08.07.17

Hi! Happy August!! I am praying for you right now! 

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Complaining is like throwing up. Afterwards, you feel better but then everyone around you feels sick. #gordon
 
A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. #Downs
 
When the enemy points to everything I’m not, I point to everything God is. #furtick
 
God’s grace is not just an addition to our life. It’s a contradiction to our life. #keller
 
As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone else’s cup. Our responsibility is to empty ours. #Stanley
 
 
FYI:
 
1. Top Questions to ask college students before they head to school… https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/questions-college-students?utm_source=E-Journal+%2F+Parent+Update&utm_campaign=67215008f2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e88a54a953-67215008f2-312895925&mc_cid=67215008f2&mc_eid=4cf06de2c7
 
2. Gen Z most diverse media users… http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/youth-movement-gen-z-boasts-the-largest-most-diverse-media-users-yet.html

3. How Living Counter-Culturally Can Lead to Your Kids’ Resentment of Christianity… http://christianmomthoughts.com/how-living-counter-culturally-can-lead-to-your-kids-resentment-of-christianity/

Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Addressing Sexuality With Teenagers by Michael Guyer
6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home  by Barca Group  
Do Christian Teens Really Believe in Jesus? by Group Magazine
One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health by Tim Elmore
 

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

I may have posted this years ago but it is absolutely awesome! Totally worth your time!!
 
 
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
God’s Timing 
 
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1
God’s timing can be frustrating, but it eventually leads to freedom. Perhaps you strongly desire something or someone. It is right at your fingertips but you can’t have it now and that frustrates you. The timing is not right, for whatever reason. It may not be right for you and/or it may not be right for the other person. However, you can allow this frustration to lead you to freedom.  
God may be protecting you from failure because you are not ready for the grueling responsibility that lies ahead. There are still valuable lessons to learn where you are. It’s like your last semester of school. You are way past ready for graduation, but there are still final exams to study for and pass. You need to do your best where you are before moving on to God’s next assignment.  
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days”  (John 11:5-6).
Timing is everything. Your son really needs you right now during this challenging stage of his life. The insecurities of his teenage years are eating him alive. He needs extra attention and time from you to navigate through this uncertainty. This is a season, a season that will not be repeated. Your career can wait; children can’t. Yes, children are resilient and may not even say anything during difficult times, but you can rest assured that they will never forget that you were there for them. The security and confidence you sow into your children will stay with them for a lifetime. Your absence will stick with them as well. Fearful and insecure adults were once fearful and insecure children. So, allow this season of life to build bridges rather than barriers between you and your children. It is just for a moment in time. In the blink of an eye, they will be gone. 
 
Learn to celebrate various seasons of life. Do not resist them; embrace them. Join the wonder of their realities. The marriage of your adult child is imminent, so celebrate the occasion. Do not let the stress of the details and the outlay of cash rob you of the joy connected to this momentous occasion. You can rest in the fact that He has brought these two together. This is what you have prayed for concerning your child. You have prayed for a marriage into a God-fearing and Christ-honoring family. You have prepared them the best way you know how.
Ultimately it is in God’s hands. As the father and the mother of the bride or groom, learn how to let go and allow them to become one flesh. Your relationship will look different going forward. This is a new stage of life. So, do not try to control them. Let go of them and leave them in God’s hands. Your ability to adapt and adjust to new seasons of life has a direct correlation to your joy and happiness. God’s timing can be a surprise.  It is rarely early and never late.
Jesus understood this when He said to His mother, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4).
 
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the patience to wait on Your best and the humility to glorify You in the process, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
 

Why It’s Worth It

Ministry–let’s be real shall we–it isn’t always glorious. It isn’t always rewarding. It isn’t always easy.

You don’t usually hear that right out of Bible college or seminary. You hear just the opposite: You’re equipped! Thousands like you have gone before. Take the world by storm. Be Jesus to the masses.

Ministry is Hard

The reality is this: ministry is difficult, messy, full of broken people, and not about you. This can lead us to some very hard places. Places of doubt and anxiety. Feelings of am I good enough? We may question our calling and if it’s time to move on. 

I’ve been there. In fact, if I were completely honest, I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. I just walked through a period exactly like I described. Feelings of doubt. Questions of calling. Hurt. Depression. Worthlessness. Asking God why…

The truth is I questioned if I was to be in ministry after a very, very hard season. A season that saw much pain and grief. A season marked by a lack of affirmation, being moved without understanding why and wondering why we were leaving good students who we loved and cared for.

“God,” I cried out, “Why does it hurt?! Did You not call me to this? Why is there so much pain? Such heartache? Do you have a plan? Am I washed up?”

Many of you are or have been there. You question why. You wonder if you’re called. You take a break from ministry to heal and consider not going back. You cry…for hours, days, months…you’ve been there. I have too. 

But It’s Worth It

But in walking through this I have seen that it is worth it. That God has a plan. That ministry can and will get better. That there is light at the end of the very long tunnel. That we are called. That the enemy will try to use doubt, inadequacies, hurtful comments, critical natures, and rough patches to try to turn you from being God’s faithful servant.

Brothers and sisters hear me: we are CALLED according to God’s purpose, by the One who foreknew us, and is using us to accomplish His WORKMANSHIP! Ministry was never meant to be easy. We are called to a life of difficulty in ministering to a world that has turned its back on its Savior. There will be moments of SUFFERING, moments of FRACTURING, but also moments of GREAT JOY!

We do not do this for our own affirmation. We do not do this for notoriety. We do not do this to be the best friend of students or to be the most popular youth pastor. We do not do this to be liked or given gifts. We do not do this to be the center. We do this to point to the Center: our Savior.

My friends. My co-laborers. Know that ministry is hard, but it is worth it! We may not always see it on this side of eternity, but know that you can continue to serve because our rest and OUR REWARD IS IN HIM AND HIM ALONE. The author and perfecter of all things! It will get better, God will use you, lives will be changed, and God will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Ministry is worth it!

08.07.17

Addressing Sexuality With Teenagers by Michael Guyer

youthspecialties.com

In our families and in our churches, we are far too often late to the conversation about sexuality with our teenagers and reactionary once we speak up.

This should not be the case. The kitchen table and living room are perhaps the best places for this discussion. And the church is called to equip its people to follow Christ and make disciples within our culture. To overcome this we must talk about the issues—homosexuality, same-sex attraction, gender fluidity, pornography, and sexual immorality—and we must do so clearly and compassionately.

Within our cultural climate we cannot retreat out of fear or remain silent out of ignorance in either the home or the church. Now is the time to engage. Now is the time for honest answers to hard questions. Now is the time to listen well and speak truth in love. Now is the time to address the issues of sexuality with our teenagers.

