There is a fine line between raising kids who use caution and raising fearful kids. Lord knows I have messed up in this area in the past. Sometimes we learn the hard way, and sometimes we get it right. We would really like our children not to have to learn the hard way. That is why practicing caution should be on our radar when it comes to our kids. It can be tricky, but you surely can learn steps on how to help your child understand when to use caution in their life.
This post is part of the Building Virtues in Your Children Series
The hard thing for me in teaching my kids when and how to use caution is the fact that I grew up differently. Some things that are clear as day to me aren’t to my kids. We want to raise our children in a better environment. Where we have had to be cautious by our environment while we were growing up, our kids will have to be taught to be cautious through awareness and precaution.
I grew up in the streets of New York, and it was rough. As I grew older, because of some really horrible people I met along the way, it became hard for me to trust people. Someone said to me that not trusting people was out of fear, but that may be the case. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t love people or that I treat people poorly. I just know that God said:
The heart is desperately wicked, who could know it. Therefore, I don’t want to know just how wicked their hearts can get.
I feel like every Christian is one mistake of making a mistake they will forever regret or not recover from. If that is true for us, then how true is that for people who aren’t saved? Those who don’t know the Lord? I am sure I sound pretty paranoid.
I have grown up, and my close family and friends have grown up, around some pretty horrific things. How can we not be cautious with our children?
One day my friend asked if I could (well, we are no longer friends) watch her kids for the weekend while she and her husband had a weekend away. I watched another pair of kids as well. I don’t really have kids sleepover and don’t allow my kids to sleepover anywhere. So I wanted to help and let my kiddos have people over. There is only one issue. There were three teenage boys, and I have a teenage girl (13), and two other teen girls that were also sleeping over (13). There were A LOT of kids over.
So me being aware that teenagers can very well be tempted, I asked my daughter and her friends to lock the room door while they slept until the morning. I actually didn’t think anything bad about it. I just wanted to take a precaution.
Apparently, their mother heard I did this and accused me of instilling fear in the girls. She didn’t want to allow fear into the lives of her kids, she said. She trusted the Lord enough. She gave her kids a lot of freedom, and we differed in that area. I had not meant to make the girls fearful, I just wanted to protect the kids as much as I could while they were under my guidance and roof.
I understand that I can put up barriers around my children and bad things may happen anyway. I get it. BUT… if something happens, it won’t be because I didn’t try my best to protect them.
It all brings me to this. How do we raise children to use caution in life, yet not instill a fear in them where they are frightful of everything? For me, it is a fine line. Of course, I have and will still make mistakes.
Aside from our mistakes, we can take intentional action to raise awareness for our children. We do not have to leave them naïve. They can be kids that are aware and empowered to use caution without a debilitating fear of the world.
What I want is a confident child, one that is aware of their surroundings and one that is FULL of faith in Christ. It actually is harder to create than we might think.
My eldest is an adult now living on her own. I am proud to say she was prepared for adulthood and is always aware of her surroundings. I will admit that maybe it was slightly “too much.” So much so that she has a hard time trusting people at all, just like me. Therefore, I learned to take it down a notch with my younger kids, and it is working reasonably well so far.
Here are a few tips on how to help your child understand when to use caution:
Discipline helps your child understand boundaries – boundaries they shouldn’t cross and boundaries others shouldn’t cross with them. Discipline is clearly a form of teaching our children to set and follow boundaries in life.
Proverbs 23:13-14 says, “Do not hesitate to discipline a child.” Discipline teaches children responsibility and helps them practice control.
What I Can & Can’t Control Sort and Discuss Activity | Kylie The Creative Social Worker
Growth Mindset Interactive Mini-Book | Growing Firsties
Show them what respect looks like.
Teaching a child how to respect you and you respecting them, builds a healthy relationship to follow as they become adults. Do not anger your child but show them how to obey you with consequences. That relationship teaches more than just not being an unruly child. It teaches children to understand when they are being disrespected and to stay away from those people.
FREE Character Education Respect Activity Pack | Proud to be Primary
Respecting the Rights of Others (Genesis 13) FREE Bible Lesson |Future Flying Saucers
Let them know that not all strangers are bad, but NOT all of them are good either.
This one is tough for me. I admit it. Other women, I am sure, can relate. So much hurt can build that wall in us, a wall that permanently surrounds you for protection. It isn’t healthy, but neither is being naïve that our children have the possibility of being hurt.
Social story – Stranger Danger | Autismade
Personal Space Tiered Social Story and Activities | Badger State Speechy
Personal Body Safety | School Counseling Confessions
Personal Safety, Social Narrative, LessonPlan, Workbook | The Sunny Sunshine Student Support Store
Teach your children integrity, so they know to have it and when others don’t.
A Life of Integrity FREE Video and Vocabulary FREE | Tarheel State Teacher
Integrity: Lesson For Life – FREE No Cheating Lesson| Simplisticated Me
Encourage awareness of surroundings.
When you teach your kids all of these things above, they are aware of others who do not do the same. They learn not to fear people, but be cautious at the signs. Raising a child that understand caution is a child who is equipped and prepared to recognize when the above ideals are not displayed toward them.
(You will not want to miss the two articles below. If you are an, “if I have faith nothing will ever happen to my kids, type of mom” do not read them. They just are tips to help your kids pay attention to things around them.)
Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids | Preparedness Mama
10 Tips to Help Your Kids Be Aware of Their Surroundings| Little Rock Family
Kid’s Internet Safety Family Home Evening – FREE Printable | Housewives of Riverton
FREE Preschool Fire Safety Booklet Printables | Things to Share and Remember
Teach them what the Lord says about being cautious.
Read scripture with your kids. Let them ask questions, even silly questions. Answer them, and let your kids know you will answer whatever question they have. This allows them to feel comfortable telling you things.
Make sure your children know Galatians 5:22-23, 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.
Even though my kids didn’t grow up in the streets, I want them to be street smart. Judge me if you want, but the times in which we live require us to be aware. The Bible warns us over and over to be watchful.
1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. EH also tells us to be aware of false prophets, to guard our hearts, to keep our eyes on people, to keep watching, to heed instructions, and so much more.
Ephesians 5:15-16 says to be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. We can train our kids in God’s Word to be thoughtful and discerning. Maybe don’t lock your kids in their bedrooms when company is over like I did, but do show caution so your children can do the same.
They say that experts study a real dollar bill as to know how to detect a counterfeit. Teach our children what is right, and they will be cautious when things are wrong.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
Series Navigation Previous: How to Encourage Your Child to Use Their Time Wisely Next: How to Help Your Child Guard Their Lips