Whether they like it, or not, our kids need us to watch out for their missteps, so we can give them corrective guidance. And with the increasing social connections, life opportunities, and freedoms that come with the teenage years, it seems this part of parenting just gets bigger and more challenging. And that is why it is so essential for their healthy character formation that we parents commit ourselves to catching them in the act.
Catching them in the act of doing the right thing! That’s right. Doing the right thing. Showing strong character. Making wise choices. Displaying a Christlike spirit. Amidst our best efforts at corrective feedback to our teens and younger children, we need to let them know we see the good and wonderful things in them. It quite literally breathes much-needed life into their spirits. Here are five simple ways to up your game on catching your kids in the act:
- Remember to be on the lookout for good things in your teen’s life on a regular basis. While it may come quite naturally at times and with certain kids, in other seasons or with other kids, it just won’t happen unless you are committed to looking for the good. Let us live as parents according to Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
- Take time to hand-write a letter or card commending your teen or child for the good you are seeing in her/him. Be specific. Be sure to share how much this means to you, and why you believe it is so important. Seeing such praise in your own handwriting may just mean the world to your youngster, especially if parenting conversations have been tense or critical lately.
- Tell your teen exactly how you see Christ or some kind of Godliness reflected in his/her choices, actions, or words. This not only offers a word of affirmation, but also puts things in the highest possible context.
- Have a little celebration on their behalf to recognize what is going right. This isn’t something you are going to do every time your teen makes a good choice or accomplishes a difficult victory. But if you make the effort to do something really special together to highlight how truly important that seemingly small thing really is, your will make a deep heart impression.
- Write an encouraging word on your teen’s bathroom or bedroom mirror. You don’t need to get lengthy, and don’t get your feelings hurt if your son or daughter erases the message sooner than you would like. But you might be surprised how long some kids will leave this kind of affirmation in place, to be reminded daily that they are more than their mistakes or shortcomings. Goodness – don’t we all need to remember that?!