1. WE MUST HELP TEENAGERS SEE THE BIBLE AS THEIR AUTHORITY AND GUIDE

The issue of sexuality is closely connected to the trustworthiness of the Bible for many teenagers. Too many teenagers are not grounded in the Bible enough to discuss a biblical response to the issue and when pressed the Bible does not function in an authoritative way in their life.

Kevin DeYoung is right:

“The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves as much as anyone that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant.” (143)

This challenge means two things:

DON’T SHY AWAY FROM TEACHING WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT SEXUALITY, BUT DO IT WITH GRACE AND LOVE.

Teach what the Bible says about gender, sexuality and purity with clarity. Don’t neglect, dismiss or deny what God has clearly said. However, while what you say is important, how you say it has never been more important. Don’t highlight the issues of sexuality as if it is all the Bible speaks against. Rather, teach what the Bible says about sexuality in light of its bigger picture—the goodness of God’s design for human beings and the good news of God’s redemption. The Bible invites us into something much bigger and better than our broken sexual desires—it invites us to know and enjoy the God who made and redeems us.

DON’T NEGLECT TO TEACH WHY THE BIBLE IS TRUSTWORTHY AND WHY IT FUNCTIONS AS OUR ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. 

Students need to know what the Bible says but they also need to know why they can trust it. This begins with demonstrating a high view of God’s Word and its authority in our teaching. It will also involve showing students what the Bible says about itself and how it is historically reliable. This cannot be taken for granted or only given lip service. It must evident in our practices and explicit in our teaching.

2. WE MUST LISTEN TO TEENAGERS

While there are many important and essential things we need to teach teenagers about gender and sexuality, it is imperative that we learn to listen well. We must be invested and involved in the lives of students so that we have the opportunity to listen. We must also create spaces where students are not only receiving God’s Word but discussing their lives and applying God’s Word to specific areas of it. When it comes to discussing issues of sexuality—especially homosexuality and gender issues—make sure to learn the stories of students who are struggling with these issues or have friends who are.

Many teenagers fear being labeled judgmental or intolerant, especially when they have friends who identify as homosexual or as transgender. We need to hear this struggle and speak directly to it with grace and truth.

3. WE MUST BE PATIENT WITH TEENAGERS

This topic cannot be addressed in a sermon series and then put on the shelf. It must be addressed faithfully as we teach through the Bible in our ministries. It must also be addressed personally through discipleship relationships. In the home, parents must be equipped with resources to discuss these issues with their children around the dinner table. In light of our current cultural climate, many teenagers will likely take a soft stance on these issues and maybe even disagree with the clear teaching of God’s Word, especially when it comes to its political aspects (i.e. same-sex marriage). Please don’t misunderstand, this is not an agreeing to disagree position.

While we cannot compromise the consistent biblical witness about God’s design for gender or sexuality, we must also not cut off conversations with students the first time they push back against it. Like all areas of discipleship, we must commit to patiently walk with teenagers as they come to know and grow up into Christ.

4. WE MUST KEEP OUR FOCUS ON THE GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL

Whatever we do, regardless of the issue we are addressing, we cannot shift our focus from the hope of the gospel. Following Christ is hard and it will entail holding unpopular positions within our culture. We should not only make the gospel clear in our teaching, we should show why the gospel is really good news. We should be showing the worth of Jesus in the way we live and what we teach. We should highlight the joy of knowing and being known by our Redeemer. We should show how the gospel really is good news to the lives of teenagers in our culture.

THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS FOR ALL PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF AGE, GENDER, RACE OR SEXUALITY.

  • It is good news about God coming to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10)
  • It is good news that our old self is gone and that we now have a new identity in Christ (Col. 3:1-11; Eph. 4:17-32)
  • It is good news that our past does not define us nor do our present circumstance limit the work God wants to do in and through us (Phil. 3:12-14)
  • It is good news about God coming to set us free from the bondage and shame of sin (Luke 4:18-19; 1 John 1:9).
  • It is good news about God forgiving the guilt of our sin (Mark 2:1-12; 1 John 1:9)
  • It is good news about God bearing the full wrath of God in our place (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:1)
  • It is good news about God bringing us out from the rule of sin into his glorious kingdom (Mark 1:15; Col. 1:13-14)
  • It is good news about God making us a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • It is good news about God bringing us from death to new, abundant life (Eph. 2:1-10; John 3:3-5; John 10:10)
  • It is good news about God beginning the restoration of all things (Rom. 8:19-20), including our broken sexual desires

The gospel holds out a better way for teenagers in the midst of our hyper-sexualized world. Now is the time to press into God’s Word, draw near to our neighbors, and speak and live with compassion and without compromise as we address the issues of sexuality with our teenagers.

08.07.17

6 Tech Habits Changing the American Home  by Barca Group

barna.org

Parents today believe it is harder than ever to raise children. The number-one reason? Technology.

That’s a key finding at the heart of The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, a new book by Andy Crouch. Two years ago, as we dreamed of partners for upcoming book and research projects, Crouch was at the top of our list. Crouch—a leading cultural commentator, one-of-a-kind speaker, senior communication strategist at John Templeton Foundation and former executive editor of Christianity Today—shares a different side of himself in this book: a dad who, alongside his wife, Catherine, has learned firsthand the challenges and rewards of engaging with technology intentionally (or sparingly) as a family. This book combines Crouch’s clear and incisive thinking with original Barna research among parents, who are feeling the tensions of parenting in a digital age.

In this sneak peek of The Tech-Wise Familywe look at some of the top revelations about how parents and kids relate to their devices and to each other.

Monitoring Technology Makes Parenting Even More Difficult
It’s a complex, rapidly changing world, and parents today are feeling it. Nearly eight in 10 parents (78%) believe that they have a more complicated job in raising their kids today than their parents did raising them. Technology is the number one reason parents believe it is harder than ever to raise children. Beyond that, parents seem to most often identify issues that feel beyond their control and that are global in scope: a more dangerous world or a lack of a common morality. The consequences of these difficulties feel dire and so, perhaps, scare parents more than local or personal factors such as finances, bullying at school or high academic pressures.

Life Truly Happens in the Living Room
Most families do almost everything together in their family or living room. Two-thirds of parents (65%) say they spend the most time as a family in this space, with the kitchen coming in as the preferred second space. Entertainment, leisure and creativity all overlap in this space—likely contributing to a presence of technology within all of these activities. Families are most often participating in leisure or entertainment activities in the family room (79%), but it’s also the place where families say their creative activities happen (51%).

