Teach Kids to Add Energy to Family Life

Some children have the ability to suck the energy right out of family life. These children are demanding of your time, need a lot of correction, and seem to be magnets for conflict. They’re often emotionally explosive but almost always drain energy out of parents and other family members.

Joanne Miller, RN, BSN

Unfortunately these children develop a negative view of themselves based on the high amount of negative feedback they receive. These kids often don’t respond well to the typical ideas you read in parenting books. They need an individualized plan that focuses on the heart and they often benefit from a more positive approach, learning how to see the needs of others, learning to give and contribute.

An Idea to Get Things Moving

Here’s one idea you might find helpful as you guide your child. It’s actually God’s idea. He calls it “honor.” One aspect of honor is to consider others and their needs. Another dimension is to see what needs to be done and do it without being asked. Teaching these principles gives children practical ways to add energy back into family life.

The term “honor” describes the process of thinking of others above yourself. Honor is important in a family. God commands honor to be practiced at home. Ephesians 6:2-3 says, ” ‘Honor your father and mother’ which is the first commandment with a promise ‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ ” Those verses teach that honor learned at home has ramifications for life. In fact, we would say that God has hidden within honor the secret ingredients people need to be successful.

Honor has rich meaning for parents and children. It can give direction in many of the frustrating moments you experience. In fact, every form of selfishness has an honor-based solution.

A Practical Definition on Honor

Here’s how we define honor. Honor is treating people as special, doing more than what’s expected, and having a good attitude. Feel free to use this definition or make up your own. The point is that honor changes the way parents relate to their children, the way children relate to each other, and the way children relate to their parents. Obedience gets the job done, but honor addresses the way people relate in that process.

If Jack gets people riled up each afternoon before dinner, set an appointment with him at 4:00 pm for several days in a row and ask him to look for three things he can do to add to family life. He may decorate the dinner table, encourage his brother, or prepare something nice for Dad’s arrival home.

If Jack continually antagonizes his sister, you might tell him that he needs to think of three honoring things to do for her before he’s free to play. Remember, don’t tell him exactly what he needs to do. If you decide what Jack needs to do and tell him to do it, that’s obedience. When Jack chooses, that’s honor. Honor treats people as special and does more than what’s expected. Jack needs to learn how to add energy to family life instead of taking it away.

The Key is Initiative

Honor requires initiative by adding something extra or doing something that needs to be done. Many children wait for others to tell them what to do. It’s hard to teach kids to take initiative because the very act of telling them seems to take the initiative away. That’s why you may require your child to do something but not give the specifics. Have your child “Go take a look and see what needs to be done.” You want to help him to start seeing a need or solving a problem for himself.

Honor contains the idea of doing more than what’s expected. That means seeing what needs to be done and doing it, and solving problems instead of leaving them for others. One family had a sign in their kitchen that read:

If it’s broken, fix it.
If it’s empty, fill it up.
If it’s open, shut it.
If it’s out, put it away.
If it’s messy, clean it up.
If you can’t, then report it.
That’s honor.

Honor means that everyone contributes to family life. In fact, you may ask a child to go around the house and look for one job that needs to be done and do it, and then report back to you. These kinds of discussions and exercises will help children think outside of themselves and discover that they have a responsibility to the family. They can contribute to family life by just seeing something that needs to be done and doing it.

Honor is Hardest in the Family

People tend to take for granted those they’re closest to. It was Jesus who said, “Only in their own towns, among their relatives and in their own homes is a prophet without honor.” (Mark 6:4) The family can be a place where people take each other for granted. Learning honor is just the solution kids need. Hidden within honor are the secret ingredients that make people more productive in relationships.

You’re already honoring your kids in a number of ways although you might not be using the term. Now you might say to your daughter, “I went shopping today and I bought your favorite ice cream. I just wanted to honor you.” Then later you can use the same word to describe how you’d like your daughter to treat you with a better attitude when you give her an instruction.

One way parents can teach children honor is to include it in the instruction process. You might say to your child, “I’d like you to obey me by setting the table, then I want you to think of something extra to do to surprise me. That’s showing honor. You choose; it’s up to you. Report to me when you’re done and I’ll check your work.”

You can use the concept of honor in correction or when things are going well. You can use it when you teach your children about money, time, and other resources and you can teach it when conflict comes around. Another way to teach honor is on special occasions when someone wins a contest or earns a certificate. You may show honor by giving that person a fancy place at the table or by decorating his or her bedroom door.

Honor Provides a Fresh Approach

Honor is fun. It’s like oil in a machine. It gets work done with less friction and less heat. Every family needs honor. It’s great when thing are going well and essential when family relationships are strained. Work on it whether your kids are preschoolers or teens. It’ll change the way your family relates.

To learn more about teaching honor in your home, consider the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN BSN. It’s available in paperback, as an eBook, and as an audiobook. Add more ways to teach honor when you consider The Honor Special, with the Kids Honor Club and an audio session included. Honor changes people and it changes families. Find was to grow in honor today!

  • B.J. Meurer
    Posted at 07:02h, 17 December Reply

    We’ve used honor with our own kids for many years and have seen it transform family life in many positive ways. It has been key for teaching our kids what it means to follow Jesus, strengthening sibling relationships, and making sure we get things done with the right attitude of the heart. I’ve also seen it work in families I’ve coached as well. The book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes In You and Your Kids is a must read for any parent. The other honor materials like Honor Club really help you teach this concept to your kids as well.

  • Billie
    Posted at 21:30h, 17 December Reply

    Thank you for this article!!

  • scott turansky
    Posted at 10:13h, 18 December Reply

    BJ, thanks for taking time to comment here. I’m grateful.

  • scott turansky
    Posted at 10:14h, 18 December Reply

    Billie, You are welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  • Lee Ann Mancini
    Posted at 10:44h, 18 December Reply

    Thank you for this informative post. It’s always a good thing to take turns honoring a family member. When children receive honor, they learn the positive affect it has on them, and in turn will want to do the same for others.

  • scott turansky
    Posted at 11:47h, 22 December Reply

    Lee Ann, thank you for your comment. Honor is one of those transforming ideas that God provided for us. It certainly transfers to others. When we learn to be honoring there’s this internal motivation to continue on an do more.

  • Sandy Hill
    Posted at 10:58h, 22 February Reply

    What a powerful use of the word “HONOR.” I’ve always tried to live by the motto “always leave things better than you found them.” Now I have an official name for it!! I will definitely use this going forward with my own family. So easy to see how this one word will attract and bring so much positive energy into the home.

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