Struggles in Child Training: Finding Solutions in the Word

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Written by monthly contributor, Natalie Didlake

As my children grow older, I am continually tempted to think training and raising them grows more complicated. Every day seems to hold at least one situation that I have no idea how to handle. I regularly feel like that high school teacher we all had: the sweet, quiet one who got spit balls on the back of the neck and whose verbal warnings got drowned out by an out-of-control class. It can be downright overwhelming and confusing.

I am tempted to sigh in frustration when we have unresolved issues, telling myself it’s gotten out of hand. I want to give in to feeling hopeless, or ignore the problem entirely. Yeah right. Deep down, I know that if I surrender to my parenting problems, they will not go away. My kids will be incomplete, and so will I.

So what can I do when I have no clue how to handle my kids? I know I’m the authority. I want to do my job. But I have no idea what exactly that entails.

Recently, I’ve been having many victories over my hopeless attitude, and also gaining lots of insights into how to handle my kids better!

The tools I’ve been using are so simple, I can’t believe I ever by-passed them and choose frustration instead! Here’s a summary:

  1. Identify my “give-up” attitude toward raising my kids. Vow to mentally tackle the issue at hand, ASAP. No more brushing it under the rug.
  2. Pray. Confess your reliance upon God as the source of the answers. I believe He wants me to raise my kids in the Lord, since he says so in Ephesians 6:4. Therefore, I also believe he will give me exactly what I need, if I ask. (James 1:5)
  3. Think hard, trying to narrow down the specific issue at hand. Not trying to reason through it myself, but allowing scripture to sort through what my kids need to trained in, and what to let go. Oftentimes the hardest part!

A few months ago, our third child joined the other two as a full-blown talker. All three of them talking, talking, talking, all day long!

I had a general sense there was far too much talking here. But I couldn’t very well say, “Don’t talk so much!” or “Be nice in what you say!” or “Can’t I just have 5 minutes of peace and quiet!!!” Nope. Not great parenting.

I decided to just pray and ask the Lord to show me how to teach them about their speech patterns. I began seeing more specific issues that I needed to tackle one at a time. Things like interrupting (being rude, I Cor. 13); arguing (Phil. 2:14); and using harsh tones (Pr. 15:1).

These were the easy ones. Some we are working through, and others I haven’t identified yet. But one stands out in my mind as a moment the Lord spoke crystal clear, through a scripture.

My children suddenly had begun coming to me about every 2 minutes, saying things like, “Mommy, R. hit me.” “Mommy, S. won’t share.” “Mommy, L. ate my snack.” I believed they were telling the truth. And I knew it was my job to serve justice. But really? Complaining about each other all day long? I knew it wasn’t the tone I wanted in our home, but could think of no concrete way to explain it to my toddlers.

Then I remembered what I read that morning, what Jesus told his disciples:

Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. John 5:45

Accusing…that was it! My children were accusing each other. It’s so clear that Jesus is about helping, defending, and rescuing, not accusing. No wonder it bothered me so much! I researched and found out that Satan is called the “accuser of our brothers…who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Rev. 12:10)

I was so thrilled to see a solution emerge right from God’s mouth, his very word. I sat down my kids and explained to them the contrast between Jesus and Satan, and how they speak about people. Their eyes went wide when I told them Satan is an accuser who spends all day accusing us before God!

How incredible, for God to speak so directly to me and my children, as I struggle to train them!

How has God spoken to you through his word in your child-rearing? Please share!

About NDidlake

Natalie Didlake is the mother of three lively little ones, Sabrina (age 5), Roarke (age 3), and Alexia (age 2). She has been married to the winsome and brilliant Aaron for 6 years. They live in Mississippi, where they still have no clue how to be "southern." Natalie's goals are to bring the gospel to bear on every ounce of womanhood, love and enjoy her family, and maybe capture some of it in writing. In between, Natalie likes to squeeze in cooking, blogging, taking pictures of her cute kids, couponing, and saving oodles of money by bargain-hunting. Natalie blogs at Guarded by the Gospel.

