By Jaclyn, contributing writer
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23
I write a lot about children’s behavior. I’m usually writing about how to best support them through diet and nutrition, but there’s a lot more we can do to raise healthy, happy kids.
Not only do I strive to support my children physically through proper nutrition, but I also support them spiritually.
I pray for and with my kids, and I teach them how to pray.
I empower my kids to live a Christ-centered life by teaching them scripture.
I emphasize the importance of behaving in a Christian way.
It can be confusing or feel overbearing to kids to have lots of rules. Instead, I like to really focus on my children’s hearts and teach them why we behave a certain way. Why it’s inappropriate to speak rudely to one another. Why it’s essential we ask each other for forgiveness and grant each other forgiveness. Why our behavior should reflect that we love Jesus.
How to Teach Your Kids About the Fruits of the Spirit
Kids do best with concrete ideas and visuals, and they learn best through repetition. By posting the fruits of the Spirit in your home, you can help your kids remember them, and direct them to them when there’s a problem.
I often use the fruits of the Spirit to remind my children how I expect them to behave. When we’re having a rough time, I gather everyone up on the rug and together we call out the fruits of the spirit. I ask “Who can tell me a fruit of the Spirit?” And sure enough, one by one, they call them out: “love!” “peace!” “joy!” “patience!” “faithfulness!” “kindness!” “goodness!” “gentleness!” and my favorite, “self control!”
I remind them these are the types of behavior I expect from them, and we’re all able to behave better after that reminder.
Since I’ve taught my kids about the fruits of the Spirit, I can refer back to them when behavioral problems strike. I especially tend to emphasize self control.
For instance, when one of them acts out in anger, hits, or takes something from someone, I can ask them “are you showing self control?” or “was that kind or gentle?” and they know just what I’m talking about and are reminded of the types of behaviors we do want to have.
Again, I don’t just have rules that my boys have to follow, but I care about how they treat one another and that their behavior is reflective of their love for Jesus.
Imagine if we all behaved in such a way that we were known by our joy, peace, and kindness! That’s how I want my children to behave.
The bible has quite a lot to say about bearing fruit. Consider these verses:
“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” -Matthew 5:16-20
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” -John 15:16
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” -James 3:17
It’s about their hearts
We are known by our fruits- our behavior, our thoughts, our words and actions. I know my boys love Jesus. They know we have rules. But if I make their behavior about their relationship with Jesus, then the behaviors I expect from them are more likely to reflect their love for Jesus.
However, if I don’t emphasize their relationship with the Lord, and we ignore it in our home, pretty soon their behavior is reflecting other, uglier fruits: selfishness, anger, and sadness, and there is chaos in our home. I begin falling back on punishment instead of gentle discipline.
I also strive to ensure that my behavior towards my boys and others is reflective of my relationship with the Lord. I want to model love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control for my kids as well.
I don’t do it perfectly, or even well, all the time, but when I’m modeling the fruits of the Spirit, my boys are much more likely to behave accordingly.
If you want to encourage your kids to have fruits of the Spirit behavior, here’s a printable you can hang to help everyone remember! (This pdf is for an 8 X 10.)
How Do You Teach Your Children About the Fruits of the Spirit? Do You Find it Helpful for How They Treat Others?
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