Help Them Control Their Behavior

Help Them Control Their Behavior

Help Them Control Their Behavior

All of us at Celebrate Kids are passionate that children know who they are. And, parents and educators need to know who they are. Identity controls behavior.

I’ve enjoyed writing this series on helping children develop a complete identity. A complete identity is important for many reasons I’ve included in the posts. Let me summarize it this way:

Children with a complete identity will be healthier. They’ll be more secure and confident. Why? If one part of their identity fails them, they’ll know more about themselves to rely upon. For instance, if children think they only have an intellectual identity and their grades begin to slip, they may panic. This won’t help their concentration and they may earn lower grades in the next week. But, when they know their character, they can rely on the choice to be diligent to raise their grades. When they know their social identity, they may think of someone to study with. Knowing their emotional identity can help them calm down. I trust this makes sense.

During the past 2 weeks, like me, have you paid more attention to the weather than normal? Have you been glued to the TV and watching reports about Harvey and Irma? Have you been on Facebook more than normal to check on your friends? Praying about protection more than usual?

Have you felt out of balance? Out of sorts? This is what might happen to children who all of a sudden rely on just one of their identities.

Let’s study our children and know all of who they are. Then let’s make sure we pass our observations onto them. It matters.



You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Physical identity

Spiritual identity

Spiritual Identity – Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

Spiritual Identity - Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

Spiritual Identity

Helping Your Kids Develop A Deep Relationship With God

In the first blog in this series about raising children with a complete identity, I drew an analogy between parenting and archery and bowling. I wrote this:

You have to know what you’re aiming for when you think about raising your children. What does your bull’s-eye look like? What would you consider a strike? Being intentional is wise. Having strategies to help you accomplish your goals makes it more likely that you will be successful.

Do you agree with me that it may be most important to have strategies for developing children’s spiritual identity? As important as the other identities are, if you’re raising your children to value faith and a personal relationship with Jesus, then strategies definitely matter.

But, first, what’s your bull’s-eye? What’s a strike when it comes to their spiritual growth and identity? Do they know? Do they agree? Knowing your goal – your bull’s-eye and strike – will help you determine strategies.

When asking 7th graders in June what they would consider a high compliment in the spiritual category, they answered with these phrases:

  • Be a good Christian with actions.
  • Peace
  • Close to God, godly man
  • Teachable
  • On the right path
  • Loving
  • Christ follower, faithful
  • Christ follower, disciple maker, missionary, the hands and feet of Christ, Christian
  • Faithful
  • Believer, passionate, bright from the inside
  • Disciple maker, believer
  • Have a strong faith in God
  • Close to God
  • Christian, heart for Christ, faithful
  • Faithful

Like with the other identities, their answers encouraged me. If these were my children, I’d be pleased. Do you see something here that you hope your children would list? What’s missing that you’d love them to aspire to?

I encourage you to make a list. Ask your children what they’d list and compare. This will help you see if they’re catching what matters to you and/or if you need to talk about everything more.

Once you’re set on some spiritual goals, then think about the strategies. How will you partner with God to try to cause your children to become who you want them to be?

What role will each of these play? Why?

  • Worship (Private and corporately)
  • Church attendance (youth group, Sunday school, children’s church)
  • Church involvement/volunteering
  • Bible reading
  • Bible study
  • Scripture memorization
  • Prayer
  • Quiet time
  • Family devotions
  • Service
  • Giving
  • Fasting
  • Sacrifice
  • Rest

Again, look at the list you made of goals for your child’s spiritual development. I hope you have more statements like, “Loves God” and “Spending time with God is important” than “Prays daily” and “Reads the Bible.”

Let’s always remember and explain that we do what we do to become who we are.

Read that sentence again. I hope you agree! We read the Bible to become devoted to God’s truths, to fall in love with God, and to discover how to live rightly. Pray to develop a more intimate relationship with God. We give to become more aware of needs and to discover God is generous. We fast to increase our reliance on God and to grow our faith.

You get the idea. Talk with your kids about who you hope they are spiritually and how you’d love to help them become those things by doing what’s relevant.