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep … with My Smartphone”
When they do go to bed, most people take their phones with them. A full seven in 10 parents say they sleep with their phone next to them. Alarmingly, parents say their kids are even more likely to take their phones to bed: More than eight in 10 parents of teens (82%) say their child takes their phone to bed and more than seven in ten parents of preteens (72%) say the same. And when that phone is right next to you, it’s tempting to reach for it when you wake up: 62 percent of parents say checking their phone is the first thing they do in the morning. What are they doing on their phone while they rub away the cobwebs of sleep? Most check their email (74%). Social media (48%), news (36%) and calendar organization (24%) also vie for their attention. Less than one in five (17%) are using a Bible or devotional app.

Parents Might Limit Kids’ Device Usage—But Don’t Eliminate It
Children are spending an average of five hours on an electronic device (tablet, phone, computer, etc.) every day. Even at this amount, most parents say they are limiting the amount of time their kids spend on electronic devices (60%). Millennial parents—perhaps because they have younger children or perhaps because they are more likely to be immersed in and therefore experiencing their own angst around electronic usage—are more likely (73%) than Gen-Xer (57%) or Boomer parents (57%) to limit their children’s time on electronic devices. Limiting time seems more popular than eliminating the devices: Most kids have phones. Nearly nine in 10 parents with teenagers (88%) say their teen has a phone and just under half of parents with preteens (48%) say their child does.

Video Games and Family Time Dominate After School Hours
Aside from television watching, technology occupies a central place in many of the after-school activities of children: Four in 10 parents (42%) say their children regularly play video games after school, three in 10 (27%) are on social media or texting with friends, and a quarter (25%) are online other than for homework. Of course, there’s plenty of offline activity too: Nearly six in 10 (56%) spend time engaging with family members, four in 10 (39%) are playing informally, one-third (32%) are reading other than for homework, a quarter (23%) are playing organized sports, and more than one-fifth (22%) are hanging out with friends.

Parents Say Tech Disrupts the Dinner Table
When it comes to family meal time (which parents, on average, say happens at least six times a week), parents are apt to admit this space has been disrupted by electronic devices: One-quarter (24%) say they strongly agree that electronic devices are a significant disruption to their family meals, with an additional nearly one-fifth (18%) saying they somewhat agree. However, about one-third of parents (32%) say devices are not allowed at the table, and another one in five (22%) say family members rarely bring their devices to the table. Only one in five (19%) say their family members always bring their devices to the table.

What The Research Means
“Technology is literally everywhere in our homes—not only the devices in our pockets but the invisible electromagnetic waves that flood our homes,” writes Andy Crouch in his new book The Tech-Wise Family, written in partnership with original Barna research. “This change has come about overnight, in the blink of an eye in terms of human history and culture. When previous generations confronted the perplexing challenges of parenting and family life, they could fall back on wisdom, or at least old wives’ tales, that had been handed down for generations. But the pace of technological change has surpassed anyone’s capacity to develop enough wisdom to handle it. We are stuffing our lives with technology’s new promises, with no clear sense of whether technology will help us keep the promises we’ve already made.

“If we don’t learn to put technology, in all its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family,” continues Crouch. “Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. But almost anything is better than letting technology overwhelm us with its default settings, taking over our lives and stunting our growth in the ways that really matter. And I think there are some things that are true at every stage of life:

“Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love,” insists Crouch. “Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations; when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit; when it helps us acquire skills and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding. Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care.”

08.07.17

Do Christian Teens Really Believe in Jesus? by Group Magazine

youthministry.com

Charlie Chaplin, the legendary silent-film actor, once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest at a crowded vaudeville theater in San Francisco. Apparently, the competition was fierce, because the real Chaplin lost. In fact, he didn’t even place among the finalists. Charlie’s own fans didn’t recognize him in their midst—even those who were trying to imitate him.

And my research with more than 800 Christian teenagers shows that if Jesus himself walked through your youth-room door today, most of his “fans” in your group wouldn’t recognize him, either. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, really—I explore, in-depth, a wide range of Jesus-focused questions with Christian teenagers in my book The Jesus Survey (Baker Books). I’ve plucked six of the most surprising things I learned out of the pile:

MOST CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS DON’T BELIEVE IN CHRIST

The Jesus Survey gauged the beliefs of Christian teenagers in four essential “Jesus-focused” areas: • The Bible is trustworthy in what it says about Jesus (Luke 1:1-2; John 21:24; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). • Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14; 10:22-33; Philippians 2:5-7). • Jesus physically lived, died, and came back to life (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-7, 23:26-24:12). • Jesus is the only way to heaven. (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 7:9-10).

Results from the survey show that nine out of 10 (91 percent) Christian teenagers say they have significant doubt and sometimes outright disbelief, in one or more of these essentials of their faith. Unfortunately, these results reinforce the findings of a similar study conducted by Thom and Jess Ranier (titled Millennials) and also undergird a number of ongoing trends reported by the Barna Research Group in recent years.

From a denominational perspective, the picture is equally bleak. Four out of five (83 percent) of Baptist teenagers say they have doubts about these basic tenets of their Christian faith. Among Methodist teenagers, that number jumps to 95 percent. In Catholic youth groups, almost all (99 percent) struggle to embrace basic beliefs about Christ. And for Lutherans, Episcopalians, and United Church of Christ students, the number is 100 percent.

The Jesus Survey reveals that only a third of Christian teenagers (31 percent) confidently believe the Bible is trustworthy in what it says about Jesus. This is true even though all they know of Christ is rooted in the biblical account of his life and ministry. Additionally, about two-thirds (60 percent) are either uncertain or unsettled about the issue of the Bible’s trustworthiness. Even more alarming, one out of 10 teenagers in your youth group actually strongly rejects the trustworthiness of the Bible.

Similarly, less than half of Christian teenagers (39 percent) express strong confidence that Jesus is the only way to heaven. On the other side, about one Christian out of eight in our youth groups (13 percent) is fully committed to the opposite: They believe strongly that Jesus is not the only way to heaven. In all, almost two-thirds of Christian teenagers (61 percent) are either unsure or unwilling to commit to the belief that “Jesus saves.”

So what is the truth about the path to eternal life, according to a quarter of Christian teenagers? “Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and other great religious leaders all have equal standing in leading people to heaven.”

RIGHT BELIEF TRANSLATES INTO REAL EXPERIENCE

“Confident Christian Teenagers”—the “tithe” (9 percent) of our youth group kids who buck the trend and express confident, consistent faith in four essential beliefs about Christ—are living a markedly different experience with God than their peers. Consider:

• Eighty-six percent (nearly nine out of 10) of Confident Christian Teenagers strongly agree with this statement: “I’m 100 percent certain that the Holy Spirit of Jesus is present and active in my life today—and I have proof that this is true.” Among all other Christian teenagers, barely half (52 percent) make the same claim. Put that statistical variance of 34 percentage points in the context of a presidential election, and you can quickly see how significant that difference is.

