Sometimes parents are so busy with their daily responsibilities that they don’t think about giving their children practical, common sense tests. The kind of tests that challenge their thinking in the areas of responsibility, following instructions, saying no, spiritual faith, and respecting and forgiving others. Do you really know what your child would do if they were approached by someone claiming to be your friend? What would they say if a person asked them for money? How would they deal with a bully enticing them to fight? How much do they really know about sex and could they say no if propositioned? These are real issues that children face. As well all know, some of these children have had to deal with adult issues at younger and younger ages. So what can we do to find out what they know about life, test them. This goes beyond sitting down and questioning them like a detective at a police station. Rather we must be creative, entertaining, and unforgettable in our approach. In this way they will retain the wisdom they have been taught and actually use it when the time comes.
In my situation, I didn’t realize just how much my youngest son needed to be taught about standing up for himself, just saying no, and avoiding tempting situations until I put him to a series of tests and to be quite honest he failed. I learned more about his personality and interests from giving him hypothetical situations that he had to problem solve, then I would have ever learned just sitting down conversing with him or by reviewing the homework he brought from school. I also learned what I needed to do to enhance my own parenting skills.
I couldn’t help but wonder had his teacher noticed where he was lacking, and if she didn’t, my tests would shed some light on subject areas that may have been overlooked.
So I am sharing with you what some of those tests were and how you can implement them with your own children.
The Test of Responsibility
I wanted to see if my son could handle taking orders. So I would ask him to do a list of tasks for me. He wasn’t focused on what I was telling him, and actually did some of the things completely opposite of my requests.
You can provide your child with a list of chores or give them fun things to do that they will have to complete by a deadline you set. Also, add one or two challenging things you know they can’t do to see how your child would problem solve. After they have received their instructions, leave them alone. Avoid the temptation to supervise, it may make them nervous.
The Test of Written Instructions
You can’t do anything in this world without some form of written instructions. So I performed a test on my son similar to the Test of Responsibility except this time, I prepared some home work sheets based on his grade level. Then I added my own instructions to it and gave him so much time to complete it. My purpose was to see if he had good reading comprehension skills.
You can create your own written tests for your children and observe whether they did well with you in the room or out of the room. If you had to be in the room the whole time to ensure that he or she stayed focus, this may also be an issue that the teacher has with your child in the classroom, and at some point she or he will send home a report with comments similar to the following: “your child has a hard time focusing…he (or she) is often doing other things when instructions are given to do something else…I often have to walk over to his (or her desk) to ensure the tasks are done.”
The Test of Saying “No”
Pretend you or someone you know is a stranger or someone claiming to be a friend of yours, try to persuade your child to do something bad. I pretended like I was an older child trying to get him to take some candy pills from my hand that I pretended were drugs, my son took the bait. His reason, “Well you said it was candy.” So if the stranger told him it was candy he would have took him up on the offer? I was disappointed that he hadn’t passed what I considered to be a very simple test.
When you inform your child you are just role-playing, make a point to put pressure on him or her by being nice or being mean and watch how they react. Correct them if they take the bait and explain to them why they should be saying, “no,” not “yes!” Sometimes my son would not react at all to my hypothetical situations, he may not have understood, but for some he did, he just didn’t know what to say or do. I took the time to discuss why doing nothing also can be a problem as well. I encouraged him to talk with myself, his dad, or someone at school about issues that made him feel uncomfortable.
The Test of Faith
I wanted to see if my son knew anything about Christianity and other faiths. He told me his views then I challenged him on them acting like a know-it-all big mouth, “Did you ever see God? How do you know he exists?” I also explained to him why people worship and how various types of worship may affect him positively or negatively depending on which path he chose to follow.
The Test of Respect
I was curious to see if my child had created his own racist, sexist, or prejudice opinions. So I acted like I was a little girl who thought he was cute and talked and talked and talked. It turns out that he didn’t have much respect for little girls. He was tempted to push and shove me while I acted obnoxious. So we talked about the appropriate ways boys and girls should act toward one another. I also tested his response to authority by role-playing once again. I paid close attention to how he responded to a buffoon principal and a crazy teacher. Instead of exercising some self-control, he acted just as crazy as them. I discussed why “the monkey see, monkey do” response is not appropriate no matter how old the person might be or what title they hold.
The Test of Forgiveness
I posed a hypothetical situation where someone had said something hurtful to him and listened to how he would handle what they said about him. He wanted to pay them back, so we talked about why revenge and being bitter toward them doesn’t help.
After conducting these tests and taking the time to explain why my son should have reacted differently, I felt that he and I were on our way to better communication and understanding of one another, since we had our challenges in this area too. Hopefully the tips discussed in this article, will also help you with connecting with your children. By the way, these tests can be used with any child who knows how to reason, read, and write. I recommend parents with teenagers use these tests as well. I remember as a child my own parents had their own variations of tests for me, I learned more than if I would have sat down asking them a bunch of questions.
By Nicholl McGuire