have gadgets.
2. Recognise the difference between fact and fiction
Your child must understand that in the digital world, anyone can publish anything, which implies that online material could be inaccurate or deceptive.
Going online with them is a terrific approach to encourage children to go deeper, ask questions, and think critically about what they find. It’s also a good time to teach children the difference between journalism and advertising, as well as how to deal with pop-ups.
3. Be on the lookout for con artists and predators
Discuss how not everyone has the best of intentions. Talk about cybersafety and being cautious about what they share online using age-appropriate language. Assure them that they are free to talk to you about anything that appears unusual or uncomfortable.
Discuss hormones and physical changes with your child
Puberty usually begins between the ages of 8 and 14, so it’s vital to talk about it before the physical changes begin.
When your child is relaxed and ready to talk, start a conversation. As an opener, you may use a scenario from a book or a movie. It’s beneficial to:
- use the talk to emphasise your ideals, such as body respect (1 Cor 6:19-20).
- Use precise terminology to keep interactions factual.
- Reassure your child that everyone’s changes begin and continue differently.
- Don’t compare your child to others.
Reading Dr. Patricia Weerakoon’s book Birds and Bees might help you talk to your child about puberty.
Management of funds
Now is a fantastic time to start teaching your children basic money management skills if you haven’t already. You may compensate them for extra work and teach them how to split their earnings between giving, saving, and spending.
Money is discussed extensively in the Bible, particularly how God wants us to use it to bless others and build his Kingdom. To learn more, read:
- 20 Bible Verses on Money and Stewardship
- Bible Verses About Money: What Does the Bible Have to Say About Our Financial Lives?
Years 7–10: Increasing your child’s self-sufficiency to overcome real challenges
Your teen will most likely demand more independence in high school. They may desire more control over how they spend their time, who they associate with, and how they travel. They’ll probably desire more privacy as well.
Changes in your house, family ties, and routine may be necessary. To help your children traverse the path to adulthood, you’ll need God’s wisdom.
Many children begin to prefer spending time with their friends over spending time with their families. This may appear to be a threat, yet it is a natural step towards independence. It can aid in keeping track of who they spend their time with, encouraging participation in church activities, and cultivating relationships with Christian role models.
Early adolescence is also a time when conflict is at its pinnacle, so be prepared to negotiate. Your family rules will very certainly need to be updated again.
Discussing crucial problems such as drugs, alcohol, and sex
You may feel self-conscious about starting uncomfortable talks, but it is critical that you do so. Your child will obtain information from other sources, such as friends or the internet, if you do not provide it.
With children being exposed to serious themes at an earlier age than ever before, it’s never too early to speak with them on an age-appropriate level. Parents who are well-informed and actively involved in their children’s lives are best positioned to help them make better decisions.
Family trust can be built via open, nonjudgmental dialogues about relationships, sex, and sexuality. Look for opportunities to bring these concerns up in regular situations, such as when they appear in a movie, TV show, or book.
You might like to read Growing Up By the Book to assist you in speaking about sex with your children.
Mental and physical wellness are important to discuss
Adolescence is a period of fast development and change. Teenage brains and bodies are fast maturing in terms of physical, social, and emotional maturity, and the transition can be challenging!
Maintaining proper sleep, eating, and activity routines on a physical level will aid in all areas. Growth spurts, which necessitate more energy and nutrients, make teenagers feel hungry. Provide nutritious meals and set a good example to encourage healthy eating habits.
Teens should engage in one hour or more of moderate to strenuous physical exercise and several hours of light physical activity each day, as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities at least three times per week, according to Australian standards.
Teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep per night. They may go to bed and wake up later during adolescence.
It may appear that social and emotional changes are more difficult to manage than physical changes. Here are some suggestions for assisting your child with these issues.
- Maintain a positive working connection
Continue to create opportunities for you and your spouse to spend time together. Be ready to listen when they want to talk, which may not be when you want to talk! Listen calmly and actively, and try to respond with grace and honesty wherever possible.
- Parents, be a role model for others
Your child will model how you interact with your spouse, friends, relatives, and coworkers, so try your best to demonstrate empathy and respect for others, as well as effective conflict resolution.
- Listening attentively
This entails giving your complete attention to your child; if you are unable to do it right away, schedule a time to do so later. Try to perceive things from their point of view and ‘read between the lines’ to find out how they feel.
- Get to know their pals
As your child’s circle of friends grows, try to learn more about who he or she is hanging out with. Make them feel welcome by inviting them around. Your house can become a location where your child and their friends can see Christ’s love in action on a daily basis.
Mental health in teenagers can be a real challenge
Teen development, resiliency, and relationship building all benefit from good mental health. Healthy living habits and avoiding drugs and alcohol, as well as having a supportive and caring connection with yourself, have a beneficial impact on mental wellbeing.
Other mental health advice for teenagers
- Demonstrate an interest in their lives, thoughts, and feelings.
- Demonstrate your devotion and love for them.
- Praise their efforts, as well as their accomplishments.
- Rather than allowing problems to fester, deal with them as soon as possible.