38 Responses to Struggles in Child Training: Finding Solutions in the Word

  1. Morgan October 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    I appreciated this so much. Thank you for taking the time to write such godly advice! I always knew the answer was in the Book but for some reason I am always asking advice, reading articles, looking at books, etc. Last week during my bible study time I weeped over my children’s behaviors and wondered how it got to this point and what I was doing wrong. I have been praying diligently for help and this week was so much better. I tend to disengage when things are going badly even though I know it is the wrong thing to do. I have always felt inferior when reading blogs or books because these other moms seem to have it all together. So nice to know others struggle and that the solution really is straight from God’s mouth! God bless you!

    • Natalie October 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      Thank you Morgan. I am glad this helped you not feel alone, those are always my worst times for sure. You may already be doing this, but what has helped me so much is being in Proverbs. We spent time with an older couple as we were starting our family who leaned heavily on Proverbs (among other places, of course) for very practical wisdom and guidelines for raising children. It’s all in there…we just have to see and find it! :)

      I didn’t realize how much I’d benefit too, in beginning to apply Proverbs to myself – especially my words! ;)

  2. Tricia September 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Am curious where the use of the word “train” in reference to children comes from. Scripture? In the secular world, one trains a dog and raises a child.

    • Lindsay September 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

      “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it, ” is what the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6.

    • Natalie September 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      I think many Christians use it thinking of its reference in scripture, but I agree with you that the meaning of the word is somewhat disagreed upon. I have actually heard people say it is basically the same as “training a dog”. I disagree that our children can be compared to dogs!!!! But the main meaning in all these contexts is “preparation”.

      A dog receives training to be a good pet. But people also receive training for jobs, or men receive training to prepare to be in the armed forces.

      From Webster’s Dictionary:

      to form by instruction, discipline, or drill

      to teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient

      to make prepared (as by exercise) for a test of skill

      Thank you for your insightful, excellent comment. It’s so important to carefully define terms. I think it’s clear the word “train” in no way dehumanizes our children. Just signals to us that they are in need of lots of life preparation from us as parents.

  3. suzanne September 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post. Like so many others here, the timing is impeccable. We are continually teaching our children put each other’s needs above their own, so speak kindly, to defend and protect each other, etc. Thank you for posting tremendous truth from God’s Word and applying it to shaping the souls of our children.

  4. Looking back over the last 26+ years of child rearing it has been God’s grace in the words of encouragement through good friends who have loved our children and reminded us of God’s promise in them that helped immensely. Of course, you raise your own children with God’s Word and guidance, but remember to surround yourself with godly friends who will walk with you through the rough stuff and encourage you and your children as they grow. Couldn’t make it without them–God has ministered to us and encouraged us through them time and again. So thankful for all the ways he administers His grace through his Body.

  5. Priscilla Frazier September 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks so much for honoring the authority of God’s Word as being complete and truly having the answers we need, even in the littlest of struggles we face as moms. Many books, while helpful, cannot replace the simple truth from God Himself. One thing my mom did when I and my many siblings were being raised, was to read a chapter in Proverbs every morning, according to the date of the month. My own little ones are still so little, and yet my just turned 3 year old is picking up on little things here and there as we read (or try to!) a chapter, or at least a few verses of Proverbs every morning. Mostly though, it’s so instructive to me, and helps me when I’d be quick to lose my temper with my children, or some other shortcoming that can be such a discouragement when trying to “be a good mom”. In and of myself, I fall short, but in Him, I’m am able, for HE IS ABLE! Blessings to you!

  6. Kari September 23, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    There is a WONDERFUL site called wechoosevirtues.com that walks our kids (and parents) through biblical virtues like patience, perseverance, diligence, truth telling, etc….
    They have cute little characters and catchy little sayings that help teach younger kids as well as a version for teens.
    My kids school has implemented this and we are also using it at home. Our four boys (11, 11, 8, 5) LOVE them.
    There are flashcards, posters, and even cute little coloring pages all with scriptures or without. :)

    BTW: I am not paid or compensated in any way to endorse this product. I just think it’s wonderful. :)

  7. xinme September 23, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Wow — I so needed to read this. You’d think after 14 years of parenting experience, I’d have it down pat by now — but I soooo don’t. Thank you for the words of wisdom.

