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Teaching children to love God, others and themselves

 

During the month of February, our thoughts turn to ways to express love. The term "love" describes an emotion that carries different degrees of strength. We can say we love cake and coffee, and we can pledge our love to our soul-mate for eternity. We love our children and would do anything to protect them. During this month, we purchase candy, flowers, and think of ways to show our love to others.

One of the strongest emotions we experience is love. From the very beginning of life, a baby must have love if they are to thrive. Throughout the Bible, we learn that God is love. For Christians, the true test of love is to have a genuine faith in our Lord.

One of the duties of parents and church teachers is to show children that God is love. Teaching them to love and respect others, to be a friend, and to know how to get along with people is vital for today … as well as the future. And, if children are taught how to love and honor their bodies, we have given them a great gift. The Bible tells us our bodies are to be respected as our bodies are made in the image of God.

Use the following ideas as to teaching children to love God, others and themselves.

Teaching children to love God

Love is one of the most powerful emotions. Parents are the "first" and "best" teacher. One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is that God loves them. He loves them unconditionally. He is forgiving, compassionate and generous in His love.

What can parents do?

Establish a Christ-centered home

Make prayer a priority with your family

Apply the Bible to daily living

Attend church as a family

Teaching children to love others

In recent years, the term "bullying" has become a by-word in our language. When a child is the victim of a bully, this mental and physical abuse can disrupt a child's education and social life. Their emotional well-being is at risk. A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics states that bullying occurs on a daily or weekly basis in 23 percent of public schools in the United States.

This increase is due in part to technology and communication. The Internet, cell phones, and social media are often used as an outlet where kids can have anonymity online and use cyber-bulling. Mature adults can usually ignore bullying, but for children and youth this is a real problem with serious consequences.

What can parents do?

Treat all people with respect

Avoid using demeaning language in the home

Keep lines of communication open between parent and child

Seek professional help when needed

Pray for your children and let them hear you pray.

Teaching children to love themselves

Suicide is on the increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports from 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the United States. (Latest data as of 2017)

A 2017 biannual Kentucky Incentive for Prevention, reported that 8.2 percent of high school sophomores had attempted suicide in the past year. And, 6th graders the rate was 4.2 percent.

For some parents, whose children have taken their own lives, there is no explanation. For others, there were relationship problems, arguments with family and friends, and boyfriend/girlfriend issues in the older group. In the United States, more males (children under 13) who kill themselves are boys; 76 percent of those who died in 1999-2015 were males. However, girls attempt suicide more frequently. Between 1999-2015 at least 1,300 children, ages 5-12, took their own lives. And the number of children/youth ages 5-12 hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or actions has doubled over the last decade.

What can parents do?

Recognize warning signs

Know your child/youth's friend

Volunteer to work with community, church, sports groups for your child

Identify risk factors

Promote protective factors

Talk to kids

Seek mental health service, if needed (WR)

Carolyn Tomlin writes for the Christian magazine market. She teaches the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.

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