- If you’re worried about your child’s mental health, talk to them.
- If you require additional assistance, get professional counsel and support.
Starting to consider life after school and life goals
As your child enters high school, he or she may begin to consider the future. You can lead them by:
- encouraging them to explore choices rather than forcing them to make decisions
- encouraging them to consider their abilities, talents, and passions
- praying and seeking God’s guidance for their future
- speaking with a variety of people about their work
- attending open days for job and training institutions
- obtaining advice from your school’s career guidance adviser in order to assist them in obtaining job experience and/or part-time employment.
Christian habits to follow
Start talking to your children about accepting responsibility for their own Christian faith if you haven’t before. It’s time for you to take a step back (but not completely!) and let God work in their lives.
You can also encourage them to develop Christian habits such as:
- creatively developing their gifts, such as writing Christian poems, composing songs, baking, and crafts,
- using their interests to serve, such as playing music at church,
- personal devotions/daily Bible study,
- mentoring younger children,
- prayer, and giving.
Academic discipline development
In addition, when students progress through high school, their academic obligations become more demanding. While not all children are academically inclined, adopting discipline will help them succeed in school, at jobs, and in life.
Instead of focusing on grades, emphasise effort. Emphasise that everyone has various abilities, and that some children can achieve academic success with little effort. Effort and devotion, on the other hand, always get people further than talent alone. More importantly, God has commanded us to labour in this manner (Colossians 3:23-24).
In secondary school, homework becomes increasingly significant and is linked to academic progress. You can assist your child by overseeing his or her homework and setting aside time and space at home for it to be completed. If your child appears to be suffering with schoolwork, speak with their teacher.
Use of social media
This period of a child’s life is also associated with an increase in interest in internet activities. Social media and other forms of media can have a significant impact on your teen’s thoughts and behaviour. This influence has the potential to be beneficial. Important messages like good health, identity, and being responsible global citizens can be taken in by teenagers. They can improve their critical thinking skills by watching news and current events.
It can, however, have the opposite consequence. Body image, lifestyle choices, and attitudes can all be negatively influenced by advertising and social media.
Helping your child deal with media influence
1. Let’s talk about it Teenagers can better regulate media influence if they are aware of it. Discuss topics such as advertising and sponsorship with your child so that he or she realises that not all information is what it appears to be. You may need to discuss photoshopping, violence, criminal behaviour, sex, and exploitation, depending on what they consume.
Speak with your child about who they’re engaging with online and what they’re sharing.
2. Encourage your children to ask questions Encourage your child to ask questions while talking about the media. Encourage critical thinking and reflection. Assist your child in distinguishing facts from opinions, detecting prejudice, and comprehending the misuse of data and statistics.
You could, for example, discuss who is behind the content and what they are attempting to achieve, such as political power or financial gain.
3. Control your screen time As part of a healthy lifestyle, it’s critical for teenagers to balance screen time with other activities. It’s out of hand when screen time interferes with sleep, physical activity, socialisation, hobbies, or schooling.
4. Be on the lookout for cyberbullying This developing issue has the potential to be a significant drawback to otherwise beneficial digital technologies. Read Defeating Cyberbullying - A Guide for Families for further information on how to deal with cyberbullying.
Dating as a Christian young adult
Hormones are changing and bodies are changing, which can lead to an increase in interest in dating and relationships. The physical, social, and emotional changes of adolescence, as well as your child’s growing interest in body image, independence, and privacy, will complicate love interactions at this age.
As a result, they can exacerbate disorientation and emotional upheaval. Parenting that is wise, sensitive, and compassionate can help your children get through this difficult period.
Every family will have various perspectives on dating during the school years, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Many 10- to 14-year-olds spend more time in mixed-gender groups and are more likely to start dating. Such relationships grow increasingly common between the ages of 15 and 19. Some ‘high school sweethearts’ go on to marry for the rest of their lives.
Of course, every adolescent is unique. Some people aren’t interested in dating and would rather focus on their studies, hobbies, and friendships. If your child does start dating, strong hormones and emotions might make it simple for them to cross a line that isn’t meant to be crossed.
Giving your child more power and responsibility over their money as they become older is a smart idea. It’s critical to teach your child about efficient money management, whether they have a part-time job, receive an allowance, or earn money by doing chores. This will teach children how to value things, how to save for a goal, and how to enjoy the joy of giving.
Helping your teen handle his or her money
- Encourage them to make and stick to a budget. Examine their weekly earnings and have them set aside money for things like transportation and phone bills, social outings, and personal desires such as clothing or technology.
- Include your child in family financial discussions, such as discussing your family’s budget, giving habits, or saving for a vacation.
- Allow them to make some mistakes (such as losing money) so that they can learn from them.
- Give your child a budget for a special occasion, such as a birthday party or a day out with friends, and make sure they stick to it.
- Encourage children to save away some of their pocket or birthday money for charitable purposes.
- Teach them how to keep track of their spending and bills (such as phone bills) to avoid overspending.
- Assist them in establishing short- and long-term savings goals, as well as opening a bank account.
- Encourage children to figure out how much things are worth and compare prices.