  8. Stephanie September 22, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    your “aha” moment about the accusing helped me so much! this same attitude has been going on at my house for months, and i haven’t known why it bothered me or the best way to handle it (other than reprimanding the one who bothered the other). can’t wait ’til it happens next so we can talk about it! thank you!!

  9. Christina September 22, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Thank you!!!!!!! I have felt SO defeated lately. I keep going; but it seems, just barely. I’ve been desperately seeking a solution; but instead of calmly trusting, I’ve been frantic and panicking. My children are 11, 9, 7, 3, and 1. My oldest is constantly grumbling and accusing and arguing. I’ve felt at such a loss as to how I need to handle this. It has scared me so much, particularly because I’ve felt like the oldest are getting to the “point of no return”. I’ve looked up verses and found some, but not for each situation. I knew God would show me in His time, and I thank you so much for following His lead and sharing this with all of us. Every one of these are issues we’ve been dealing with too. So, thanks for helping me feel like less of a failure, knowing I’m not alone in this. Even when things are out of my control, I will remember that HE is in control…I just need to submit to His leading and hear His Word.

    Much love to you!

    • Natalie September 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      Thanks Christina! Keep searching and digging and praying. This verse encourages me to keep on when no answers to my questions have come…yet.

      Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. Pr. 16:20

  10. Lacey Wilcox September 22, 2011 at 4:33 am #

    This had incredible timing. My 1 year old daughter has been going through a stage that has been really hard to understand–my husband and I have felt at such a loss so many times. We’re in a situation right now where we’re living with family, and I’ve been so guilty of trying to perform to please them. Since we’re going through a rough stage, and I’ve misplaced my identity in my performance and their approval, I’ve been incredibly discouraged and defeated, and find myself being frustrated with my precious baby girl, rather than rejoicing in her and the way the Lord is sanctifying me through her.
    Great words here!

  11. Holly September 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Thanks so much for this post. I sad down to read this at the end of a very long day with my 3. So taxing…so often not knowing how to handle situations. I felt as I read that you were expressing my heart. So…thank you for your encouraged mostly to seek the Word for the answers. Jesus and his Word gives life to the soul. Thank you.

  12. Jocelyn September 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    Wisdom! Thank you…needed that! Time to apply it :)

  13. Jessica September 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    This is just what I needed to hear. Thank you!

  14. Kirstyn September 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    This post was fabulous– I’ve had many of the same thoughts as far as trying to find guidance for parenting from the bible instead of around me. But I’ve always had a hard time trying to figure out how to deal with tattling! Thanks SO much for that example. It’s such a comfort to know that in ANY area of life God has provided the knowledge we need to do it right simply by knowing Him and His word!

  15. MinnAnn September 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Amen!

  16. KH September 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Thank you! So profound about accusing and being able to teach your kids. It’s a challenge to me and reminds me to deal the same with my marriage through prayer first. My question is how do you keep from talking about it until you have an answer? I get too emotionally wrapped up and speak before I have an answer….

    • Natalie September 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      Oh man, I know exactly what you mean! It’s SOOO hard to “zip the lip! ;) It’s much harder for me w/ my husband than with my kids.

      Several years ago, I memorized Pro. 18:3: “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” To me, that could mean, before hearing from God. Since I memorized that verse (with the intentions of teaching it to my kids for THEIR benefit!) the idea of “folly and shame” has really stopped up my mouth. I have to believe, believe, believe, that if God says it’s better to wait and be quiet, then it must be better!!!! “In quietness and trust shall be your strength.” Is. 30:15

  17. Marcy September 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    Thank you for this very timely post. I am struggling in the throws of frustration and impatience of handling my son. So this is giving me some things to ponder and pray about.

  18. Kristina September 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    THANK YOU for this! Suddenly my children (2 and 6) are accusing and bickering constantly. I’ve been struggling with how to deal with this – and I know your insights from the Bible will make an impression on the 6 year old.

    • Kirstyn September 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

      I found a verse in Proverbs awhile back that said “BICKERING!” to me– Prov. 3:30. Every time I find a verse like that it gives me a thrill. :-)

  19. Jessica M. September 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    I loved this post! What a fantastic reminder to include the Lord in all of our questions and concerns for our children!