You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Physical identity

Complete Identity – Your Physical Self

Complete Identity - Your Physical Self

Complete Identity

Your Physical Self

Today I continue the blog series about helping children develop a complete identity with a look at the physical self. I’ve already written about the importance of several others. When you think about children having an identity related to their physical selves, what do you think of?

There are three components to this identity.

  • There is physical health. I remember when I was in grade 6 and a boy named Jay tripped me while we were ice-skating. He used a broom that we were supposed to be using for a fun game. His choice resulted in my right arm breaking. For weeks, all people seemed to notice about me was that I was in a cast and had a broken arm. That’s all they wanted to talk about. And I bet I enjoyed talking about it, too.
    • Children and teens with ongoing health issues can perhaps put too much of their identity in this component. Or, they might be forced to if that’s all people ask about or talk about when with them. People might not know about their intellectual, emotional, and social identities and which character qualities they highly value. This is definitely limiting.
  • A second component of the physical self is physical abilities. This certainly includes athletics. Teenagers who value this part of them, when asked who they are, will tell you first that they are a starter on the basketball team or that they enjoy playing soccer. Drama is also associated with physical ability because if you’re good at drama you can make your whole body look old even though you are young, you can laugh with your whole body to exaggerate when you are on stage, and you can stand as still as a statue if your role requires it for a while. Working with your hands with clay or the small motor coordination to do science experiments carefully is also part of the physical ability self.
  • The part of the physical self that most people think of first is probably the appearance self. Tall, short, overweight, slender, beautiful blue eyes, fair skin, naturally curly hair, …  you get the idea.

How Can We Talk To Our Kids About Their Physical Self?

In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read that God looks at the heart. He would want us to also. I enjoy telling children that there are very few people described by physical appearance in the Bible. When we do know something about the physical identity, it is because it is relevant to the purpose for which they were created. For example, we know Esther was beautiful because it is relevant to her story. We know Sampson had long hair because it’s relevant to his story.

If you don’t want your children and teens to over-emphasize their physical appearance selves, don’t talk about it often. If they hear you talk with others about their beauty or if you compliment them more about that than anything else, they’ll start to prioritize it. They might think it’s the basis of their security with you. They may think, “My dad doesn’t know much about me, but he sure thinks it’s important that I’m pretty.”

Would you want your children to talk about all three components of a physical identity if you were talking with them about their physical selves? Why or why not? What would you prefer them to say or value? How do you want them to prioritize this identity in relation to their social, emotional, character qualities, and intellectual identities?

What I Thought Teens Would Say

Those of you who have been reading my blogs, know that earlier this summer I spoke with several hundred 7th graders about who they were created to be. I asked them to identify a high compliment they could receive about their physical identity. I was stunned and very encouraged by some of the responses. These were what I thought many teens would list:

  • Strong, athletic
  • Fast, good-looking, athletic
  • Strong, beautiful
  • Sexy, fast, strong
  • Strong, fast
  • Pretty, athletic, fit
  • Beautiful, strong
  • Athletic, strong, in shape
  • Good at sports
  • Handsome, muscular, athletic
  • Physically fit, strong
  • Athletic

Check out these responses. What do they indicate? I think these young people are mature and were able to think of others and respond with maturity. How I wish that schools and church groups would be full of kids wanting these physical identities and looking for these identities in others.

  • Diverse
  • Beautiful in their own way
  • Comfortable, different, unique
  • Comfortable with yourself
  • Confident
  • Naturally healthy

What do you think?

Again, what would you prefer your teens or children value regarding their physical selves? Are you strategically parenting so they will? What are you talking about? Not talking about? What do you affirm? Do you criticize something over and over again?

Also, when we find out what children and teens value, what can we do to help them either achieve their preferences or change them if we believe they’re unhealthy or unrealistic? Think about this, too, and maybe talk with your children. For instance, 7 groups of my 7th graders value “strong.” I wonder what they mean by that and why it’s important to them. Would they like to work to become strong or do they just hope it will happen? What about “beautiful in their own way”? (I LOVE this one!) What thinking patterns do they need so they can believe this of themselves and others? What difference might it make? This would be such a great discussion!