• Likewise, nearly all (94 percent) of Confident Christian Teenagers strongly agree with this statement: “I’m 100 percent certain Jesus has answered one or more of my prayers—and I can prove it.” Again, only about half of all other Christian teens (55 percent) say the same thing.

YOUTH GROUP KIDS ARE SMARTER THAN WE THINK

Over the past several years, fantastical “Christ Conspiracies” have found traction in the media. In the cottage industry of Christian response books, the familiar warning is that conspiracy theories like The Da Vinci Code are corrupting our youth and leading faithful teenagers away from Christ.

Well, here’s some good news from The Jesus Survey: Your kids are smarter than they get credit for being.

For starters, Christian kids are near-unanimous in their rejection of the silly Da Vinci Code premise that Jesus ditched the cross and married Mary Magdalene instead. More than nine out of 10 (92 percent) reject that theory outright. What’s more, in a remarkable show of consistency, Christian teenagers treat hoax theories in general as hooey. Nine out of 10 (92 percent) reject the idea that “Jesus’ death on a cross was some kind of hoax,” and almost all (95 percent) scoff at the idea that Jesus was actually just a myth.

THE BIBLE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WE THINK

We’ve already seen that Confident Christian Teenagers who adhere to the four core beliefs about Christ report a markedly stronger daily experience with God. No surprise, then, that Christian kids who believe the Bible is trustworthy are most likely to also believe all four of the core beliefs I’ve listed at the start of this article. For instance:

Among Bible-believing teenagers, four out of five (80 percent) express a consistently strong conviction that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead after his execution. Among kids who are uncertain or unsettled about the Bible, that number drops to less than half (48 percent and 37 percent, respectively). And, among Christian teenagers who simply don’t believe the Bible can be trusted, only one in seven (16 percent) fully believes the story of Easter is true.

Further, within the group of Christian teenagers that strongly affirms “Jesus is the only way to heaven,” virtually all (99 percent) also believe the Bible to be trustworthy. Additionally, roughly four out of five (82 percent) Bible-believers strongly claim that the Holy Spirit is active in their lives, and a similar number (83 percent) confidently claim indisputable proof that Christ has answered their prayers.

This data appears to reinforce the idea that right belief translates into real experience, and suggests that confidence in the Bible’s trustworthiness is the first step toward right belief.

THE BIBLE IS MOSTLY A NON-FACTOR FOR CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS

In 1536, William Tyndale was choked, impaled, and burned on a stake as punishment for translating the Bible into the language of the common man, thereby making Scripture accessible to anyone who could read English. For many Christian kids, that incredible sacrifice was made, mostly, in vain.

Although three-quarters (73 percent) of Christian teenagers say that daily Bible study is important for followers of Christ, a surprising number of our kids (26 percent—about one in four) actually reject that idea. For them, daily Bible study is either optional or completely unnecessary. This seems an unusually large number considering that all the students who took The Jesus Survey were involved in a church youth group at the time of the survey.

Regardless of the perceived value (or lack of value) they place on daily Bible study, practically no Christian teenager reports consistent interaction with Scripture outside of church. Barely 5 percent (about one in 20 youth group members) say they open the Bible on a daily basis. And fully two-thirds of Christian teenagers (67 percent) say they seldom or never study the Bible on a daily basis. Even among Confident Christian Teenagers, only about one in five (19 percent) makes Scripture-reading a daily habit.

Why do Christian kids who attend youth group dismiss daily Bible study in such large numbers? That’s a question that deserves a thoughtful, and personal, exploration.

CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS ARE NOT SHY ABOUT SHARING THEIR FAITH

An overwhelming majority of Christian teenagers (84 percent) believe it is their responsibility to “tell others about Jesus with the intent of leading them to be Christian, too.” Given their earlier hesitation in affirming that Jesus is the only way to heaven, this number pleasantly surprised me. And, in fact, even among teenagers who believe Jesus is not the only way to heaven, more than half (55 percent) still endorse the call of the Great Commission.

What’s more, your kids are actually following up their belief with action when it comes to evangelism. More than half (56 percent) report that “I shared about my faith in Jesus with a non-Christian during the past month.” That’s an encouraging finding—until you begin to think about exactly what these kids are actually preaching.

If the evangelistic content shared by Christian teenagers reflects what they say they believe about Christ, then three out of four (74 percent) are actually spreading untruths about Jesus to their friends, neighbors, coworkers, and more. And that begs one final question: At what point does the sincere, mistaken faith of our teenagers actually become a false religion instead of authentic Christianity?

Again, I have no real answers, but with eternity in the balance, it’s time to take that question seriously and evaluate our own youth groups.

08.07.17

One Act That Improves Kids’ Emotional Health by Tim Elmore

growingleaders.com

This year, both parents and educators can do something about their students’ well-being and future success. The suggestion may sound so simple, we can miss it. After surveys in a variety of countries, however, one act (on the part of an adult) can move the needle for our kids’ emotional health. Are you ready for this?

“Spending time just talking,” the students said.

Hold on. Are you serious?

Yes, I am. A substantial amount of young people in industrialized nations around the world report that they feel “alone” as they face the pressure of exams, relational conflicts, bullying and other sources of angst. But ARE they alone? Most of us would swear they’re not alone, as we watch them spend the same number of hours online with peers as a full-time job would require. Yet—perception is reality.

Screens do not accomplish the same goals as face-to-face conversations.

According to a report from the BBC on Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, “about 11% of teenagers reported they were frequently mocked, 7% were ‘left out of things’, 8% were the subject of hurtful rumors and about 4 %—that is still roughly one per class—were being hit or pushed around.” In summary, the OECD report said, “A substantial number of young people feel isolated, humiliated, feel like an outsider at school or are physically assaulted.”

What Are They Worried About?

In fact, when we asked teens in our 2016 focus groups, the biggest sources of stress for students are likely predictable, but worthy of our notice:

  • Academic pressure (make the grades so I’ll be accepted at the right college)
  • Social angst (FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out; friends doing things without me)
  • Lost opportunities (FOLO – Fear of Living Offline; missed information)
  • Family problems (Conflict with parents or siblings)

What the BBC report suggests (and what our data confirms) is that students actually do want to talk about these sources of anxiety, but don’t know how. Adults often make things “cheesy” or “corny” or they begin “lecturing me on what to do.” In short, the dialogue turns into a monologue. The adult becomes “prescriptive” with their words, rather than sharing ownership of the topic with their student.

But check these realities out from the BBC report:

For educators: “On average across countries, students who reported that their teacher is willing to provide help and is interested in their learning are also about 1.3 times more likely to feel that they belong at school.”

