By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

Remember the “What Would Jesus Do?” craze? It is a great question, right? When you think about the words and the meaning behind them, it is a solid concept. Teaching our children to think about what Jesus would do is something worthwhile but should be more than a slogan on a bracelet or a shirt. It’s a way of living.

How did Jesus treat others? Jesus was selfless, giving, caring, and listened to what others had to say no matter how similar or different they were from him. Empathy, is a life skill we can teach our children from a young age and build on it as they grow. You can teach your kids to ask questions like, “What would Jesus do,” or “I wonder how they are feeling.” My favorite is walking into a room with a child and hearing them ask by word or action, “What needs to be done?”

Great idea, but you may be wondering how can this be accomplished? It is pretty simple really. Look for situations where a friend or a family member seems sad or angry. Work with your child at his/her age-level to brainstorm ways to help or make a difference in the situation. Little by little, you will notice your child starting to developing empathy for others and acting on it by themselves. I saw a great example of this recently outside of the Ponies room. We had a first-time visitor who was unsure about attending class that morning. One of the girls in the room noticed the struggle and made her way over to help. She sweetly talked to the visiting child and told her that she would love to play with her if she would come in. She noticed a need and went over to help. Teaching empathy and teaching our children to look outside of themselves is a gift for a lifetime. Instead of asking, “What would Jesus do”, ask “What can I do to show the love of Jesus?”

He is Risen!

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist
Woodland Hills Church

This week, we remember the saddest day history has known and the greatest, most joyous day since the dawn of creation. We remember how Christ’s love for humanity took Him to the Cross, where He laid down His life to redeem each of us. We celebrate that death itself could not hold Him, and that, three days later, He rose again, forever tearing down the barrier between us and life eternal with God.

So how can you help your children understand these two important days? Here are some ideas for you and your family to try:

• Go for a walk as a family. Point out how the winter cold caused many of the trees and plants to lose their leaves and even die, and then send your kids on a hunt for new life as grasses, plants, and trees are beginning to sprout and bud amidst it all. Explain how Jesus chose to die on Good Friday because He loves us and wanted to make a way for us to be with God forever, and because He rose again and came back to life through God’s power, He is always with us, which means we are never alone. He is always there to help us follow God and know His love.

• Put small treats in plastic Easter eggs and hide them around your house or yard without your kids knowing. On Easter morning, let your kids hunt for the eggs but tell them not to open their eggs just yet. Once all the eggs have been found, sit down as a family and, taking one egg, open it up to reveal the treats inside. Tell the kids how Jesus’ friends were very sad and afraid after He died, but when one of them named Mary went to where His body had been laid, she found an amazing surprise, too – Jesus had risen! The tomb had been opened up, and angels were there to say He was alive again.

• If you have Preschool or Elementary-aged children, read together through the stories of Good Friday and Easter using an appropriate version of the Bible (such as The Jesus Storybook Bible for young readers or an NIrV Bible for older readers). After each section/story, stop and talk about what it would have been like to have been there, how people might have felt, and why Jesus did what He did in each situation. Save the story of the Resurrection for Easter morning.

• Grab a large piece (or multiple pieces) of paper and, reading through a children’s Bible, draw out the story together as a family, talking about each event as you draw it. Place the pictures somewhere they can be seen, and on Easter morning, retell the story found on your Easter mural.

This Easter, we encourage you to take the time to really think about and celebrate as a family what Jesus did for us all over 2,000 years ago. After all, it is the greatest story ever told, and it’s one we celebrate every day of our lives with Christ.

How Do I Train My Children to be Emotionally Intelligent When I’m Not?

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

When I moved out of my parent’s home, I resolved to raise my kids differently than my parents. So, when my first child was born, I revisited my vow to improve upon the parenting skills I inherited. At first, this seemed easy, but one day I caught myself responding to my crying daughter in the same angry, hurtful words and tone that were used on me. This shocked my system enough to realize I needed more than just a willingness to change – I needed help.

One crucial aspect of the parenting legacy we can pass on to our children is emotional intelligence or the ability to rightly relate to others. It boils down to five skills: Identifying personal emotions, using emotions to promote thinking, understanding emotions and their meanings, managing personal emotions, and handling relationships well. None of us will get it right all of the time, but for those of us who didn’t inherit strong intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, we may really struggle to promote these skills in our home life. If my emotional intelligence were graded, I’d score a C- at best.

So, how do we equip our kids to be emotionally savvy if we aren’t? First, we can seek God’s help. God created us in His image, which is the perfection of emotional intelligence, something the Bible describes as righteousness. Jesus promised to provide us a helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide us, equip us, and even pray for us when we don’t know what to ask for or say. The fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5, reminds us that as we grow closer to God, our heart and our actions will began to resemble His. We will find peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, love, joy, faithfulness, and self control, all traits of being emotionally intelligent, in our lives. Just by spending time connecting to God in prayer, worship, and studying His Word, we can learn these new skills.

Second, we can begin practicing one skill at a time. Start by naming your emotions when they bubble up and look for their source. Look for things that trigger negative emotional responses such as angry outbursts or frustrations and search for a way to prepare for those moments rather than just react to them. For example, if your child often causes you to leave late in the morning, come up with a plan and prepare for the next time it happens, seeking a solution ahead of time rather than letting emotions push you over the edge.

Third, surround yourself with a community of close friends. Being able to be open and transparent with others in a non-judging environment allows you to process through emotions, be accountable as you seek to change patterns of behavior, and find solutions to break old patterns.

As parents, the most influential approach to teaching our kids to be emotionally intelligent is to model how to relate well to others in a variety of settings, including at home. This requires intentionally working with our own emotional response patterns, being willing to apologize to our children when we make mistakes, and seeking help from God and friends. Being able to connect relationally with others will help your child in his or her relationship with God, as well. Providing a legacy of emotionally intelligent children is worth all the effort, hardships, and time that it takes to change our patterns and help them to develop healthy ones in their own lives.