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Questions about child development and training are often sent to Young Child Ministries. This page is dedicated to
the questions and answers from parents just like you. If you would like to email a question to
Dr. Gillan Byrne, simply click on her name and type away!


Q:  How can I make Jesus “REAL” to my little ones?

In our world today, there is so much artificiality and unfortunately, that artificiality is very tangible, especially for a young child.

Artificiality is target marketed to the young, concrete mind. Young children are literal thinkers. They believe what they see; they believe what they’re told.

Parents are continually shocked at how much effort is required to teach their child about truth, reality and meaning.

The key to making Jesus “real” for our young children lies in three things: Relationships, relevance (realism) and reverence (respect).

 

Q:  Does it really matter if I skip church this Sabbath?  I have a baby - she can be very disruptive, I'm tired from late night feedings and aren't they too little to understand anyway?

It matters a great deal! From birth, the young child is learning; they need not be able to mimic or parrot you to be learning.

The whole point of taking a little one to Sabbath School and church is to begin the long process of developing relationships and reverence.

As the child become accustomed to SS and church attendance, they should begin to look forward to the weekly rituals and routines that encompass the Sabbath hours.

Part of the equation of relationships, relevance and reverence is that at church, relationships are being formed with the other church family members and reverence (respect) is being modeled.


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Q:  I read that Arnold Glasow says: “Parents can tell but never teach, unless they practice what they preach.”

Jesus never had trouble attracting children to Him. Why was that? Do you remember that old poem “Children Learn What They Live”? Indeed, children learn what they live.

One thing to remember: If the God of Heaven is not converting your heart and soul, if He is not making noticeable changes in your life and behaviors, then He’s not going to be attractive to your children – or anyone else, for that matter.

This is part of the relationship and relevance equation: As the converted Christian’s relationships become more Christ-like, the relevance of Christianity and one’s need for Christ is realized. It’s not enough just to go to church every week, be religious, talk religion, go to religious schools and activities.

Your personal character needs to be changing so that you more closely reflect Jesus Christ. It’s that reflection that draws children to you – It’s that reflection that draws children to Jesus.

 

Q:   How important is it to have daily family worship?

Relationships, relevance and reverence are all part of the same equation. Let me explain:

1.    Relationships are deepened and strengthened when the family gathers around each morning and evening to learn about the God of Heaven. It’s hard to maintain grudges and selfish behaviors if you are consistent with your family worship time. Family prayer time is a great barometer of where your family is spiritually – of where you are spiritually.

2.    Relevance is something that is developed by the parent connecting the SS lesson with worship time at home. Sing "Jesus" songs and hymns, read stories, act out stories, play memory-enhancing games. Most importantly, recite to the children how God has answered your prayers, blessed you, kept you safe, comforted you, etc.

3.    Reverence is also something that is developed by the parent during the worship time at home and during day to day life. Saying “please”, “thank you”, making kind requests rather than demands and being critical and exacting. “Little attentions often given” – this is how we teach reverence. If you think of it, reverence is respect and includes a child’s respect for the parent, the parent’s respect for the child, respect for others, respect for authority, church, etc.


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Q:  Can you give me some practical ways that I can make family worship enjoyable for my young children?

I once received a call from a mother wanting me to make a recommendation of some videos that would help her four-year old child learn about Jesus. If your goal is to teach your child about Jesus, then you, as the parent, need to do the teaching; it’s your personal relationship with Christ that will draw your child to Him.

One of the best ways to teach your child about Jesus is to take them outside; share Jesus and His love and care through creation and creatures. The Ladder of Life Series books and the My Bible Friends set are fantastic resources. No need to have dozens of books; repetition is important and necessary and these two sets of books will be useful to you for the first 3-4 years of your child’s life. Then for the 4-6 yr. old, there’s also the set of Forever Stories. For the 6-12 yr. old there’s the 10 volume set of The Bible Story books. Sure there are other books out there, but you’ll have to invite me to give a seminar to find out more about how to choose materials for your children.

