Teaching Our Children How To Be Gentle

Since the day my son came out of the womb – he was a rough and tumble little guy. It’s the way God wired him! As a toddler, he rarely cried when he fell or bumped his head and as a school boy he is very high energy. It’s hard to keep him from running, jumping, climbing and diving in the house! lol! He loves contact sports and has played flag football with the public school kids for the last 4 years. This year flag football was a lot like (full contact -minus- the pads) +plus+ some flags! I did a lot of wincing and turning my head – it was hard to watch! He also takes Karate and gets to do a little sparring while learning discipline, respect and tenacity. And then there’s basketball. He is currently playing in the public school league and this is his sport. He loves the non-stop running and to be honest – it seems to be quite a full contact sport at his age also! The kids are still learning the fundamentals of a foul! lol!

I love that my son can use his energy appropriately through sports, but at home this has posed a bit of a challenge. Sometimes he gets his coat out of the closet like he’s going after a football – he throws an elbow at his sister, whips his coat out and dashes out the door leaving her knocked on the floor wondering what just hit her.

This is where manners come into play. Clearly, there’s a long list of manners that are missed in this very simple – and sadly common – coat scenario. First, ladies before gentlemen would solve the entire problem – right? Secondly, words like – “excuse me”, “I am sorry”, “are you okay” “let me help you up” or “you can go first” would also help.

I have taught my children manners many times. Some weeks I’ve been a heavy enforcer and then with the hustle and bustle of life, the manners slide without me noticing. So I ordered this hand book titled: Proper Manners and Health Habits, to begin in the new year and I was so surprised when I opened the book and saw the title to Chapter 1!

Chapter 1 is titled “Gentle Words” and oh boy was I excited to tell the kids that they would be joining me for the January WLW “Gentleness Challenge” – this is a family venture!!!  Like us – children need to learn to use “Gentle Words”.  So what words are considered “gentle words?”

And there you have it.  Lesson 1 for teaching our children to be gentle!  These are the words of the month in our house and I’ve been clapping each time they use them…so yesterday Alexis said “thank you” and I kept on doing what I was doing.  She called me out on it – “mooooooooooom, I just said thank you.”  I said, “your welcome.”  Then she repeated – “no mom, I just said thank you.”  I repeated, “your welcome Alexis” a bit confused…she said – “aren’t you going to clap mom?” lol!  Children love praise which goes with yesterdays post (and by the way – clapping is SO much easier than a sticker/rewards chart and extremely effective – try it – clap and hoot and holler for your kids when they do good – they will light up – they will stand taller!).  Let’s teach our children to be gentle through using good manners and remember to praise them 10 times more than we correct them!

Walk with the King,


  1. I love this post! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the be kind conversation with my kids! My son, who is rather high strung, often times has a million things running through his mind on a daily, hourly basis that he sometimes forgets how to use his manners. In public though I have gotten compliments numerous times for how well mannered he is being. I was even told thank you from someone before who also added that you don’t see a lot of that anymore. Talk about one proud momma!!! I will definitely try to implement some kind of word or gesture for us to use so that we can all be held accountable for good manners. Great post, thank you!

  2. This is great I call my 4 year old the Juggernaut from the comic books because he starts to Run to go some where and tumbles everyone and thing in sight. I am always trying to get him to slow down say I am sorry or excuse me sometimes he let out a what out Gabe which is his 2 year old brother. always in the way of him.

  3. I love it!! Your son sounds very similar to mine! 🙂 Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how much of that rough and tumble stuff is okay because it’s just part of being a boy (I’m very much a girlie girl and grew up with all sisters, no brothers!) and how much of my wincing is for good reason. 😉 Definitely, though, gentle words, politeness and thinking about others are musts! Your book recommendation looks great–thanks!

