Understanding Your Child’s Needs
Have you ever wished that parenting came with a manual? Imagine that glorious day in the hospital when you had your first baby. You name her Rachel Jones, After baby arrives you rest for awhile. The next day you and baby are anxiously awaiting to be released to go home. The doctor comes in, while thumbing through some books in his arms he says “Let me see here, Robert, Julie, James, oh, here we go, Rachel”. He hands it to you and says, ” Mrs. Jones, here is your parenting manual made up specifically for Rachel Jones. It will guide you through her whole life, informing you of God’s great plan for her life, and all the needs she will have and how to meet them”. Wow, it sounds so wonderful!
But, God HAS given us many tools to become part of our manual. Number one is His Word. The Bible is clear about the need for every human being to receive love, affection and affirmation. We see this in the Baptism of Jesus. God said to His Son, “You are my Son (acceptance), whom I love (affection), in whom I am well pleased” (affirmation). If Jesus needed to hear this, how much more do each of us.
His Word also says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”. This tells us much. If we want our children to grow up thinking of others first, being successful in career and family, and serving God with all their heart, then parents must model these things in their own home. Remember that children are “trained” more from what they see than what they hear.
We also see promises in the Word of God over our children, so we pray daily for them and trust God that He will accomplish His will for them. Trusting God, means dealing with the fears that we sometimes have. Get rid of them by replacing them with faith, love, and hope (time in God’s Word and His presence will produce these things). There are instructions in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 for parents to teach their children to honor and obey them. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and the “love of Christ compels us to serve Him”. So it is with the husbands love for his wife and children. The servant type love of Christ, displayed by a husband and father, compels the family to follow his leadership. Wives are told to respect/prefer their husbands. Each are called to submit one to another. These are all very important if you want your children to obey and respect you as parents. (Single parents: God is your helper, receive His love. honor Him in your home, and prefer His ways over the worlds)
There must be love in the house between parents for the children to be secure in their love. Also, it says for fathers not to exasperate their children. Exasperation happens when parent is expecting more out of child than they understand, or not spending time with them in relationship but scolding them consistently, or speaking down to them or the other parent, or by living inconsistent with what they teach, or by not being consistent with rules and discipline, or most of all by never showing acceptance, love, or affection. Rules without relationship will create rebellion. Structure and consistency, not legalism and domination. Parents make a note to yourself “my peace comes from the Lord in me, not from everyone around me agreeing or obeying”, then hold your peace so you can respond to each moment in love and not offense. “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God”.
Another great tool to add to that manual is the understanding of each child’s unique temperament. They each have different needs in the areas of socialization, intellect, taking on responsibility, decision making, and giving and recieving love and affection. Thankfully we can test children at age 7 or 8, depending on the child’s level of understanding. We use the Arno Profile System, which is the most in-depth analysis available, and the only one that identifies the fifth temperament.
From this analysis you can make a chart on your child’s needs that looks something like this:
Joey needs lots of socialization and attention – two way conversation with family and others.
Johnny needs quiet time alone each day – but may need encouragement to not isolate for long periods of time
Gail is motivated by rewards and punishment.
Joey is not, more self motivated.
Joey needs to learn how to trust God when making decisions – teach him to trust the leading of God at an early age to avoid the confusion and dependency on the wrong people which is common to this temperament.
Gail needs lots of physical affection and quality time spent with her by family members and close friendships – (this will decrease her chance of going out into the world looking for affection in the wrong places).
Johnny receives love from things being done for him or given to him. He also gives love that way, so be sure to receive it with enthusiasm. (He still needs affection, but not as constant as Gail needs)
As you can see having this understanding can be a great help in accepting each child for who they are, and increasing both parents ability to step out in sacrificial love to be used by God to meet the needs of their child. Remember: Each parent has their own temperament, as well. This means you will tend to do with your child according to what your needs are, and possibly miss for years why you and your child are not connecting. That is not God’s plan. His plan is to give you all the wisdom you and your children need.
If you have further interest in temperament analysis for you and your family please contact Lisa Winchell, M.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling at:
Parenting at It’s Best by Fred A. Hartley III
The Key to your Child’s Heart by Gary Smalley