Family worship time can take place inside or outside. In order to teach reverence, though, there should be no distractions during worship time. Sing "Jesus" songs and hymns, read stories, share your joys and concerns, act out stories, walk through the Bible, play memory-enhancing games that reinforce previously learned concepts and information. Use musical and rhythmic instruments for singing. Provide pictures to look at that depict the story being told or read. Provide stuffed animals if the story is about an animal. Wait on the art, craft or coloring activity until after the lesson. Keep worship time short and enjoyable; avoid lectures or mini-sermons. When the story or lesson is over, ask questions such as “I wonder…” & “what if…”. Find opportunities to have the children use their imagination. These are all preparatory steps to learning deeper, spiritual concepts.

One thing we like to do in our family is to try and connect the worship story with other stories in the Bible (e.g. how one story impacts another story in the Bible). We also like to ask the question: “What does this story teach us about Jesus?” Then, too, there is the challenge of finding the symbolism in stories.

For instance: The story about Elisha and the poisonous pot of soup. He asked for a handful of meal and threw it into the pot – as if a handful of meal would magically take away the poison from the wild gourds. So we talk about the handful of meal, what it represents (meal=flour=bread=Jesus, the Bread of Life), and how the symbolism is relevant to us today. It makes worship time enjoyable and at times, challenging.   


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Q:  How do you deal with the young child who does not want to go to church because it’s boring/not exciting?

In order to prepare your child(ren) for church, you must set up the home environment first.

The relationships need to be healthy. If there’s fighting in the home, you need to seek counseling from someone that can help your family come before the Lord. When the relationships are healthy, the respect, or reverence, will follow.

Relevance, though, is harder. In many homes, parents have done away with T.V., video games, iPads, Tablets, and other forms of electronic entertainment. One reason is that brain research has shown that it does not help, but indeed hinders, brain development, especially the development of the frontal lobes which is the center for higher order thinking, self-regulation, decision making, problem solving, sequencing events, remembering. The emotions are centered here, too – sympathy and empathy as are our language, socializing and attending skills.

Truly, if your child thinks church is boring, look carefully at how you are keeping them entertained and focused at times other than church. Church and school cannot compete with electronic stimuli. Church and school require mental and physical participation and self-restraint. Electronic stimuli only requires passive participation and it provides instant gratification - but - instant gratification will never produce self- restraint, self-control or self- regulation.

A word of advice: Incrementally decrease the amount of electronic stimuli in your child’s life until you can successfully eliminate it for all entertainment purposes.


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Q:  I’m so frustrated – I’m so overwhelmed! Help!!!!

Pray.

Pray for your children; that God will make Himself real to your child, somehow, each day.

Pray for your spouse; that you will love and respect your spouse as God has instructed you to do.

Pray for yourself; that you will grow in grace and wisdom; honoring God and bringing glory to Him as you strive to become more like Him.

 

Mothers, angels are standing near waiting for your prayerful invitation to assist you in your daily work with your children.

 

Fathers, always keep in mind that you are the key to the success of the family. When daddy is walking with God, mommy will follow and the children will follow mommy.


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Q: 
I have a four year old daughter who is hyper active and very stubborn, she is only four but I find my self loosing it the way she behaves.

A: 
I too have a very busy, stubborn, strong-willed four year old  daughter. Remember, Jesus said:

... "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

The good news is that your daughter is only four years old. You still have time to correct errors. The bad news is that the problems we face with our young children are a result of our own actions as parents. That means, your child is reflecting back to you what she sees in you; how she views you is what she sees you doing day to day. 


"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).


Now, mentally reflect on your day to day life with your child. 

  • Do you spend time in prayer with God, talking about your struggles with your child; seeking His guidance for solutions to your specific concerns?
Your number one weapon against Satan and his power is prayer. Daily and moment to moment. This is especially true if you find yourself getting angry with your child. You must pray at those moments or you will be destined to continue acting as you have in the past. When you feel anger - pray, pray, pray for help and guidance. Your God in Heaven is there to help you. He will impress upon your mind what to say and do. His answer to your prayers will be specific to your immediate need and to your child. He loves you. He loves your child. He will work with you to save your child from the enemy of souls.


