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TRAIN UP A CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO: BIBLICAL COUNSEL FOR ADD (Part 4)

21 Jan

As I got ready to upload a few new posts, I realized that this last part of my ADD paper never made it onto the blog. Many apologies.

To read the prior articles click on these links:

Biblical Counseling Plan for the ADD/ADHD Child and Parents

Upon embarking upon a counseling plan for ADD, the problem that parents present to the counselor comes as nothing more sophisticated than one line, “Help me control my child.” The biblical counselor must help the parent look towards a higher goal. While the child may not initially receive any biblical counseling, he too presents a problem to the counselor. The child presents the problem of his unique behaviors as well as the associated pattern of decision-making, and the consequences for such actions. While the DSM V lists a certain range and variety of observable behaviors that a psychiatrist uses to assess the presence of ADD, the biblical counselor, unlike the psychiatrist, must labor to address the desires of the heart motivating each of the behaviors. The biblical counselor aims for something much higher than temporary fixes. The biblical counselor seeks to have the child internalize the way or process he should go and follow it.[1]CounselingChildren

To that end, the biblical counselor helps the parents and child to think biblically about the real goal of counseling. In the first session the parents and child should adopt the biblical mission of pleasing God as they bring up this child. The child must know that all the efforts made will help him to please Christ with his everyday activities and relationships. Great hope should come from adopting this mission since they can through Christ accomplish the task and please God! If the child does not know Christ as his Savior, the pastor should talk to him about this, but give his parents the privilege through some helpful pamphlets to lead the child to faith.

An early growth assignment should help the family envision how to make the changes necessary to please Christ. Directly after problematic behaviors, the biblical counselor should encourage the parents to ask and record the child’s response to the question, “What did I want more than wanting to please God?”[2] These results will help parents to see what goes on in the heart of their child and provide invaluable help to guide the biblical counselor and family to make some changes.

In subsequent sessions, the family will need to begin to create for themselves a new pattern of life. The pastor will emphasize that they all must train themselves to act in righteous patterns; not merely accomplishing standards. With the results of their log, the biblical counselor can help them to address individual problem areas in order to help the child make better decisions. The parents and the children should have the biblical counselor’s encouragement to continue to make their own family catalog of biblical solutions for ADD behaviors. Perhaps they could purchase and model their family catalog after Rita Jamison’s fine little booklet ADHD in The Biblical Counselor’s Toolbox Series. The booklet takes each of the criteria in the DSM-IV for ADHD and offers a brief biblical answer as to how parents and children can address these behaviors and underling motivations. Even so, each family must personalize their approach to each individual child.

To please God, the family will need to focus upon establishing a formative discipline structure for as many circumstances as possible. Since each child has unique abilities, the parents should tailor their child’s discipline structure to his actual abilities and responsiveness.[3] In order to accomplish this sort of tailor-made structure, the biblical counselor should help the parents by outlining a step by step growth assignment with a checklist of questions to assess changes or proposed parts of their discipline structure.

  • First parents should ask, “What motive do I have in proposing this?” If the motive falls short of pleasing Christ in raising this child, it should not make it into the plan.
  • Almost as important, the parents must ask, what must my child do in order to please Christ now? Having already researched and discovered biblical answers to ADD related issues will help the parents to answer this question.
  • Then the parents should ask, “How does what I propose help the child learn to please Christ?” Each method or environmental change may need testing with the child to see if it does help him to learn to please Christ. Sound, light, temperature, distractions, and arrangement of the rooms all have proven to influence how a child learns or behaves.[4] The child’s input will prove invaluable and simple to obtain by asking questions like do you like the room to be cold or hot?
  • This leads to the final question. Parents should ask, “How can I bring my child, his teacher, church members and others onto the team to help my child please Christ?”[5] Most of the time the answer to this question leads to developing closer relationships with teachers and others who have involvement with the child. The parents share the helpful pointers they have discovered about their child with those who have contact. To include the child, the parent should talk him through certain choices, always seeking to help the child to better understand the desires of his heart.

This desire to help the child please God should also drive the parents to establish a redemptive system to correct him as a part of their overall discipline structure for the child. This may include spanking or some other form of consequence, but must offer the child the opportunity to confess his sin and receive forgiveness. With these tools the biblical counselor has an outline for how to help parents in most situations.

Summary and Conclusions

            Far from the panic that the two parents faced when they first met with their pastor, then now come into his office with a new sense of hope. When they first sat down with the pastor he reassured them that seeking biblical counsel at a time of major decision certainly pleased God. He also pointed out that with the various different viewpoints on ADD and the medications sometimes used to treat it, many choose to go to extremes rather than think about what God might providentially seek to accomplish. Finally, the pastor opened God’s Word and reminded these parents of how God uniquely made their child and desires that his future glorify Christ. The pastor made it clear to them that they could make an eternal difference in the life of their child if they would resolve to train him how to please Christ.


                [1] Warren, 115.

                     [2] Jamison, 5.

                     [3] Welch, 53-55.

                [4] Warren, 55.

                      [5] Ibid, 34-38. The list in the paper was inspired by his list to assess whether or not a parent should place a child on medication, and its subsequent usage through the book. Changes were made to make it more consistently biblical.

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Shepherding

 

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