As always, thanks for reading the blog. I praise God for your interest and teachability. Now, invest in your children because you took the time to read it. Oh … what if we invested in ourselves and our thoughts regarding our physical self? Yes, that might be worth it, too. For sure!



You can read the earlier blogs in this series here:

Introduction to blog series about a complete identity

Intellectual identity

Emotional identity

Social identity

Character quality identity

Names Can Be A Positive Source Of Identity

Our names are important to us. They can be a strong positive source of identity. This is certainly true for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When we know His names, we know a lot about Him.

The identity link to our names is among the reasons I wish more parents would be as thoughtful and purposeful when naming their children as some of my friends have been.

Especially when children know their name’s heritage, dreams parents had for them are reinforced when they hear their name. If your children’s names are significant, make sure they know the reasons. Tell them the relevant stories.

For my first example, let me share a short paragraph from pages 131-132 in the book Jill Savage and I wrote, No More Perfect Kids. I love the reason Jay and his wife named their son Jamison.

Kids’ names are important because they’re the first labels they’re given. If your kids don’t know why you chose the names you did for them, share your reasons, especially if you named them for a reason or because the name held significance. Kathy’s friend Jay and his wife named their son Jamison. Jamison was present as Jay told Kathy about his name’s origin and how much he had prayed for a son. Although it’s pronounced with a short i sound, his name means “Jay my son.” Although Jamison already knew the story, you should have seen his face while his dad explained it to Kathy. The connection between the father and son was beautiful and obvious.

And, how about the decision my friends, Michael and Meredith made? They’re expecting their second daughter and have named her Moriah Renee. They explain their choice this way: Abraham offered his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, where God provided a ram in the thicket as a substitute and it is near where He would ultimately provide His own Son as the perfect sacrifice to be the Savior of the world. The name means “God is my teacher.” Renee means “reborn.”

And now let me share about Zion Daniel, the son of David and Lindsay Eaton. They’re pictured above. In David’s words:

Let’s start with Daniel. Daniel means “God is my judge” and in ancient times he was quite a man of God. He was full of wisdom, courage, conviction, vision, and faithfulness. He was a shrewd leader and a servant of the people.

The name Daniel also means a lot to Lindsey and I because some of the most important men in our lives have that name! We knew that we HAD to name our first son Daniel just to honor them.

– Daniel Gee … Lindsey’s loving father.

– Conan Daniel Gee … Lindsey’s steadfast brother.

– Daniel Eaton … my annoying brother 😉 … that I deeply respect and admire.

– Jeremiah Daniel Callihan … the other cofounder at Axis who is a dear friend.

– Daniel VanValkenburg … an incredible friend from college and lifelong friend.

… and of course there are a host of other amazing Daniels in our life as well …

And the name Zion. It is a name with many meanings. Some think it means “bald dry place” as in the top of a mountain, but we prefer the meaning “monumental” or “fortress” that other scholars ascribe to the name. It is actually not a Hebrew word … but rather predates Israel. However in the Bible it is a very important geographical place and a concept. It represents Jerusalem, the City of David, and is the place of worship and redemption for Israel. It also embodies the future hope of followers of Jesus, of a restored world and the eventual city of God where God dwells with humanity.

One final thing that we particularly like. Any ancient temple like the temple on Zion or the temple location at Shiloh, our daughter’s name, was considered a dwelling place for God. It was a place where the veil between heaven met earth was thin. We like the idea of our children representing an overlap or intersection between heaven and earth.

I believe Zion Daniel, Moriah Renee, and Jamison are blessed to have thoughtful parents and rich stories and meanings assigned to their names. I’d love to know about your name or names you’ve given your children. Please comment below. Let’s encourage each other.

Thankful Hearts Extend Opportunities, Overcome Fear, and Embrace Friends

Last week, before Thanksgiving, I took the time to read a long Facebook post from a friend of mine, John Paulk. He’s the owner and Executive Chef at Mezzaluna Fine Catering in Portland, OR.

I had tears in my eyes as I neared the end of the post because John writes eloquently about reaching out, as an employer, to the disenfranchised. The hard-to-hire. The down-and-out. He writes mainly about one employee who has Schizophrenia. There, but the grace of God, go I….. That’s what was on my mind as I read. The statement I’ve bolded below affected me greatly.