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Q:  My first child worries me - she laughs when I punish her.


A:  If your child is laughing at you when she is disciplined, this could indicate that she has no respect for you and that your discipline techniques are not effective. The points I've outlined for you here are a good starting place for correcting these issues. I encourage you to continue reading.
  • Are you spending time with her? Has she been given too much freedom? Do the responsibilities of work and home keep you too busy?
Too often, responsibilities of the home and job overwhelm us. Our mind is preoccupied and our stress level elevated. These two factors will cause you to lose patience and your temper with your child. For some reason, we expect a four year old to be consistently obedient. However, a four year old has a mind and will of her own. A four year old  has ideas and thoughts, wants and wishes. A four year old want to do her own will and submitting to a parent is irritating because the will is crossed. 

As the parent, you must spend more attentive time with your child. Make a list of the duties and responsibilities that are required of you at home and work. Pray over that list and tell God your timeline. He will take care of these in due time. With your mind free of worry, enjoy spending time with your child - play together, work together around the home, in the garden, completing errands, etcetera.  At four years of age, a child should have a simple list of responsibilities which can be accomplished successfully on a daily basis. 

Remember, in order to be an effective parent, you must spend time with your child. This will help establish your authority and reaffirm your unconditional love.
  • Are you leading her to Christ on a daily basis in prayer and Bible study? 
There is nothing more important than prayer and Bible study. The development of a child's character is formed by all the impressions received. Be sure that the impressions and lessons (music, books, activities, etc.) are of a heavenly nature, lifting the child's thoughts up to Jesus throughout the day. 

Read Bible stories to your child every day, several times a day. Explain and expound on them. Sing Scripture songs, hymns, and recount stories of how God has led in your life. Then, as opportunities are presented, relate the lessons of the Bible stories with real home-life situations.
  • Is your child spending time with playmates? Who is supervising this playtime?
The lessons our children learn from peers, or the parents of peers, can be very disheartening. However, the impact can be diminished with time, repeated explanations, proper guidance and more diligent supervision during playtime. We should carefully monitor the associations of our children and lead them into friendships with children whose families share like beliefs and customs. This will strengthen their character development and assist you in laying a firm, spiritual foundation.
  • Has your child been exposed to the books, music, television or computer games that have themes of this world and have nothing to do with Jesus? 
... "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

Look around your child's environment(s) and measure everything - everything - by Philippians 4:8. If you're uncertain about a particular item, put it away while you pray for guidance.  Then follow the Holy Spirit's leading. It might be difficult to throw away some items, or a whole set of items, but your child's salvation could depend on your willingness to obey the Lord's leading.


I hope these answers have given you something to think and pray about. Changing the relationship with your daughter will take some time, but it can be done. God has promised to be your helper (Psalm 54:4). Be strong and of a good courage (Joshua 1:9).



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Q:  My 3 month old has the need to suck so bad she gave me a hicky on my arm last night when falling asleep... it's clear she needs a binky [pacifier] sometimes, but [I use it as] a last resort.


A:  I wouldn't make my life difficult worrying about a binky [pacifier]. Weaning is a process but it's not hard. Trying to comfort a fussy baby who needs to suck for comfort is a lot harder. Your job for the next 2.5 years is to create as strong a bond with your child as you can. You want her to want you and your husband for comfort, play, sustenance, help, guidance, etc. The bond happens naturally, but the attachment you create from here on out will strengthen that bond.


And by all means, pray that the bond with you is stronger than any other bond she might begin to develop with anyone else as she grows older.