For parents: “Spending time just talking” is the parental activity most frequently and most strongly associated with students’ life satisfaction. For instance, “girls whose parents encouraged them to be confident in their abilities were 21% less likely to report feeling tense about schoolwork.”

Some Simple Steps We Can Take

1. Make sure you eat together regularly.

While this is fast becoming obsolete in our hectic world, meals together spark not only trust, but satisfaction. I recall reading about a non-profit organization created to help families do meal conversations. Food somehow brings people together. While occupied with eating something, we feel safer and tend to open up and become more transparent. Meals together set you up to go deeper later.

2. Ask questions on meaningful topics they’re interested in.

When my kids were younger, I would choose a Habitude® once a week, and make it our guide to intriguing conversation. We’d choose an image (at times together) and found the “picture was worth a thousand words.” We discussed what movies they’d seen where the principle was practiced or violated. We discussed people they knew who embodied the principle. With little effort, these talks led to great outcomes.

3. Plan experiences that will spark dialogue.

We all know that trips, events, encounters and experiences lead to natural conversation. We like to talk about interesting things that happen to us. So why not create some? Plan experiences that are engaging and will lead to discussions. As my kids grew up we took overseas trips, we fed homeless people downtown, we sponsored several children from various African nations, we visited great companies and interviewed interesting leaders; you name it. We grew from it all.

4. Tell them what you see.

At the right time and in a safe place, communicate the potential you see in them, not just the reality they see in themselves today. Cast vision for the strengths you find evident and be specific in your description. Don’t tell them what they should do with it, but let them know they’re capable of more than they may currently imagine.

I will never forget my son’s facial expression, when at age 12, I first told him in a serious tone, “Jonathan—you have what it takes to be a man.” He stared at me for a moment with big eyes, pondering what I’d said. Then, he smiled. My words weren’t magic, but I felt they were necessary as I watched him second-guessing his choices. We all need someone we respect to relay words of empathy and direction.

The good news is, according to the BBC report, “Students with high levels of life satisfaction were significantly more likely to have parents who regularly spent time talking to them. Parents who sat around the table to eat their main meal with their children and talked about how they were doing at school also made a difference.”

These highly satisfied students also “tend to have greater resilience and are more tenacious in the face of academic challenges.”

Let’s start the conversation.

07.31.17

Hi! Summer is going too fast!!! Haha!! I am praying for you right now!

Daily Prayer Email: Please send ALL prayer requests for your class to: studentcbsprayer@gmail.com
 
Quotes:
Submit your use of technology to Jesus every day. #me
 
The security of Jesus’s love enables me to need less, and to love more. #keller
 
My prayer is that God would not only use me to preach the message but for me to become the message. #heard
 
God’s “no” is not a rejection, it’s a redirection.
 
FYI:
1. The Facts About Online Predators… https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/the-facts-about-online-predators-every-parent-should-know?j=5192754&l=512_HTML&u=78632979&mid=7000332&jb=234&utm_source=072817+Default&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly#
 
2. The Cure for Diva Syndrome… https://www.heartlightministries.org/2017/07/cure-diva-syndrome/?utm_source=CC+Master+List&utm_campaign=d569dc4cd2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_07_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5926458580-d569dc4cd2-126726953
 
 
4. Parent Guide to Suicide, Bullying, Self Harm by Focus on the Family (Below in PDF)
Here is what I just posted on the blogwww.studentcbsblog.org 
 
Adolescents in Crisis: Why We Need to Recover Religion by Paul Vitz and Bruce Buff (Blog piece but insightful.)
34 Ways for Youth Leaders to be Present by Brant Cole
Having Trust in Your Volunteers to Lead by Ben Lock 
8 Compliments You Seriously Need to Stop Giving to Your Kids by Tina Donvito (I know I told you I posted this last week… but I did not! I think this has some interesting thoughts that we should be aware of!)

Here are 2 video links I think you might like to see:

http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/68359/this-is-jesus?utm_source=WorshipHouse%20Media%20–%20Around%20the%20House%20(CD%20Update)&utm_medium=email&utm_content=this_is_jesus-2182924&utm_campaign=fp-07/28/2017-2182924
 
http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/61826/even-there
 
Here are 2 just for you:
 
A Satisfied Life by Tripp Prince
 
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness. Psalm 17:15
Satisfaction and contentment are two of the hardest virtues for us to cultivate in our contemporary culture. For most of us, from the moment we open our eyes each morning, we enter into a battle for peace, struggling to hold fast to the goodness and love of God. We find ourselves spending hours each day allowing relationships, media, and social media feeds to define our sense of identity, our expectation of affluence, and vision of what is important and worthy of our attention and affection. This cycle of desire and discontent can become if we aren’t careful, the constant posture of our lives.
Into this chaos, the LORD speaks peace over us and over his creation. He extends an offer of freedom, inviting us to reframe our understanding of self and the world in light of the self-giving love shown in Jesus. And in his written Word, we are reminded that our satisfaction is directly linked to our ability to intimately abide with him.
How would you define the first emotions of your day? Family brokenness may quickly rush you into a place of anxiety. Perhaps it’s simple exhaustion from a struggle to sleep through the night. You may find yourself in an abusive and toxic work environment, and so most mornings bring with them a sense of fear or even anger towards coworkers or your boss. Is it possible to join our hearts and lives with the psalmist when they say, “when I awake I shall be satisfied?” 
Our ability to enjoy a satisfied life is directly linked to our willingness to behold the LORD in his beauty and faithfulness, allowing this likeness to be restored and remade within us.  We are constantly tempted to allow all sorts of sub-identities to become our primary identities. When we view ourselves primarily as an employee, our satisfaction or discontent is therefore dependent upon how well our job is going. The same is true of countless other identities that we take on: parent, child, athlete, collector, enthusiast. The list could go on and on. These identities contribute to who we are, yet they are all secondary to the primary identity that you and I bear: daughter or son of God.  
As beloved children, we are set free to find our satisfaction in the goodness of God and the work of his Spirit within us, growing us day by day into people who reflect that image in every area of life. As we do this, our joy, contentment, and satisfaction is no longer dependent upon our circumstances but instead transforms them, speaking peace and hope over even the darkest parts of our hearts and lives.  
Prayer: Father, teach us what it means to truly find our satisfaction in you alone, freeing us from lesser loves that only bring sorrow, anxiety, and pain. Amen.
The Metamorphosis by Kelly McFadden (Love the visual!)

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. –Romans 5:3-5
There is a story of a boy who found a caterpillar and brought it home. Shortly thereafter, the caterpillar began building her cocoon. The boy knew that one day, when the time was right, she would emerge and spread her beautiful wings. The boy couldn’t wait! So each day he checked on his caterpillar until one day he noticed a tiny hole. It was time. But as the boy watched, he could see that the butterfly was struggling. So, with a pair of scissors, he carefully opened the cocoon to free the butterfly. The butterfly emerged, but her wings were small and shriveled and her body, swollen. The butterfly never flew.

What the boy came to learn was that part of the metamorphosis for the butterfly, was the struggle. In order for the butterfly to fly, it needed to work its way through the small hole. That is how it builds its wing and body strength to fly. Even though the boy was trying to help, in the end, he hurt the butterfly.

A lot of times, if given the option between the difficult path versus the easy path, I readily choose the latter. It is not pleasant to suffer or struggle. But oftentimes, it is a part of the process of growth. It is true: We grow most through experiences that push us to our limits. Yet regularly, we avoid the struggle ourselves, or else as parents, we help our kids avoid the struggle. In the end, like the boy, instead of helping ourselves or others, we only cause long-term hurt.

It seems bizarre to rejoice in our sufferings, but the story of the butterfly illustrates why it is not necessarily a bad thing to go through trying times. This is where growth comes. God uses life’s difficulties to help us grow into stronger and better people. These problems develop perseverance, which in turn deepens our character. This then leads to hope, because it deepens our trust and relationship with God.

ParentGuide_13ReasonsWhy

07.31.17

Adolescents in Crisis: Why We Need to Recover Religion by Paul Vitz and Bruce Buff
Nationalreview.com
With no belief in higher meaning, too many young people turn to hook-up sex, drugs, and social media for fulfillment.
Our teenagers and often those still younger are taking their lives in increasing numbers, many seemingly without warning. Many more young people are suffering from depression, anxiety, or related mental-health problems. The reports often link to social media: bullying leading to suicide; serious self-harm in an attempt to deal with emotional pain; suicide pacts; a widely cited post giving reasons for suicide by a child who killed herself; drug abuse and other destructive behaviors; school shootings that often end in suicide.
Other evidence of youthful mental-health problems: Pre-adult suicides are up three to five times (depending on the source) since the 1950s and still increasing. One study reported that 10 percent of the young are taking anti-depressants. In “Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright,” Susanna Schrobsdorff  of Time magazine noted that “adolescents today have a reputation for being fragile, less resilient, and more overwhelmed than their parents growing up.” We are also seeing an increase in mental-health issues in college-age students. The average well-being of entering college students has been in decline since the 1970s, when the measuring began. During college years, mental-health problems are on the rise, according to recent studies.
Yet American society today is far better off economically than it was 50 years ago, and we have a better understanding of mental-health problems. Moreover, we now have a great many more psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, and mental-health practitioners than we did even a generation ago. So what’s wrong — what has happened?
Schrobsdorff proposed that the cause for the decline is the social climate that teenagers experience. She attributes this climate to social media, smart phones, and school pressures. These factors are recent, though, and did not emerge until well after the observed decline of adolescent mental health.

A far stronger case can be made for our society’s decline in religious faith as the cause of these mental pathologies in the young. The decline in religion that began in the ’60s has accelerated in the past 15 years and is especially great among young people. A recent Pew report noted that over a third of its young respondents described themselves as “believers in nothing in particular.” Schrobsdorff’s omission of religious decline is one indication of how great the decline in religion has been — and how much our secular culture is in denial on the issue. The media just doesn’t “get” religion.

In America, the transcendent dimension of life has historically been expressed primarily through the Judeo-Christian tradition, whose decline in recent years has created an enormous vacuum in meaning. This vacuum has been “filled” by postmodern nihilism combined with the “deconstruction” — aggressively taught in the academy — of belief in objective truth, goodness, and beauty. Moral relativism now eclipses transcendent meaning. The fragility of many young people — often termed “snowflakes” — shows their emotional vulnerability. They interpret ideas that challenge them as unbearable acts of aggression, and they use harsh and even violent measures to silence disagreeable opponents. In short, the prevalence of political correctness is a clear sign that belief in higher meaning and rational discussion has ceased to function in much of our higher-education system. Furthermore, political correctness is itself a symptom of the unstable mental condition of those who insist on it.
Countless young people now live in a world without any real meaning; they feel there is nothing for them to believe in. Emotional numbness is one of the consequences. They no longer value themselves for their inherent worth and dignity as created by God; they no longer find self-worth in their efforts to lead lives based on truth and love. Instead, many of our young people look outside themselves for validation — to material goods and social feedback. But many find these superficial, transitory, and empty. In addition, the decline of religion has resulted in sexual relations becoming trivialized and deprived of any greater meaning. The “hook-up” culture leaves many wounded young people in its wake.
While the secular class and those victimized by their policies have been shedding their religious beliefs, evidence for the positive effects of religious life has been repeatedly reported by many studies over the past decades. Many of them show that strongly religious people are happier, healthier, and live longer than those with no religious belief and practice. Having faith in God and attributing a religious meaning to life anchors people, directs their efforts to things beyond the material world, protects them against setbacks, and provides supportive community.
What might be done to imrpovee mental health via religious practice? To begin, this is not a problem for government policy. The government just needs to get out of the way — and be less hostile to religion. Recent Supreme Court decisions dealing with religious issues suggest that this will happen.
Individuals can respond in many ways. Fathers and mothers can encourage their children in religious practice centered in family life and encourage them to join serious religious peer groups. Relatives — grandparents, aunts, and uncles — can give valuable advice. For young people drawn to atheism, many recent books address the topic brilliantly (see Alister McGrath’s Twilight of Atheism,for instance). Darwinism, materialism, and atheism have received powerful recent critiques (as in Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos, Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt, and Robert Spitzer’s New Proofs for the Existence of God).
Religious and private schools can make a tremendous difference in their student communities by regularly emphasizing the importance of God and promoting faith.
Business leaders and others in the professions can speak out about their faith in public settings and implement new ideas about how to reach the young.
There have been times in America’s past when religion was in decline and seemed on the way out — especially according to its intellectual detractors. But at these moments, Biblical religion recovered with new movements and energies. We propose that we are now at the threshold of another such renewal. Let us pray so since our secular culture offers no credible reasons to believe in higher meaning. It offers only empty materialist distractions on a slow march to societal suicide. The plight of our young sounds a wake-up call we can no longer ignore.

07.31.17

34 Ways for Youth Leaders to be Present by Brant Cole

youthspecialties.com

One of the high priorities in our youth ministry is that each student has a caring adult in their life who loves God and has a heart for them, even on their bad days.

As Josh Shipp has stated,

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.”

