From the Christian Parenting Corner

Teaching Your Child about Giving Their Personal Best
by Sylvia Cochran

School just ended for the summer, but it is never too early to start thinking about the next school year ahead. In particular, teaching your child about giving her or his personal best should be at the top of the list for parents to consider at this time. It matters little if grades were stellar or merely so-so, even A+ students may not be giving their personal bests, but merely succeed at regurgitating the knowledge instilled by teachers.

As a Christian parent, you know that teaching your child about giving their personal best takes on a much deeper meaning than merely focusing on good study habits and bringing up lacking grades. As always, nothing speaks louder than a good personal example, and if you have not recently considered whether you are giving your personal best, here are some great questions for you and your child to ask yourselves:

1. Are you doing your personal best to grow intellectually?

2. Are you allowing others to spur you on to do your best?

3. Is your personal best something that is of importance to you?

Getting Off the Beaten Path

Luke 13:22-25 discusses the Lord’s admonition to make every effort to enter through what is described as a narrow door. School work, personal growth, and sports accomplishments are very much like such a narrow door. It takes effort, dedication, a clear vision of what is to be accomplished, and a lot of help. Moreover, it requires the self confidence to get off the beaten path and pursue the narrow door.

Help your child set some goals s/he wants to accomplish, and then together spend time charting a path to achievement. Academically, this might be the improvement from a C to a B; the path may involve tutoring, topic specific reading, summer school, or a host of other learning tools. At the onset, however, it requires the child to get off the beaten path and not choose what is easiest and most convenient: doing nothing.

Changing Expectations

If your child is already a straight A student, you might consider that giving their personal best is not something s/he needs to work on. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, it is the wise Christian parent who recognizes that giving their personal best is a qualitative – not quantitative! – approach to life. If s/he is doing the bare minimum and getting great grades, think of what s/he might accomplish if s/he pulled out all the stops!

Proverbs 12:28 speaks of immortality that is found at the end of the path leading to righteousness. Model to your child that while spiritual immortality is a gift that can never be earned, a good reputation or a lasting contribution to humanity is something that might be garnered by offering up their qualitative best. Mother Theresa, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Albert Einstein are still very much known – years after their deaths – for the contributions to humankind they have offered.

Enable your child to envision such a future. Once again, sit down, chart a course and help the child to follow it. This might mean figuring out what s/he wants to do in life and then researching how to go about getting an education in the field.

Quit the Blame Game

If you come home complaining how your boss is holding you back, how the coworker caused your presentation to flounder, and how the government is not letting you do whatever it is you desire to do, you are teaching your child to be a victim. When teaching your child about giving their personal best, you must model how to take responsibility for life, the actions taken, the decisions made, and the outcomes. Be quick to apologize, quick to point out when a course of action is not yielding the desired results, and quick to take responsibility for mistakes.

2 Peter 1:1-11 teaches about the natural progression of a growing faith and spiritual life. The same applies to school, work, and everyday life. Do not teach your child to say “I can’t because…” but instead help the youngster to see beyond the problems and identify means of solving them. Obstacles are real, but so are the means to overcome them.

Once your child has the vision to get off the beaten path, recognizes that it is not the achievement itself that is important but how much s/he invested to get there, and stops blaming others for problems or mistakes, you have a child who will take action, move in the right direction, enlist help when needed, and not be a victim of circumstances. In short, you will have a child who will grow up giving their personal best.

More Christian Parenting Resources:

Christianity Today

Catholic Parenting

Christian Parenting Books

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Sylvia Cochran

Sylvia is a writer, born and raised in Germany. Having been exposed to a variety of religions and traditions due to travel and study, Sylvia has been a student of the Bible for more than ten years and has for the last four years taught in small groups about Biblical principles, practical Christianity, Christian parenting, as well as the spiritual use of money.

Latest posts by Sylvia Cochran (see all) CochranChristian ParentingFrom the Christian Parenting CornerTeaching Your Child about Giving Their Personal Best by Sylvia Cochran School just ended for the summer, but it is never too early to start thinking about the next school year ahead. In particular, teaching your child about giving her or his personal best should be...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids