One of the most important qualities you can teach your children is how to be good listeners.
You have to teach them, because most children don’t come out of the womb good at that. Either they don’t know who to listen to or they don’t know how to listen well. Sometimes it is a little bit of both. That’s part of why we are there as parents. Your church’s Sunday services provide an opportunity for you to help your children develop this life-changing skill.
What can you do?
Here are 7 suggestions:
- Don’t wait for Sunday to start.
One of the best times to work on listening with your children is in family devotions. Show them that the Bible is valuable. Help them practice listening well. It’s a skill and it needs to be developed.
- Expect them to listen.
There are two common mistakes parents often make. Either their expectations are way too high, or they are way too low. Your child is not an adult yet. And the truth is many adults don’t listen that well. So, make sure your expectations are age appropriate. But, have expectations. They can learn and they can learn more and much earlier than many people think.
- Tell them to listen.
Before the service begins gently and specifically explain your expectations. Go beyond just, “listen.” Try to give some guidelines for what listening will look like. It’s not fair for you to be disappointed in them for not doing something you didn’t explain to them. As you help them know how to listen, also, remind them why.
- Show them how to listen.
It’s been amazing coming back to the States and seeing how quickly my children came to love basketball. You know one big reason they love basketball? Because they are watching me love basketball! It doesn’t make sense to expect your children to listen well if they aren’t seeing you listen well.
- Encourage them for how they did well listening.
It’s tempting to be the kind of person who only speaks when there is an error being made. It’s also very discouraging. Don’t assume they know you are pleased with how they listened in church. Find creative ways to encourage them for the right attitudes and behaviors.
6. Pray with them that God would help them listen.
This is not just about being a good student. This is about a person’s relationship with God. Teach them how to ask God for help to do what is really impossible for them to do by themselves.
7. Follow up by asking questions sometime after the message.
So James warns us about being hearers of the Word only and not doers. You can help your children by teaching them how to do something with the message throughout the week. You might ask them on Monday evening to get out their notes and explain the sermon from their notes. You might listen to the sermon yourself and write down a list of questions as you do that you can ask your children later to see how well they listened. And on a weekly basis, you can ask them the very important question, so how can this sermon help us love Jesus or obey Jesus or be different this week?