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Are They Persuaded?

September 1, 2011

     Today I enjoyed sitting in Sharon Watson’s writing class.  She was skillfully teaching about writing persuasion papers.  She made the statement that when you persuade someone that it should change their belief and their behavior. 

     Persuasion is to win over to a belief or course of action.

     How are we training our children?  Today I am going to suggest the persuasion method, so grab a pen and paper because school is in.

     It is actually quite interesting and applicable to examine how to persuade someone.  We all desire that our children are not only obedient but that they are also persuaded to do the right thing.  When my oldest son was young my goal for his behavior was obedience.  Then one day I realized that he said the correct thing and did what I required but his heart was far from me.  I only had achieved half of the goal.  I had changed his action but not his belief.

     I realized that if we continued on this path, I may have an obedient child, possibly all the way through high school, but the chances were very strong that once he went to college or left home he would rebel.   It was then that I sought to persuade and not only demand obedience.  I wanted the correct action but I wanted a change in belief and heart to go with that action.  I wanted him to not only do what I asked, but I wanted him to do it because he wanted to do it.

     As Sharon gave examples of poorly written persuasion letters, it made me think about how we try to persuade our children poorly at times also.

     When writing a persuasive paper or letter, you should not insult the person you are trying to persuade.  Dear Mama, we too should never insult our children.  That may seem like an obvious statement but in the heat of the moment it sometimes slips out.  Like I mentioned yesterday, a lack of time to deal with the situation calmly and unrushed helps prevent this from happening.

     In writing and parenting alike you should not rant and rave.  Nothing seems to clog a child’s ears faster than a screaming Mama.  Don’t verbally bash them over the head repeating your point over and over.  Mama, take a time out.  Take a deep breath, say a prayer then give it another shot.

     Threatening may give you the desired obedience, but it will not change their beliefs.  You want them to clean their room, not just so they can hang out with friends but because they also want to clean it.

     Do not be vague.  Make sure they know what you are talking about.  Make yourself clear and make sure you also understand what they are saying.  Sometimes it takes a while to really understand each other.  Make the time to listen and to be clear with what you desire from them.

  It is always good to explain your reasoning and tell them what you believe; but ultimately there is a bottom line.  That bottom line always needs to be The Word of God.  It does not matter what your child thinks, what society says or what others are doing.  What matters is, what does God say about the matter?  If God’s word is your gauge then there will not be any varying from day to day, year to year or situation to situation.

     Finally, stick with it.  You can tell when their heart softens and when they believe also.  Persuasion is not a sprint.  At times it feels like a marathon.  So take the time to hang in there.  Do not accept a, “Yes Maam,”  with a heart that does not agree.

     I still have days when I resort to the famous, “Just do it because I said so!” But take the time to train and change their hearts.  When they are persuaded you will hopefully not have to revisit that issue again.

     If you are struggling with a strong willed child, a revision of the schedule may be in order.  Rome was not built in a day and strong wills are not persuaded in 5 minutes.  Know that our lives are made of seasons.  If you are in a season of poor behavior, then for that season you may want behavior to be your main focus and not outside activities.  You may miss a season of sports but you will gain a willing and behaving child.

     So dear Mama, are you persuaded?  Let’s train our children and gain their hearts too.

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     I do want to point out that this is only one aspect of child training.  There are many other aspects to know and consider.  But today my focus was only on persuasion.

Sharon Watson is the author of “Jump In” Apologia Educational Ministries’ middle school writing curriculum and “Writing Fiction in High School:  Bringing Your Stories to Life.”

Check out her web site

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 9:18 am

    Hi, Debbie! I absolutely love your point that persuading someone is not a sprint; it is a marathon! People do not change their minds about a dearly held idea after hearing an opposing view once. It takes time, and it takes hearing the opposing view often over a period of time.

    So, what a blessing it is that God sticks us in families. That way, our children can hear the Good News and our godly worldviews over and over, being persuaded to our beliefs by our respect for the beliefs, our children, and for the God we serve.

    You may have absorbed more of the material yesterday than my students did!

    Thanks for the endorsement!

  2. Jennifer permalink
    September 1, 2011 11:26 pm

    Hey there, I just finished studying what God’s word has to say about winning the heart of our child and not just their actions. I used the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart to help me work through this. Just thought I would pass this resource on if others want to know more about training the hearts of our children.

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