You may have heard about the incident that occurred a while back aboard a plane preparing for takeoff. A Massachusetts couple had trouble with their 3-year-old daughter. She did not want to get buckled into her seat but was crying and thrashing around. She was "out of control"!
An airline representative said the crew waited 15 minutes for the couple to get control of their child. The parents did not succeed, so the airline had to ask the family to get off the plane.
Why are there so many children today who are out of control?
Some say it is caused by all the sugar and dyes in the food the children consume. Indeed, studies suggest that a poor diet can contribute to behavioral problems. However, could it be that some parents simply don't know how to handle their children or are embarrassed by the scene it could cause in public?
Could This Happen to Me?
Have we wondered, "Could this happen to our family?" Would we have been able to control our child in the airplane situation described above?
Did God intend for children to be out of control or for children to be in control of their parents?
Proverbs 17:25 Proverbs 17:25A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bore him.
American King James Version×states, "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him." Throughout the Bible we find admonition and instruction given regarding children.
Is our child out of control? Do we want to do something about it? Of course, all children act up now and then, but it is our duty to God, our neighbors, our children and ourselves to do something about it.
The Challenge of Church
There is a place where almost all parents seem to have difficulties in controlling their children. This place is church. We may not know what to do with our children at that time, and so the tendency is to let them rule us. We may be afraid to correct our children because we don't want to disturb others or be embarrassed if they don't respond to us. However, we can end up disturbing others in the way we handle the situation every Sabbath.
Even a difficult child can be taught to sit and be quiet. We should teach this diligently at home just as we should be teaching them diligently every word of God (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Deuteronomy 6:6-9  And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
 And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
 And you shall write them on the posts of your house, and on your gates.
American King James Version×).
With my own children I learned the importance of practicing at home during the week. There were many times I put my son down on a blanket and taught him to stay on it while I listened to the radio or TV for a certain amount of time. You can start with a short period of time and work up to longer periods.
I gave him toys to play with and taught him that he needed to be quiet during this time. (I would give him special toys at church that he didn't play with at home so that he was excited to come to church.)
I would get his attention and put my finger to my lips and "shush" him quietly. We have to make sure we don't end up disturbing people in our attempt to quiet our child.
A common mistake many of us make is taking our screaming child out of services without gently covering his or her mouth, which can really disturb those around us.
I remember when my daughter was young and at the particular stage when she was finding her voice. She would want to let out a high, piercing scream! Sound familiar?
We were in a restaurant one time, and something had to be done fast. My husband took his hand and held her chin up to where it closed her mouth so that she couldn't scream, and he firmly but quietly said, "No!" It took a couple of those episodes to break her from that habit.
Another mistake that we commonly make is allowing our children to feel like they are getting their way by taking them out of church services. When we take our children out, they should know that they are in trouble. They should not want to be taken out of a church service. A child should associate that with correction.
Teaching our children to be "in control" is possible! We just need to find the right methods that work with our individual child. It takes a plan, hard work (no one ever said it would be easy) and consistency. Consistency can't be emphasized enough. This is usually where we all fall short the most because it takes time and patience.
If we really want to be in control of our children but don't know where to turn, we can ask other parents who have "been there and done that." Many parents would be happy to share stories of how they learned to teach their children, or they can steer you in the right direction to find help.
There are also plenty of good books on the subject of child rearing. We may be dealing with a difficult child who has learning disabilities. You can do research to find effective ways to help them. It can be challenging, I know; I've been there. But I'm happy to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Another way to seek help is to pray about it. We may sometimes forget that God really cares about our situation, and He wants us to find the answers. I can't tell you how many times God came to my rescue when I asked for His help.
Another program I would like to mention is one that many pastors have begun to offer. It is called "Growing Kids God's Way." Consider asking your minister about it if you don't currently have such a program in your area.
Remember, having our child in control is a blessing, and it can be a blessing to others to see our child's example of a good and obedient nature.
For more on this subject, see the article "Our Children and Sabbath Services" by Doug Horchak in the November 2005 issue (www.ucg.org/un/un0511/childrensabbath.htm). UN
Jeannie Evans is the wife of Eric Evans, pastor of the Kingsport and Knoxville, Tennessee, and London, Kentucky, congregations.
If You're Not a Parent: How the Congregation Can Help
Many years ago, the phrase "We Are Family" was touted within the Church. The fact is, we are family. As such, we should greatly value the blessing that little children are—to the entire congregation.
All of us as brethren in a local congregation need to be loving and patient with each other. This includes patience with the parents who are teaching and training their precious little children. Rather than criticizing or judging, offering to help a single mother or parents who have small children while at church can be a real service and example of love.
Ways We Can Give Encouragement to Our Children
• Look for opportunities, large and small, to tell your child through word and action that you are proud of him or her. We must correct when needed, but strive to eliminate unnecessary negative comments.
• Smile often at your child! This simple effort sends the message to your child that he or she makes you happy and is appreciated and loved.
• Catch your child being good. Don't just take the position that he or she is supposed to be good. Let your child know that you noticed him or her being good. This is not only an excellent way to encourage appropriate behavior, but it also boosts a child's self-esteem to know that he or she is doing something right and you appreciate it.
• Don't overlook the opportunities to give a pat on the back, a quick squeeze or an arm around their shoulders. These are sure ways to demonstrate your approval and encouragement.
Specific Positive Statements
Here are specific positive statements that you can incorporate in dealing with your children. Realize though that children can see through insincerity. They don't like hypocrisy. They want a "straight shooter."
Your encouragement must be sincere. If it is not, it will "ring hollow" over time. You must be sincere or these comments will not reap the rich reward they can produce. Never use these messages sarcastically or you will damage their effectiveness and your child won't trust you when you mean them. Use them often, whenever they are appropriate.
• I knew you could do it!
• You're doing a great job!
• I'm proud of the way you are sticking to this!
• I know this is hard; you're really working at it!
• You've made a lot of progress!
• Thanks for picking up those books. You are such a big helper! I really appreciate it!
• It was very nice of you to help the younger boy today; I'm really proud of you!
Children thrive on positive attention. Children need to feel loved and appreciated. Unfortunately, many parents find it is easier to provide negative feedback than positive feedback.
—Britton M. Taylor