- If you lend them money, make sure you have a repayment plan in place.
Years 11 & 12: Launch preparations for the Christian life
Congratulations — you’re almost there! As your child prepares to transfer to life outside of school, the final stretch can be stressful. Here are some pointers to assist in completing the task successfully.
Effective time management
At the end of the school year, your child’s life – and hence yours – gets increasingly hectic. They may be balancing school, part-time work, learning to drive, sports or hobbies, church activity and socialising, as well as family obligations.
While there’s little doubt that Jesus was busy while on earth, the gospels don’t portray him as a man who meticulously planned his time or hurried from one duty to the next.
Jesus made the most of his time by entering each day with calm and purpose, aligning his activities with the plan of his Father (John 5:19-20). Parents can assist their teen with time management by encouraging them to focus on how they can utilise time wisely to fulfil their God-given purpose.
Planning and regulating the amount of time you spend on specific tasks is crucial to good time management.
Techniques for Time Management
1. Determine your objectives If you don’t know what you want from your time, it’s nearly impossible to manage it effectively. Setting short- and long-term goals can help your teen succeed. A short-term objective would be to do their homework across three afternoons so that they can train for sports on the other days. Their long-term ambition could be to play for the national squad.
2. Establish a priority list Tasks can be assessed according to their importance by assessing what has to be performed within a particular time frame. Students can achieve their goals by setting priorities for each day, week, month, and year.
Remember to include things that are very necessary but not urgent, such as personal devotions, proper sleep, and exercise, while defining priorities.
3. Organise yourself After you’ve established your priorities, you’ll need to devise a strategy for achieving them. Some people are naturally organised, while others require assistance. Your child may like writing down their priorities in a planner or calendar, as well as using organisational tools and apps.
Encourage them to begin assignments early, avoid distractions (such as social media), and refrain from multitasking.
Finding a balance between your studies and your personal life
School may appear to be all that matters at this point, especially if your child is focused on academic achievement. Others may be devoted to a sport or activity to the point of obsession.
Your child will be extremely busy at certain points of the year, such as during exams. You may need to assist them in finding a better balance if they are continually overwhelmed or weary, or if they have no time for friendships or religion.
Prepare a study schedule including quality time
You and your teen could make a study schedule together to find a healthy balance.
- Begin with an agenda — have them write out the dates of all future assignments and tests on an online or paper calendar. Include free time as well as crucial activities such as youth group, exercise, and family time. You might want to set deadlines a few days ahead of time to allow for unexpected events.
- Make a master timetable — using the agenda as a guide, block off time for studying or assignments. This will assist your child in prioritising their tasks and adhering to deadlines. You might compute how much time to allow daily or weekly after estimating how long each project will take.
- Make project plans — If your child is feeling overwhelmed, assist them in breaking down their study plan or project into smaller, more manageable pieces. Consider assigning a deadline to each part.
- Take frequent rests — when you work on something for an extended period of time, your concentration tends to decrease. Encourage your teen to take a half-hour or so break every now and again. They could eat something or take a short walk. It’s also a good idea to rest completely one day a week, like God intended (Lev 23:3, Deut 5:14).
Getting ready for life after school
Your adolescent has most likely begun to consider post-school options such as work or additional education. While some people are laser-focused and definite about their future steps, others are undecided.
Tips for assisting your adolescent in preparing for the future
- Discuss their alternatives, which may include vocational training, university, a gap year, or seeking a job. What appeals to you the most, and what can you rule out? Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option in the short and long run.
- Consider their hobbies, personalities, and abilities. They may, for example, prefer math as a topic and enjoy assisting others. Is it possible for them to combine these interests into a career?
- Speak with teachers, the school’s career counsellor, and others who work in the fields they’re interested in.
- Assist them in finding work experience, part-time work, or volunteer opportunities.
- Encourage them to participate in church and youth group activities.
- Teach children critical life skills such as cooking, laundry, and bill paying.
- Pray and seek God’s guidance; read Scripture passages and publications, such as Every Good Endeavour, to help discern God’s purpose for employment.
- You may also be instructing them on how to drive. Remember to teach them how to check tyre pressure and oil levels, as well as other fundamental maintenance skills.
- Encourage their interactions with other adults who can serve as role models and mentors.
It’s critical that your child understands that the decisions he or she makes today are important, but they are not the end all. Assist them in realising that professions are a journey, and that mid-course modifications are typical.
Remind them that mistakes help us learn, and that God’s decisions are never unexpected! Our loving, all-knowing Father has a good plan for everyone of our lives, and accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour is the most essential decision anybody can make (John 1:12). Looking at things from a long-term perspective might help you find balance and peace.
Final thoughts on Christian parenting
The school years are an important time of your child’s life, but they aren’t the end of Christianparenting! Your life experience, wisdom, prayer, and guidance will continue to assist your child into adulthood.
Remember that you are not alone when things become tough, as they will at some point. There are those who would love to help you or your child with your physical, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing.
Your doctor, pastor, youth leader, and your child’s teachers are all willing and able to assist you with specific difficulties.