I love what John has been able to do. I don’t know your story. You may not be able to influence anyone’s hiring practices, but what about friendship? What about not looking away when we walk past someone? What about eye contact? A smile? Expressing hope? Helping others understand?

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know all of us at Celebrate Kids believe everyone needs:

  • solid security placed in people who are trustworthy;
  • accurate, current, and complete identity;
  • healthy belonging based on quality relationships with people who are for us;
  • fulfilling purpose allowing them to use strengths and weaknesses to positively serve others; and
  • competence to be and do what fulfills their purpose.

John and his staff have provided all five of these for Jeff (and others). The example deeply inspires me. What can we do today?

Everyone needs their core needs met well. Everyone. All people. No exceptions.

Here’s John’s post. I pray you’re inspired.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reflecting on some of the incredible men and women who have come through the doors of Mezzaluna over the years that I’ve been incredibly thankful for. Since I often felt like a misfit myself throughout my life, I wanted Mezzaluna to be a place of respite for people—a place where the troubles of life could be forgotten for a few moments, and where joy and comradery reigned. I often have used my catering company as a place to help out people in need.

I once hired a man who was just released from federal prison who couldn’t find a job and needed a fresh start on the outside. I brought on a woman who had been a prostitute and drug abuser who wanted to become a chef. I’ve had numerous former strippers through my kitchen. During the economic downturn of 2008, I hired two men who were living in their Mercedes, and had lost everything–they had nothing and desperately needed a place to be productive and regain their dignity. I’ve hired those wanting a better future in America who were seeking to become permanent residents. I’ve employed conservative Christians who were not in favor of same-sex marriage, but who felt respected while working alongside others who were in favor of such unions. I’ve had esoterics who believed they were from the Planet Saturn, numerous recovering alcoholics, victims healing from being raped, teenagers wanting to learn a work ethic, housewives who needed a place to spend their afternoons.

11-30-15 JeffBut today, I want to tell you about someone who has come to mean a great deal to me personally, and to our company in particular. His name is Jeff Emery Wallace. I met Jeff in the spring of 2013 and we struck up a fast friendship. What intrigued me most, were his unique and highly introspective positions on life. Months went by, we hung out and became friends. I decided to ask Jeff if he would like to earn some extra money at Mezzaluna. He jumped at the chance. Jeff is a natural at this type of work. He is prompt, courteous, respective of others, a very detailed worker, funny to a fault, and always brings a smile to the staff.

Jeff is also schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder. It is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to control and a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as in delusions), perception (as in hallucinations), and behavior. Schizophrenia is a disease that typically begins in early adulthood; between the ages of 15 and 25.

We often see individuals walking around seemingly talking to themselves or arguing violently with themselves. Often these people are affected by Schizophrenia. Some people affected by this disorder have delusions and are affected by varying degrees of paranoia and tremendous fears, in addition to the devastating symptoms they deal with on a daily basis.

Individuals also have a tough time making sense of incoming stimuli, making it impossible to focus on seemingly simple activities, regardless of their intelligence or education level. In fact, a hallmark of schizophrenia is the person’s inability to sort, interpret and appropriately respond to stimuli. For me, I feared what I failed to understand. I looked the other way and crossed to the other side of the street to avoid these individuals.

But Jeff changed all that. He is one of our best employees. He is highly intelligent, consistent, a kind-hearted man—always willing to lend a hand, and a hard worker. That doesn’t mean we haven’t had our challenges. Our staff have had to learn to understand and have compassion for and recognize his behavior patterns, emotional states, and ways of processing his life. Our team LOVE and adore Jeff. Jillian has especially developed a huge heart and patience for him. She often can reach out to him when I or others aren’t effective.

Over the months, I’ve seen Jeff struggle to hold on and hang in there when it gets tough. He fights strong internal forces that wage against him. His disorder doesn’t want him to take his medication…it wants him to allow the plague that fights him to win. Jeff often tells me that he knows without his medication (in his words) he would be “crazy.” He also knows that without his medication that he would, eventually, be back out on the streets. But in the midst of it all, Jeff continues to take his medication and fight. We, at Mezzaluna, admire Jeff very much. He has a place in our work family and we love him.

