Should parents lower the bar? (part 3)

Parents should respond no differently if we are to respond to our children in the same way that God deals with His people. For example, if a parent’s standard for politeness involves using words like “please” and “thank you,” then the parent should avoid giving into the child’s demand for a particular object without requiring the child to use those words. In other words, the bar should not be lowered simply because the child fails to attain to the standard by saying “please” and “thank you” when asking for something. Rather, the parent should hold the bar in place and encourage the child to meet it.

Depending upon the age of the child, the parent could use a gentle verbal reminder by asking the child, “Honey, I understand that you want ____, but what is the polite way to ask for ____?” and not give the child the object until the standard is met. The parent could use visual reminders by posting signs around the home or modeling the standard for the child by using “please” and “thank you” him/herself.

Also, if there is someone or something that inhibits the child’s compliance in this area (i.e. if the child is distracted with a TV program, toy, and/or sibling), then consider removing it or withholding it from the child for the time being (to help guard the child from stumbling in this area and failing to meet the standard) until the child regains focus and uses the appropriate wording. Also, if the child is picking up bad manners from friends, who don’t use words like “please” and “thank you,” then consider removing the child from their company until the child shows his ability to consistently improve in this area over a period of time despite their influences. (NOTE: This actually makes for a great opportunity to build discernment in the child by helping him to see the impact that his external influences are making on his own behavior/attitude.)

Finally, if the child does meet the standard, then bless that child with verbal affirmation (ex. “Honey, thank you for using your manners. Mommy is so proud of you for saying ‘please’.”) and/or a treat of some kind (ex. a special privilege, a hug, an M&M, whatever might communicate your pleasure with the child’s response). In like manner, if the child fails to meet the standard, then do not withhold some manner of discipline from the child to discourage him from repeating that same mistake again in the future (ex. the rod, removal of a privilege, denying the child the requested item until he uses the proper terminology, etc.).

God provides parents with a great model in the way He relates to His people. I think we would do well to heed His example.


About Elizabeth

I am a sinner, saved by grace striving to increase in the knowledge of my Savior and His precious Word each day. The reader should know that there are a few presuppositions with which I approach this blog: 1) I believe in the biblical gospel, which basically purports that all mankind is born under the curse of sin (due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden). Therefore, man is separated from God and can have no relationship with God because He is perfectly holy, not even able to look upon sin. Unfortunately, God is also perfectly just and must not only separate Himself from sin, but must also punish it. In order to reconcile man to Himself, God, the Father, sent God, the Son, down to earth to live as a man and take our sins upon Himself on the cross. While on the cross, God, the Son, bore the full weight of the wrath of God, the Father, against our sins in order that we who believe in Him might be set free from the curse of our sin. God, the Son, Jesus Christ, died as a propitiation for our sin in order to appease God, the Father's, holy and just character, redeem us from sin, and reconcile those who believe in this gospel to God, the Father. 2) I am primarily writing to those who already believe in this biblical gospel. In other words, this blog is not focused on evangelizing the lost, but edifying believers. 3) I believe that the Christian Bible is the very word of God. Therefore, it is completely inerrant, infallible, sufficient, and authoritative in the life of a believer.
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