  20. Tasha R September 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post! It is so timely for me as I struggle with those simple things with my toddler right now. If it’s not outright defiance, but instead an attitude or tendency that I don’t want my family to be about, how do I address it with a two-year-old?? This was very encouraging!

  21. Lisa Beth W. September 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Excellent insight~thank you!

  22. Becky September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Thank you for this post. Parenting is a huge sanctification process, that’s for sure! I struggle all the time with it, but am reminded that my dependency needs to be on God for the wisdom I need. In regards to tatteling, we are attempting to disciple our children in the biblical response to this. Scripture tells us that if someone has sinned against us, we need to go to that person first and confront them (in the case of small children this would look like “Caleb, please do not all me a name. That is unkind”) If “Caleb” does not respond to his rebuke and continues to call his sibling a name, then that sibling is to go and bring a 2nd person to the situation to help speak into Caleb’s life (in this case, mom or dad!) I often remind them when they come to tattle that they need to speak to that person first (now if there was some major harm done–they can come tell me right away so they can be kept safe if need be!). If that person does not repent (stop their behavior) then I am MORE than happy to come to the rescue.
    I’m trying so hard to raise our children in biblical ways. It may take more work initially, but I know God will bless us if we do it HIS way, and not our own. Grace to the humble…

    Thanks for this post!

    • Natalie September 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      Becky,

      Yes! We do the exact same thing in attempt to do godly training of our children’s ways. One other thing I have recently started telling mine is that they do not ever need to come to me telling me what others have done. However. They are ALWAYS welcome to come to me (honoringly) to tell me what they want or need! Our hearts always tend to drift toward critiquing/analyzing others, rather than ourselves. I’m hoping this approach will mirror a healthy prayer life toward God, and a healthy perspective toward their own hearts, vs. an unhealthy focus on others and their faults.

      Thanks for the great feedback! :) God bless your mothering.

  23. anne September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Thank you for this post! I am encountering new, crazy behavior from my 4 year old and am really struggling to know what to do. It is so hard, like you say, as they get older and you have a hard time thinking WHy a certain behavior (like accusing) is bad. Thank you for the reminder to go to scripture!! and to be constantly praying.

  24. Christie September 21, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    Bless you for following God’s tug to write this post. I read this right after a crazy lunchtime with my three little ones. Whew. God’s Word is refreshing. Thank you!

  25. Kristen S September 21, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Thank you for your post this morning. I know I often struggle with not feeling adequate in my parenting and not relying on God and His wisdom. Thank you for the strong reminder of the importance of God’s Word and His Spirit for our direction in everything!

  26. Rachel M. September 21, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    What a wonderful example of how to apply the Scriptures to parenting! I really appreciate this encouragement and admonition. I am struggling with the demands of training 2 and a half year old and your reminder of where to turn and how is a huge help.

  27. jordan September 21, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    what a powerful example of God’s word at work in daily life! thank you so much for sharing this…my almost-20-month old daughter is encountering new struggles and learning to “share” and it is encouraging to hear about how God is giving you wisdom as a mother and i know he will be faithful to me and my children as well!

  28. TrinaHolden September 21, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Natalie, I was weeping last night as I read “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” for the first time and realized how much I have failed so far as a parent. I went to sleep grasping at the forgiveness and hope I have in Christ, but still very grieved in my heart. I’m so glad I read your post this morning. To know I am not alone. To know the Lord is being faithful to assist you on this journey. To see an example of practical things I can do to train my children well. Thank you so much for this post.

    • Natalie September 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

      Thanks Trina. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” (or woman!) ;)

  29. Bobbi September 21, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    wow… powerful. i will need to remember this as my children grow. I recently heard a wonderful teaching from Derek Prince on the blood of Jesus. and he talks so clearly about satan the accuser of the brethren who does not need our help!

  30. Jessica September 21, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    I can’t think of anything right off hand that might help others but Thank you Thank you Thank you for this!!! I feel the same way most days! Just get to bed time! Ignore and it will go away. No, it won’t and I do know that… thanks for the reminder and the encouragement to make today a day of training from the WORD!