Tip #2: How do we give praise or reproof to our children?


In my Tips for Moms series, I want to share how our family dealt with giving praise or reproof to our children. One thing that was vital to us was that we do or say NOTHING that would negate the grace of God to our children’s burgeoning faith. If you know my husband and I at all, you know that we talk about EVERYTHING. Long before we had children we discussed the familiar practice of parents saying to their toddlers: Good Girl/Good Boy or Bad Girl/Bad Boy.

speaking praise

This may sound nit-picky but we chose to never use those phrases. We didn’t want our evaluation of who they were as people to be based on their actions. As we taught our children about grace and the redemptive work of the cross, we wanted them to be absolutely confident in their new nature. When we are saved, we are new creatures; creatures redeemed and cleansed from the penalty of the Law. Sometimes little throw away comments we make can undo teachings we give to our children. It is the thoughtless (as in not thinking) slips of the tongue that have deep impacts on our children’s lives, thoughts and beliefs.

So, we said instead, “That was a good thing you did!” or “No, honey, that was a bad job.” It is still important to praise and reprove their actions, but we tied the praise/reproof to the action alone and not to who they were.

What difference does it make?

Well, I’m not even sure that it made a huge difference for them. But I know every time I commented on their behavior rather than their nature, it reinforced in me God’s grace and the fulness of His gift of new life. When I was careful how I spoke to my children, I actually encouraged my own heart in the truth of God’s Word and of His love for me.

I’m trusting that if it made a difference in MY life, it had the desired effect on my children’s as well. I know I muffed it in many ways in raising my children. But I pray that this one practice had a beneficial and lasting outcome in their lives.

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