I’m writing this story–with Jeff’s permission, because–both he and I–want to encourage employers to take a chance and hire people with disabilities they might not understand on the surface. People with schizophrenia are heroic in their attempts to keep a mental equilibrium, considering their disordered brain functioning. The proper response from us should be one of patience, compassion, and understanding.

Jeff is one of my heroes. He is a man to be admired. He is my employee. He is my friend.

Jesus Understands

While Jesus lived here on earth, He was fully man. Like me, you probably don’t think about that as often as you do the reality that He was fully God. That’s most often appropriate.

But, wow. Keep reading….

Jill Savage, my coauthor in No More Perfect Kids, does a beautiful job in her blog today of reminding us that Christ’s humanness is a reason He understands us. Yes, He does.

Jesus understands you and me. When I think about this, it makes it easier for me to pray and really share what’s going on in my life. Because He is God, he’s not surprised. Because He is man, he can relate. Because He is God, I can trust Him to care and to intervene in ways that are best.

Content, Grateful, Loved, And Single

When I was a young adult, my brother and his wife called me into their bedroom during a family gathering. They had never done this before, so I knew something was up.

Both Dave and Debbie spoke, but my brother took the lead. They just wanted me to know that if I remained single, they would always be my family. They’d remember my birthday and invite me for all holidays. If I needed something, they’d do everything possible to help.

Until they loved me with these statements, I didn’t know how badly I needed to hear them.

Our parents were still alive and in good health. I still had my old bedroom to stay in when visiting for holidays. But, Dave and Deb were correct – there would be a time when our parents wouldn’t be alive.

Debbie and Dave opened their home to several single women who needed a place to stay for various reasons. Getting to know them and their concerns prompted their declaration to me. They came to appreciate the very real issue for many singles – where will I go when my parents die and will anyone remember me on my birthday?

Am I Important To You?

Randy Thomas is blogging for me today. I’m sure he’ll inspire us and give us much to think about. I’m grateful for his friendship and role on staff as the Celebrate Kids’ Online & Social Media content manager.

Chapter four of No More Perfect Kids, is about the significance of a child asking, “Am I Important to You?” There was so much incredible information in the chapter, I drew stars, underlines, highlights all throughout the chapter. The part that I wanted to highlight for this post is this:

During many of Kathy’s student programs, she teaches about identity. In the session, Kathy has children and teens repeat out loud, “I am important, significant, and valuable.” She drives home the point this way with Christian groups.: “You’re not more important than anyone else. You’re not less important. You’re important, and so is everyone else. God didn’t have to make you, but He wanted to and He did. That gives you value. Not only that, but He made you exactly the way He wanted you to be.

When I was a toddler a psychic told my Mom that I would probably grow up to be a lawyer (highly detailed, analytical) and that my brother would most likely be on stage or a TV anchor.

As it happens, I turned out to be a highly extroverted writer and artist. My brother went on to get his master’s degree in an incredibly detail-oriented field. Not quite what the psychic ordered.

Lesson: Don’t listen to psychics. Their spiritual antenna is bent in the wrong direction!

My mother was a Christian and claimed to not put a whole lot of stock in what the psychic said. Regardless, I was raised to believe that I was an introverted analytical type and my brother was the carefree entertainer type. Her desires for us seemed to trump evidence that God had not made us that way. This led to a dysfunctional upbringing full of unrealistic expectations, and a pervasive sense of disappointment.

I Am Not A Number

The value of knowing who we are was never more dramatically portrayed to me than two weeks ago. I was both humbled and privileged to tour Fort Breendonk, a WWII concentration camp outside of Brussels, Belgium.

This wasn’t one of the horrific death camps where Jews were sent to die. Rather, it was a “work camp” with men imprisoned there for different reasons. Hundreds did die there. Some were shot. Some were hung. Many died because of exhaustion, bad treatment, and torture.

Who they were mattered and influenced who they became. The same thing is true for us and our children. Do they know who they are? If they don’t, they may not become who they could be. Today does influence tomorrow.