We want to put caring adults – youth leaders – into the lives of each student in our ministry so that they will have someone who is not only caring but actively present in their lives. So, to ensure that each of our youth leaders knows how to do this, we have set before them a few simple ways that they can be present in the lives of our students.

There are a million ways students need us be present in their lives. Not all of them are easy. And we can’t be there for every student every day. But we can do for a few what we wish we could do for everyone. Because they need a leader who celebrates them on their best days, and who loves them their worst days. And they need a leader who does this on his or her best days and worst days, too.

Being present in a student’s life can look like a lot of different things. Each one means something different but is equally important to a student. It can look like…

  1. Praying for them. Lots of praying for them.
  2. Showing up to small group consistently. Even if you’re dead tired and no one seems to care that you’re there.
  3. Continuing to call and text them, even when they reply only with “yes,” “no” and “OK,” trusting that one day the dam will break and another vocabulary will come rushing through. (Especially when dealing with middle schoolers, people!)
  4. Keeping up with a 12-messages-per-second group text when it does happen.
  5. Having a hard conversation about what you’re seeing them post on Instagram.
  6. Sitting with them long after group time has ended, when words fail both of you and there are only tears.
  7. Answering your phone at midnight.
  8. Answering your phone at work.
  9. Sending a card just because.
  10. Calling their parents when you need to, even if they don’t want you to.
  11. Driving over an hour in traffic, to run full speed through a parking lot, to throw $10 at the ticket man, to wave your homemade sign during a 2-minute cheer routine.
  12. Sliding into a side hallway to pray with them during a morning service.
  13. Being willing to disagree with them and challenge them to look at things from a less comfortable angle, even if it means they get frustrated with you.
  14. Being willing to make a fool of yourself to entertain them or get a point across.
  15. Sticking up for them.
  16. Digging deeper with them into the Bible to find answers to questions you had to honestly answer with, “I don’t know.”
  17. Apologizing to them when you used a tone you shouldn’t have used or said something you shouldn’t have said.
  18. Loving on their parents and families.
  19. Being crazy outwardly excited about their decision to be baptized.
  20. Knowing what their “outside of church” world looks like and asking specific questions about it often.
  21. Staying up until 3 am on retreat weekends listening intently to heart after heart pour out. Then crawling into a sleeping bag on the floor for four hours of sleep. (Or two hours of silent prayer and processing, and two hours of sleep.)
  22. Modeling your own relationship with Jesus as a priority.
  23. Practicing what you preach.
  24. Letting go of the Monday morning blues until after small group ends at 7:30 pm on Sunday night.
  25. Making an Instagram account and liking their posts.
  26. Sitting in the cold rain, watching an entire game in which they only play for the last 30 seconds. (And cheering as loud as you can for all 30 seconds.)
  27. Hugging or high fiving them every Sunday morning.
  28. Following up on things they told you they’re struggling with.
  29. Sharing your personal stories of struggles.
  30. Putting your phone away.
  31. Encouraging them to serve others and doing it alongside them.
  32. Helping them find their unique gifts and encouraging them to use them.
  33. Believing they can change the world around them by doing so.
  34. Telling them you’ll never give up on them. And following through on that promise.

07.31.17

Having Trust in Your Volunteers to Lead by Ben Lock

youthspecialties.com

As youth pastors, we have the responsibility of helping our students grow in a closer relationship with Christ. One of the best ways that I have come up with, is to trust my volunteers to take the lead on activities, such as games, lessons, planning, etc. Many times, I feel that it can be easy just to do all the normal things myself instead of recruiting more volunteers or trying to find someone to take the place of another person on a Sunday morning. In the end, I know having volunteers take the lead is critical and substantial to our ministry and here is why:

1. THEY ARE CHALLENGED.

Sometimes, as youth pastors, we can think that we need volunteers to control numbers instead of being pushed. The times that our leaders feel that they get the most out of a lesson is when they are the ones teaching and leading. For me, I don’t want to ruin what is helping them continue to grow and develop in their personal ministry at our church.

2. I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONLY VOICE.

To me, this is very critical. I don’t want to be the only voice to teens because some teens relate better to a personality that is different than mine. One example I have is that I love sports, video games, superheroes and the great outdoors. Not every time can I relate to all the students in a lesson. On the other hand, we have a leader that has a different personality than mine. She teaches and relates her lessons differently than mine through current events, history, and school (she retired as a principal). We have other leaders that teach in a rotation because I don’t want to be the only voice that students learn when some would learn more from someone else.

3. THEY ARE INVOLVED BECAUSE THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE YOUTH.

The people who volunteer to be a leader are there because they want to see students grow in their relationship with Christ. You can hand over responsibility to them that will free time up for and give them something extra for their leadership in the ministry to make their own. I am not the best, per say, with being creative. A successful VBS usually has some creative aspect to it. Since I know I am not that creative, I have two leaders who voluntarily came up to me and say they would love to be a part of the planning of the VBS. It is nice for me to sit back and let them do what they’re passionate about, while I can work on other aspects of VBS that I am passionate about. They love it, I love it and VBS is going to be much better because of it. Volunteer leaders want to be challenged and not feel that they are just another body.

4. YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE.

Successful youth ministry cannot be done alone. In Exodus 18, Jethro visits Moses and tells him pretty much that he is going to burn out quickly if he tries to do everything himself. I think that is very relevant for us today, as youth pastors. We can attempt to try and take on every leadership aspect in the ministry and eventually get tired and burned out, or, for our sanity and lasting for the long haul, we can pass on some leadership to our volunteer leaders who may be more passionate or skillful in an area that we are in a given area. This not only helps you but helps the overall ministry in general. There is nothing wrong with giving away leadership and in my opinion, it must happen if we expect to grow.

Volunteers taking over some aspect of leadership is a good thing. It is scary and can be nerve wrecking, but the fruit that can grow is tremendous! I love getting to see volunteers in our church take on leadership and seeing them grow through it.

07.31.17

8 Compliments You Seriously Need to Stop Giving to Your Kids by Tina Donvito

http://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/compliments-that-are-hurtful/9/

You may think you’re building up kids’ self-esteem, but you may be unintentionally setting them up to struggle. Here’s what not to say to avoid the praise trap.

Previous generations may have been very strict and held back from praising their children, but parents today may be overcompensating. (Here are 52 of the worst parenting tips parents get.) According to child development experts, the point of praise is to encourage positive behavior. But simply being “smart” isn’t a behavior, and kids don’t perceive it as something they can control. So praising them for it “is not helpful because kids—and adults—usually think that being smart is innate and fixed,” says Christia Spears Brown, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Kentucky. “They think you are born with a certain amount of ‘smartness,’ and if schoolwork comes easily, then you are smart, and if schoolwork is difficult, then you are not smart.” So when they struggle or fail, they will find it that much more discouraging and insurmountable a problem. Instead, studies have shown that parental praise for kids’ hard work instead of their inherent abilities better develops their perseverance. “Saying things like ‘I am so proud of how hard you worked on your math,’ or ‘I am proud of how hard you studied for spelling’ tells a child that success is due to effort,” Dr. Brown says. “Then, when kids face a difficulty, they are more likely to work harder to be successful than to give up because they simply ‘aren’t smart enough.’”