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Q: Someone on facebook advised me to contact you about a concern i have. I wonder if you could help me. Here is my concern:
When I first had my baby I had such a hard time in life. Just came out of abuse and death of my mother. Was totally alone and being uncared for. My husband was supportive up to a point but I was hard to live with. I had a lot of anger issues. My baby was very difficult also so I was even more stressed and sleep deprived. Sometimes, if my husband and I had a fight, I would get violent. Times when I was holding my baby and asking my husband not to come near me but he did come toward me so I kicked him away. Other times, I would get so angry I would scream and curse or sometimes even scratch or hit. All while baby was watching. I feel so worried about how this will affect my baby later in life. I do not act like this anymore as I have worked through my issues, but I heard that kids learn this behavior as babies and then start acting it out when they get to about 4 years old. My baby is now almost 4. Has anyone been through something like this? If so, I'm just wondering if your baby grew up with any behavioral issues?
Thank you.

A: You are not alone. Yes, our infants and toddlers learn to behave by how they see us behave. They learn to talk by how they hear us talk. The good news is: Your child is still young. You have the opportunity to retrain, both yourself and your child. I'm going to give you a link to a page on our website. Read it over, then let's talk some more. If you're like me, you're going to need a support system of parents going through the same situation. http://bit.ly/N56cy7

As parents, our first responsibility is to God. 2 Corinthians 10:3, 5-6 says: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh... Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

Training a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) requires constant attention to the little things - in us, our environment and in our children.

Training a child in the way they should go requires tact and right methods, constant seeking of the highest culture of mind and soul, a restful spirit, loving heart, a mild but firm manner. It requires attention to precepts and examples - constant attention to detail.

Because a 4 yr old is quite literal and concrete, you'll need to help explain things; especially if they are symbolic, representational icons or phrases. Talk about facial expressions, behaviors/actions, words and tone of voice - both good and bad. Tell your child what these mean, how they are interpreted by others, how to act like Christ.

Take the lessons to heart and pray that God will make you the example your child needs. Indeed, your child is your mirror and you will struggle with past behaviors.

God has promised:

"The righteous cry, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants: and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate" (Psalm 34).



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Q: Is there a paragraph on how TO obtain obedience? It’s all well and good to say what NOT to do, but I need a replacement tactic. Let’s say my 4-year-old is deliberately dropping his chewed up food on the floor, and teaching his baby sister to do the same, all the while laughing maniacally and ignoring polite requests to cease and desist. How do I “obtain obedience” without scolding and threats?

A: Yes, indeed! Praise God!  

  1. Instruct patiently
  2. Exact obedience
  3. Surrender myself to Christ
  4. Ask Christ to go with me to my child
  5. Pray with my child, asking Him to come in and rule our hearts and home
  6. Instruct patiently, again
  7. Exact obedience still
  8. Surrender to Christ… not to impatience
  9. Ask Christ to go with me – to go ahead of me – to my child
  10. Take decisive action, if necessary
  11. Pray with my child, asking Him to come in and rule our hearts and home
  12. Repeat, repeat, repeat

Now for the practical application:

After giving your son the instruction to stop a particular behavior, stop and wait for his obedience. While you wait, silently pray for the Lord’s help with him and for wisdom as to the next steps. If the child ignores you, repeat your instruction patiently but move physically closer to him, all the while watching for obedience. Again, silently pray for help!

If he obeys, smile, thank him and then require that he kneel down with you in prayer (you and he in a room alone). He must learn to ask for Christ’s help to resist Satan’s temptations to do wrong. He can then go back to the table to continue eating.

If he does not obey, kneel beside him and give him two choices: “You may choose to do what is right by obeying, or you may choose to do what is wrong by continuing to _______. If you choose to continue this behavior, you will have to leave the table.” If he persists, he’ll need to leave the table and go to his room. Continue to pray as you help him to his room. He may hit, kick and scream, but if you continue to pray, you’ll have the power of Heaven, unseen, but very real.


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Q: My 4 year-old throws screaming fits - hitting, kicking, screaming. I lose my temper with him and sometimes scream back. I know it's wrong, but how do I stop these fits?

A: When dealing with a screaming child, I do not leave him alone. Stay in the room with him. Maintain a calm demeanor, but stand inside the door, waiting and praying silently. Whenever there’s a brief silence, ask, “Would you like me to hold you?” (Why all this? Because the child is angry and anger makes one feel out of control. He needs to see and sense that there is someone in control. It ultimately builds trust and strengthens your authority.)