  4. Thanks for the tip on the book you are using with your kids. I just ordered one for us. Love the GMG study and the Gentleness Challenge. I really need that, sigh…

  5. This reminds me that we need to teach our children how to act (proper manners) rather than expecting them to just do it. I admit that I have failed at this time and time again. I’m very interested in looking into the book you got for your children because teaching the kids through the book is exactly what I mean. How can I expect my children to act a certain way if I don’t teach them? Thanks for this reminder!

  6. I just want to let you know that to me you are an awesome example of a women ministering to other women through your blog. Thank you so much for your time and energy you put in. You have a way with words and a gift of mentoring. If you ever have any suggestions of how we could encourage other women to do this in our churches. I’m praying for our older women to take us under their wing. So many women have never had a mentor they are just treading water with what they are given.

  7. I have two rough and tumble little boys so I can definitely relate : ) I’ve seen this book before, but wasn’t sure about it. I”m glad to see that you’re enjoying it. Maybe I’ll have to reconsider this purchase. Thanks!

  8. I have a rough and tumble 2 year old son and man, I can relate to the “diving” in the house:) Sometimes I think he might explode if I don’t open the back door and say “RUN”;) But manners are a big thing to me, especially when I realize how many are missing whenever Sunday school rolls around. While he may be too young to understand the difference between girls and boys, he has no problem making sure the rest of the kids aren’t in his way.
    It amazes me how God works. Just about this time last week I started really focusing on encouraging my son with praise and thank you’s just for doing good and it has changed his demeanor immensely. His little eyes light up and sparkle at me and rush to find the next thing I will clap my hands and praise him for. Thank you so much for this challenge. It has given me so much to work towards becoming a godly, sweet mother and it is showing up in my son’s life already! God bless you!

  9. Thank you so much for your openness and honesty about the joys and challeges of motherhood.
    Your gentleness challenge has been so inspirational for us as we parent our adopted sons.
    To God Be The Glory.

  10. My little man is just two and already a rough and tumble boy! We call him Tigger for the bounce that he brings to EVERYTHING. I love this about him but it’s challenging to know how to teach him to temper his zeal sometimes. His father was very much like him when he was little and was pretty much raised by his akido teacher rather than his parents. But I’m glad because he needed to learn meekness, power under control. Thank you for your Gentleness Challenge. It’s been a real blessing to me! I pray for it everyday! To whisper more and praise more!

  11. As an educator of 37 years and an elementary school principal, I am so encouraged when I learn of mother/fathers-parents-consciously teaching their children “gentle” words. I spend a lot of time as a “corrector of behavior” and one of the things I find myself teaching so often is saying “I’m sorry.” Example: students are active (like your son), running around and one student bumps another students. The fallen student reacts with “He pushed me down.” At some time the other student has mumbled “sorrrry”and run off. Children DO need to learn the word and behaviors of “I’m sorry.” It means stopping and stating it clearly. It means that concern (gentleness?) is shown toward the other person, “Are you okay, can I help you?” Thank you for encouraging me that parents do still fulfill their role of parenting!

  12. I have a boy just like the one you described… He has the very same issues…and he is the oldest of our three…so he has a younger brother and a little sister…. I have noticed that praise goes further with him than with the other two. He lights up…he is proud that Mommy noticed his good deed…he tries a little harder after that to repress that which his body wants to do, but his mind and heart knows not to do…like running in the house, jumping on his bed, climbing on the furniture! 🙂 So, I am with you 100% on how far a little praise can go. I hope to do better in this….

  13. Very timely Courtney! My son climbed into bed with me this morning and we proceeded to have “tickle time” which involves a lot of me saying “gentle, buddy, too rough, careful, don’t scratch your sister” etc. I have been telling him to be gentle for 6 years now and wonder if he’ll ever get it!
    Thanks for this challenge, I am not always (ok, rarely) gentle with my words (particularly my volume level) and this is a much needed reminder that my children are watching my example! May God continue to bless your ministry!

  14. I love this! Thank you !! I found your blog/website a few months ago, and I have to tell you, it has been such a blessing. I truly look forward to reading each days new posts.

