Do you have a child who
- Makes decisions for themselves; “I’m just gonna do this”, or they delay obedience till they’ve finished what they are doing and they feel justified to do so. There is a place for working with your children and respecting what they are doing, but there also is a place for obedience.
- Asks questions about your life; what you are doing, what you are talking about, who you are talking to? They don’t really need to know these details, they just like to know everything about everyone – it gives them control.
- Bossy to their siblings; they take over your responsibility, on the surface it looks helpful but they are taking an authority that isn’t theirs.
- Hangs around to listen to adult conversation; they just listen to collect information or they add little comments on the side. Though I don’t believe in children being seen and not heard, there is a place for adults to have adult conversation.
- Corrects you in your conversation; often in this situation the child is drawing attention to themselves, and elevating themselves to being a peer in the conversation.
The Bible says:
Be not wise in your own eyes;
reverently fear and worship the Lord
and turn [entirely] from evil
Dealing with Sneaky Attitudes
These behaviours are sneaky – we don’t always catch them, and we don’t always assess them as a problem**. But if we look at what is going on in the heart when these things take place we would be more alert.
- I am the boss, I don’t need anyone else
- I am as mature as you, I can therefore do the things you do
- I am more mature than these other kids, I can tell them what to do
- I am more able than anyone else here, I’ll take control
- I am old enough to listen to this conversation,
- I know more than these people
Ultimately there is an attitude where these children are elevating themselves to positions of authority and maturity, an elevation that they have yet to earn. How do we earn positions of authority and maturity?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? The second part of our proverb tells us; worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.
The reverent fear and worshipful awe of the Lord [includes] the hatred of evil,
pride, arrogance, the evil way, and perverted and twisted speech
This wise in your own eyes attitude drips of pride and arrogance, of self focus and self centered thinking (evil ways). We need to teach our children to put others first: to show love, respect, consideration.
One of the phrases we used to say: It isn’t about you. This sounds harsh but we all need to learn this. Life isn’t about us. We aren’t the center of every activity or every conversation. Our children need to learn this.
God tells us that our children have value as people – they aren’t to be shoofed to the side, but the Bible also tells us that there is to be order in how things are done, with respect for each other.
Help our Children Change their Attitude
Once we actually see the heart attitudes behind what our children are doing the next step becomes clearer.
Luke 6:45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
The Bible teaches us that what is in the heart comes out in our actions. So we need to change our children’s heart – change their attitude and their behaviour will change too.
When my children started to be arrogant or show pride I would send them to their rooms to reflect on what was going on in their heart. When we started this process they were quite young and I would go with them and talk them through thinking and reflecting on what they did and teaching them another way. As they grew older they were able to understand their heart and remember a better way, and decide to change their attitude. Often this would result in them apologising for their previous choices – and then they would go on and do better. I always knew if they had truly dealt with their attitude by their actions after their time of reflection.
Remember, training our children to see issues in their heart is a process; it is a process of teaching them what is good, true, honourable, and then teaching them to act accordingly. We need to teach them to resist selfishness, and choose wisely. We need to teach them how to be honest about what they’ve done, and what is in their heart. When they get to this place we can expect them to reflect on their heart and be self-motivated to change – until then, we have to sit beside them and help them (sometimes teaching, sometimes questioning helping them own their heart).
Attitude is simply the beliefs we hold in our heart that comes out in our actions – we can choose to be respectful, loving, kind or we can choose to be self-focused, arrogant, demanding, bossy and nosey!
As parents we can teach these things to our kids. It is too easy to tell them to ‘change your attitude, boy!’ and yet if we haven’t told them a) What an attitude is and b) How to change it we really aren’t helping them.
**It is always hard to write a clear list of ‘attitudes’ because in the right context these behaviours would be appropriate. We want our children to make choices for themselves, we want them to join in adult conversation, we want them to take responsibility – so it is really up to parental discernment. If your child has difficulty obeying you, or being respectful to you or other adults – then this ‘wise in your own eyes attitude is one to consider.
Over to you:
Any tips on dealing with attitude? How do you recognise it? How do you help your kids recognise it?