This means you’re missing out on something; but so is he. (You’re in this together.) When his fit is finished, hold him, rock him, love him. Pray with him while he’s on your lap being loved. (The closeness will help him experience control which will one day transfer into self-control.) Talk to him about wrong versus right; Jesus versus Satan; choices that we must make. When he is calm again, ask if he would like to try (the missed activity) again?

Now the two of you can go back to whatever it was that you were forced to leave. He’ll need to clean up any mess he’s made. Remind him if he needs help to ask. Sit close to him; smile and love him. At some point, he’ll need your help to apologize to the rest of the family for his behavior. That will come in time, though.


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Q: I need your help providing me with some material regarding promoting a 5 yr old to first grade. The mother told me that the teacher fears she would get bored because she is advanced and would like to send her to first grade. Can she do that? I would very much see her being the top of the class all through [rather] than being at the bottom in years to come.

A: I would counsel against sending a 5 year old to first grade. In the primary grades, social and emotional maturity is most important and can cause life-long issues if the child is not on the same social and emotional plane as their peers. Academics can be modified for varying ability levels, though. If the child is advanced, the teacher must do the adjusting – not the child. Remember, the child’s character is still being formed; pushing her at this time will alter that character formation and not necessarily for the best.

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Q: There is a program that is being launched in the area to all of the preschools. I am going to an information meeting on Thursday but I wanted to get your opinion on it before I went. [It's called] "soul purpose parenting".

A: I visited the website you sent. Here are some key phrases I found as I read:

  •   Demonstrate to them the deep spiritual joys that are possible by being a mutually connected TEAM, 

  •   The key to lifelong partnerships is a reciprocity in fulfilling EACH OTHERS deepest needs

  •  Communicating your needs in words is a "hit and miss" prospect at best.

  •  "The Golden Rule" never assures you of lasting happiness in a relationship 

  •  …with this spiritually evolved parenting TEAM you’d be teaching your children

  •  we’ve developed a set of unique tools which will empower you

  •  When you have this magic window into the other person’s deepest drives and tendencies there will be absolutely NOTHING you can’t accomplish.

  •   a Parenting TEAM will be seen by their children as having a sort of magical psychic bond

  •  this mystical understanding of the minds of others…  

  •  transform yourself AND YOUR FAMILY into the kind of spiritually bonded unit


As I read through the website, I found myself reflecting on several Bible verses and asking myself several questions.

When I read “mutually connected”, I turned to Ephesians 5:21-25 & 28 where Paul talks about husbands loving their wives and wives submitting to their husbands. Remember, too, that God told Eve “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). This made me question the foundational premise of this program, but I kept reading the site.

“…fulfilling each other’s deepest needs” caught my eye. At first, it would seem that it was talking about intimacy, but as I kept reading, it was clear that the topic was “understanding… minds”. Communication is how we typically understand what’s going on in each other’s minds, so I had to ask “What?” and “How?” is this website going to help parents understand each other’s minds? I then found the phrases “spiritually evolved”, “magic window”, “magical psychic bond”, “mystical understanding”, “spiritually bonded unit”. These phrases made me uncomfortable. These are not Biblical or Christian phrases.

Then I read this: "The Golden Rule" never assures you of lasting happiness in a relationship. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” This website was directly contradicting Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

I was ready to stop reading, but in fairness to you I continued. The website claims that they will “empower you” with tools so that you can “transform yourself and your family”. I’m not sure what tools they will be teaching: Paired meditation? Centering? Not sure. All I know is that my Bible says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:16). The power that I receive to make changes in my life comes from the God of Heaven.

As for transformations, 2 Cor. 11:13-15 warns us of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” In other words: Anyone who claims to teach truth, yet contradicts God and His word, is false.

From my review of this website, it appears to me that Soul Purpose Parenting is a New Age methodology for introducing spiritualistic concepts to parents and young children. If you’re seeking a deeper relationship with your spouse and children, then “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

I hope this helps. My prayers will be with you.


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