Earlier this week I was sitting in my office with a box of muffins on my desk. A vendor had stopped by to pay a visit and brought breakfast for my team. These were from Magic Muffins, a local bakery here in Birmingham. There was a wonderful assortment and the muffins smelled great. Scents of blueberry, banana, chocolate, and that general sweet bakery smell filled the air. You can imagine the temptation.
Here’s the problem, though. I’m trying to drop a few pounds so I’ve been watching my calories. I’ve been running on about 1,500 calories a day for the last three weeks. I can imagine that these muffins have 400 calories or more and that just one would sink my daily plan.
So, hard as it was, these muffins sat on my desk for several hours. My team came by and picked them up throughout the day and talked about how good they were. Fortunately, I was able to exhibit restraint and did not partake of the muffins. But I can imagine any one of my children facing this same dilemma may not have fared so well.
Temptation is everywhere. As their world expands, the temptations facing our children will become greater. Instant gratification or guilty pleasure can be a powerful thing. So how do we help our children manage temptation? I’ve got a couple of thoughts.
Remove temptation where possible. The best antidote to temptation is to avoid it. Perhaps your child struggles with food. Or, they stay up late at night playing video games. One of our kids had a problem using his cell phone late at night. When he couldn’t manage the temptation himself, we had him charge it in the kitchen instead of his bedroom.
Talk about your own struggles with temptation. By talking about your own struggles, your child gets the message that they aren’t alone. They begin to understand that temptation is normal, but more importantly they learn that it is something they have to deal with. Share your victories and your defeats, and the outcomes from each.
Give them reasons to resist the temptation. This is the time to teach self-control and discipline. Talk about the long-term benefits and consequences. When possible, share these reasons as pictures, images, and real-life examples. This makes it more real to them. Teens especially have a hard time with risk and reward. They understand the differences but are more motivated by reward. Painting a vivid picture of the risk associated with a temptation is one way to change that motivation.
Reward them for defeating temptation. Let’s face it – resisting temptation means that immediate gratification disappears. It can be hard for a child to find reward and satisfaction in that. Find some alternate reward for your child as a substitute. They need to learn that there are trade-offs, and rewarding the desired behavior provides some level of satisfaction.
Meeting with temptation is not a bad thing. It simply cannot be avoided altogether. Yielding to temptation is when the trouble starts. Resisting temptation comes down to self-control, which parent must teach to their kids. And we can get a little help from God, according to 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV).
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Discussion Question – How do you deal with temptation? What victories would you share with others? Join the conversation!
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