    Thanks again and God bless you and your ministry 🙂

  15. Oh wow!!! Thank you for this amazing post! It spoke volumes to my heart and life today! I have 2 sons similar to yours. My 2 year old accidentally head butted me just a few minutes ago and then laughed hysterically. I had to really work on not getting angry as it hurt and I was so sad. Thankfully with lots of prayer and whispering I was able to share with him why that was not gentle or kind to Mommy. Thank you for your very timely post.

  16. This is too funny! Just the other day I told my husband that I’m thinking our son needs etiquette classes. You should have seen the look on both of their faces. My 12 year old wrestles and rides steer in Junior Rodeo. Sometimes he just needs to be wrangled in a little, I don’t want to ‘wimp’ him up, I just want him to be a little more thoughtful and courteous.

  17. You described my son to the “T”!!! So glad to know there are other boys like him. We have our boy in wrestling and even in wrestling I am trying to teach him to use these words during that time as well. He can be even to rough in wreslting with his own team mates and he tends to scare them off. He is getting beter with his sister, I can say he has made her into a tough little girl. I think if she can handle brother she can handle anyone!!! 🙂 What a great post. Thank you!

  18. It is so important to instill gentleness into our children! I do not have any kids, but as a teacher I see the effects of gentleness. Particularly–when a father is gentle towards his wife and daughter, he teaches his son to do the same.

  19. Oh my. I am having a rough morning (due to allergies) and I really needed this post this morning. I love when my 4 yr old son gets excited about something he has done well and begins clapping for himself because we have done it so often that he expects it.

  20. I, too, try to teach my children gentleness. I think it’s a trait missing in a lot of homes and lives today. It is a root character quality from which many others can flow.

  21. I had to laugh at your comment to jump and clap and hoot and hollar! I do that with my kids and when they were young they liked it 🙂 At thirteen though I get my oldest rolling her eyes at me! I do it anyways and they will not miss that I am excited that they succeeded at whatever we were working on. 🙂 Thanks for another good post

  22. Courtney, today I thought of what you wrote here about your energetic boy, when *my* energetic boy said, during school (home school), “I think I need to do a circuit!” My husband thought of this idea awhile back when I was sharing with him how antsy my son becomes sometimes when he’s doing work at his desk. Now I will occasionally tell him he can get up and do a circuit, or he asks me if he can do one, and, if he has been working diligently overall, I will allow him to. A circuit in this case is just 5 push-ups, 10 jumping jacks and 10 seconds of running in place. He loves it, and it helps him work off some energy, does his body some good, and often helps his frame of mind, too. 😉

    Also, I’ve been trying your clapping idea today. I have to laugh because I thought maybe my 9-year-old “tough guy” would not care about being clapped for, but thought I’d give it a try anyway. He actually looks quite pleased each time I clap! Who knew? lol 🙂 Thanks for that easy and effective idea!

  23. Ok, male point of view. Of course all of your boys are rambunctious, they’re boys. I like the idea of the “circuit”; men/boys are much like dogs, once they release their pent up energy, they are much more obedient and focused. Also, ladies, the hooting and hollering will not last as an incentive to be gentle. Your sons need to be instructed by someone they respect(DAD). Not that they dont respect you in a certain way, but not like another male figure would be respected. Your husband needs to give them the reasons why to be gentle. Finally, gentleness is a fruit of the spirit. Your sons need to know why they should be gentle. The answer is in the Gospel. Have your husbands teach them that. Actually, never mind, let your husband lead your home. Start there.

  24. Thank you so much for this post! I love the proper manners book and went ahead and bought one as a tool to use this summer with my son 🙂 I feel very spoiled by God to have been put in charge of such a tenderhearted sweet boy, and I know this workbook will help him learn the importance of taking care of himself. I am especially excited about the part in the book that talks about food and encouraging the student to write out a meal plan. I can’t wait to see what he will come up with 🙂

    Thank you!!

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