I was talking with my daughter the other day when the topic of how to resist temptation came up. “Mom,” she said, “why do things that are actually bad for you so look good?” That’s temptation in a nutshell. She was on to something. When it comes to underage drinking, sex, or other temptations kids face, we need to help them understand how temptation works. Because for them and us, what tempts us does often come across as alluring, or we wouldn’t be tempted in the first place.
For example, we can tell our kids drinking isn’t good for them, but when every beer commercial they see features laughing and smiling people, it can sure look enticing. For that reason, there are three things we need to share with our kids about resisting temptation. That way, they’ll be better able to turn their back on it when the time comes.
Here’s How to Teach Your Kids to Resist Temptation.
1. Look below the surface.
Things aren’t always what they seem. We need to be frank with our children that, yes, things that are tempting can look really good. It can look cool to smoke, but get a little closer and smell that bad breath that goes along with it. Same thing with sex. Yes, it was designed to be pleasurable, but in the wrong setting, it can lead to unplanned pregnancy, disease, and emotional heartache.
So since temptations look good, we need to teach our children to look behind appearances — what they offer up front — to the reality of the complete package of what they actually offer. Alcohol can taste good, but underage drinking can lead to arrest and brain damage. Even drinking as an adult can lead to the risk of alcoholism. The bottom line is: We need to teach our children that because something looks good or feels good, it doesn’t make it right or good for them.
We need to teach our children that because something looks good or feels good, it doesn’t make it right or good for them.
2. Stop. Danger. Go no further.
When the biggest nuclear disaster in history happened in Chernobyl, Russia, the engineers ignored this system warning six times: Stop. Danger. Go no further. We need to teach our children that in moments of great temptation, it’s best to just stop, and get away from the temptation. For example: If they’re caught up in the heat of the moment — on the verge of having sex, about to say yes to drugs or drinking — they can’t expect themselves to calmly and logically assess the situation and logically consider the long-term consequences. Nope. They need to say to themselves, “Stop. Danger. Go no further.” And get out of there.
We also want our children to know that if they put themselves in tempting situations, they might eventually get worn down. Help them avoid temptation overload by putting into practice these 12 ways of hands-on parents.
3. Everyone is tempted.
Everyone is vulnerable. Most children really do want to do what’s right, and lots of kids think they’ll never be tempted. But everyone is tempted at some point. Talk to your child and tell her that it’s okay to be tempted and that if she is tempted, it won’t make you think any less of her. Let her know that she can come to you when she’s facing any temptation.
Having said that, when she does come to you with a temptation, stay calm and think through what you’ll say. Thank her for talking with you. Reassure her that you love her, and then remind her that everyone is tempted and that it can be faced and handled. You can also share your personal stories of resisting temptation, mom, and what you learned along the way. Give your children the tools for how to resist temptation and they’ll be better empowered to beat it when it comes.
Let’s Talk: Have you talked to your kids about handling temptation? What did you say?