Many times, a personal story sheds a brighter light on the subject than moralizing. Rather than telling a child facing a question or decision what to do, telling them a story from your own life can be much more helpful. It helps them think creatively and gives them the confidence that they can come to their own solutions.
When children raise questions, our ideal response is to hear them out and invite more dialog. Lisa Miller uses something like: “You bring such important questions to the family;” or “When I was a child I wondered that, too. I am so happy you are sharing these thoughts with me.”
Consider what spiritual stories you can tell the children in your life.
A friend of mine (mother of three teens) who does this says, “It could be about a time you failed, a time you needed God, a time you doubted God, a time you were surprised by something you couldn’t explain, a time when you sensed God communicating something to you. And consider what beliefs of yours came out of these experiences.”
Questions to help adults remember our spiritual stories we can share with kids:
- What beliefs define your decision-making process?
- What do you believe about how you will relate to people? Strangers, enemies, wrongdoers, immediate family, etc.
- How do you relate to God?
- When have you had times of doubt when God felt very far away?
- What/who are your trusted sources that informed your spiritual progression, growth and wisdom?
- What gives your life purpose and meaning?
- How did you arrive at your present spiritual place?
Our spiritual stories don’t have to be noble or positive. The power comes from it being real and being yours.
Note: Some of the ideas for questions were inspired by Tom Rapsas on StoryCorps.
- Tell kids your spiritual story. They’re still forming a moral compass and our experiences inspire. Click to Tweet
- Seven questions here that help adults remember our spiritual stories we can share with kids.
3rd in a series about a valuable, simple tool for teaching kids decision-making. The tool is C.H.O.O.S.E. and today’s big idea is to know and follow moral principles. A kid’s morals become their treasure chest of wisdom and guidance.
A child’s treasure chest
A child’s treasures can include their most special toys, a ribbon or trophy won at a swim meet, photos of the most special people and times in their lives. Many of a child’s treasures wouldn’t bring very much money if sold, but they bring something much more valuable: reminders of the best parts of the child’s life. A child’s morals are treasures of great value.
Conversation Starter: A camping story for kids
Imagine you are in the woods camping with your family, having a great time. In fact, you are having so much fun you don’t realize you are wandering deeper and deeper into the woods. Suddenly, it’s dark and you realize you’re lost! Now it’s very dark and you can’t see anything! How do you feel? (scared, alone) After awhile, you look up and see a light coming toward you. You hear your dad calling your name! You go toward the light until you meet your parents, and all of you follow the path back to camp. Now how do you feel? (relieved, safe) You were safe because the light showed you where to go in the darkness!
Four ethical questions can be like a light to children when they’re making a decision:
- Will it hurt me or someone else? If your brainstorming list of options includes ones that will hurt you, cross them off. Same with an option to hurt someone else—hitting, telling lies about them, stealing their things. You can find other ways to deal with your decision.
- Is there something beyond my control? That’s a real important question, because many times the choice we want to make is not within our power. For example, if your parents are getting a divorce, your first choice would probably be to have them get back together. But that is a choice your parents must make and is completely beyond your control. As hard as it may be, you need to cross it off your list of choices.
- How does it feel inside? If a choice feels wrong, cross it off your list. Be careful, though. Some choices may feel uncomfortable, but deep down inside we know they are wise—like choosing to tell the truth instead of covering up with lie. That’s different from feeling uncomfortable because we know it’s wrong—like letting your friend talk you into shoplifting, or letting someone touch you in ways you don’t want to be touched.
- Who can help me choose? Keep a list of people you can talk to whenever you feel confused or just don’t know what to do. (Some kids may include prayer or religious teachings sources of help.)
(Linda Sibley designed the CHOOSE tool and she is excited I’m sharing it here.)
- A child’s morals are treasures of great value, especially when used to make decisions. Read more. Click to Tweet
- 4 moral questions kids can use when making a difficult choice. Read more. Click to Tweet