“I’m so proud you got an A!”

Of course, parents are going to be proud if their child gets a good grade—but it’s the improvement that should be praised instead of simply the end result. (Here’s more on why you should never call your kid “smart.”) “Research shows that people are happier when they have a ‘growth’ mindset rather than a ‘fixed’ mindset,” says Laura Markham, PhD, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start ConnectingResearch from Stanford showed that kids with a growth mindset improved more in grades and study skills—because they believed they could get better if they worked at it. “We want to encourage children in ways that will help them develop a growth mindset, which will help them become more resilient and able to work hard to accomplish their goals in life,” Dr. Markham says. A better way to praise would be to show them how their effort led to their success. “Encouraging them with work-in-progress praise—’You really are getting the hang of that piece now after all that practice’—can give them a real sense that they are making strides towards becoming more proficient,” say Paul J. Donahue, PhD, the founder/director of Child Development Associates and the author of Parenting Without Fear. “Likewise the child who may not love reading but worked to master his first chapter book should hear solid words of encouragement: ‘You really worked hard to stay focused and sound out all the words, and to finish that long book.'” Getting such compliments will make the child more likely to repeat the action.

“Your artwork is so beautiful!”

Here’s another tricky one: Maybe you do think their artwork is beautiful, but by praising kids in this way you’re encouraging them to look outside themselves for approval. (Find out more parenting mistakes to avoid with toddlers.) “It teaches the child that his work can always be evaluated by others, which undermines his confidence,” Dr. Markham says. “It also teaches him to ‘produce’ more and more paintings with less and less work, since the parent just keeps saying, ‘That’s beautiful!'” In one study, kids with low self-esteem who were overpraised on their artwork more often opted to then sketch a simpler drawing instead of a more challenging one, because it was the safer choice. To avoid inadvertently discouraging children, compliment how dedicated they were to their project, offer up specifics about the painting (“I see you used texture to show the waves in the ocean”), and then ask what they think of their work. It’s not your approval that should matter—it’s their own. Instead, your job is to foster kids’ interest in what they’re doing. “Why not focus on the effort, and what the child actually did or felt, rather than evaluating the product?” Dr. Markham says.

“You’re a good girl/boy!”

Praising a child for being “good” places an inherent value on them, rather than on their actions, so they believe themselves to be either “good” or “bad.” (Don’t fall into these 11 ways you’re being a toxic parent without even knowing it.) So what’s wrong with being good? “Every child knows they aren’t always ‘good’ and that they have thoughts and feelings you wouldn’t like,” Dr. Markham says. “So if you tell them they’re good, they need to show you otherwise by acting bad—or they become heavily invested in keeping you fooled, and they feel like they have to hide their true selves and be perfect, which is even worse.” Always refer to the child’s actions, rather than evaluating the child herself, she says.

“You’re so pretty!”

We may notice girls’ appearance, clothes, and hair more than we notice boys’, so it seems natural to compliment it—but this is evidence of our own gender bias. (Here are 10 things about raising girls moms wish they knew sooner.) “The problem lies in the messages that girls receive from every front,” Dr. Brown says. “Girls are growing up in a culture where their value is constantly linked to their appearance, so the collective message that girls internalize is that they must be attractive to have worth.” Research shows that girls feel pressure to look pretty by their elementary school. Being pretty is also viewed as something that can’t be controlled—so if a girl feels she isn’t pretty, she may feel she isn’t lovable and there’s nothing she can do about it. Or, she may spend a lot of effort on trying to look pretty, instead of focusing on other, more valuable skills and interests. “In general, there is no reason to evaluate how a child looks—and every reason not to,” Dr. Markham says. (Find out things parents say that ruin their kids’ trust.)
Great job!
Most parents end up saying this about a hundred times a day—no judgment, but it’s not actually an effective way to motivate kids. (You also want to avoid the five biggest myths parents buy into.) “This creates a praise junkie who needs constant reassurance,” Dr. Markham says. “The child learns to do the task for the praise, and stops finding the inherent reward in the task, which steals the child’s motivation.” We love our kids and want them to feel good about themselves, but praise for every little thing they do makes the compliments lose their meaning. One Ohio State study showed that constant praise fostered narcissism, not self-esteem. Also, because it’s not specific, “great job” gives the child no actual information about what made the job great. Dr. Brown has an idea about how to turn it around. “Saying positive things to our children is always positive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be praise,” she says. “For example, instead of saying, ‘Good job for setting the table,’ parents can change it to, ‘Thank you for helping.’”
You’re the best!
Even if they are literally the best at something (which isn’t too likely), telling kids they are could create an expectation of achievement that they will then do anything to try to uphold. (Read about ways to foster a better relationship with your children.) “Offering too much absolute praise can put a lot of pressure on kids to feel that they always have to be the best at what they do, a standard that can be unbearably high,” Dr. Donahue says. This can create feelings of inadequacy if a child thinks he can’t live up to it, according to research. “It can also backfire, and teach children to limit their focus to activities at which they know they can excel,” Dr. Donahue says. This can lead children to stop applying themselves, trying new things, or keeping at it when things get hard in order to keep you “fooled,” says Dr. Markham. Creating realistic, attainable standards and praising a personal best—rather than a comparison to others—is a more effective technique.
A compliment that’s not sincere.
Kids have a good BS detector and know when you aren’t really interested in or proud of what they’re up to. (Read about successful kids and 10 habits of the parents who raise them.) “Children can easily recognize when we are disappointed in them, or when our praise is faint, insincere, or worse, sarcastic,” Dr. Donahue says. “One of the most important things children desire is for their parents to be genuine with them in their affection, in their support, and in their constructive criticism.” For example, if your child sang horribly off-key in the talent show, you might say, “I am proud of how brave you were to get up in front of everyone—and you remembered all the words!” A recent study from South Korea showed that children’s perceptions of overpraising (as well as under-praising) predicted poorer school performance and higher depression than praise that reflected reality. “The goal is to make the praise meaningful, and show children what traits and attributes we value, such as hard work, being helpful, and being kind,” Dr. Brown says. “Parents should not think of praise as a way to build self-esteem because it doesn’t. Instead, praise can be a way to reinforce the specific attributes we want to foster in our children that will help them be more successful adults.”