How kids can win friends and influence people at school

Lauren Hamby

It’s possible for kids to slip through the school years, classroom to classroom, and never make a mark. It’s easy to go unnoticed. It’s an entirely different thing for them to follow Jesus, be a good influence, and be intentional with this time to build relationships with schoolmates and staff.

Help your kids have the best school year yet by putting on their armor and embracing their mission field each day.

Students don’t have to wait until they’re older to influence others. Just because your child is the student in the class does not mean she doesn’t have the opportunity to teach people: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

School Isn’t a War Zone; It’s a Mission Field

Every parent desires for their child to have a successful education that fosters a lifelong desire for learning and develops social skills necessary for work and life. You want your child to do well academically and socially, but what about spiritually?

A school building can be home to both mental growth and spiritual growth. To the Christian parent sending your student to a public school, there’s good news: a public school is not the antithesis of a Christian school. If Christ lives in your child, and she enters a school building for eight hours a day, 180 days a year, then any school can be an environment under God’s influence.

The school building where you drop off and pick up your child each day is a mission field. You wouldn’t send your child to school without the proper tools to be successful in learning: pencils, paper, erasers, and more. But is your student equipped to make friends, be kind, and inspire others? Similarly, you can prepare your student with tools to engage classmates and teachers so that ultimately the Gospel will be evident and others will see Jesus through his or her actions. You can take a step toward that goal through modeling the desired demeanor based on Scripture and with prayer.

5 Behaviors to Model for Your Student

1. Seek God

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Allow him to see you being a lifelong learner of the Gospel by reading the Bible and listening to what God says. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

2. Respect Authority

Parents, you set the tone! Don't talk down about your child’s teachers or administration. Don’t bail them out and undermine the teacher or the lesson God is teaching them in difficult moments when they struggle. Even if an assignment or homework seems ridiculous, tackle it with excellence anyway. Model an undeterred work ethic. Imagine what an example that will set. “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24).

3. Communicate Respectfully

Consider how you communicate with your spouse, children, friends, and acquaintances. Do you listen with the intent of understanding or responding? Are you honest with others?

Your child will know how to talk with his friends as well as adults at school based on what is displayed at home. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

4. Embrace Differences

The classroom will represent an assortment of students from the neighborhoods of your community. Teach your child how to respect other kids and teachers even if they’re different. Students come from different backgrounds when it comes to academic abilities, learning styles, interests, socioeconomic statuses, races, and religions. Because of how you embrace and love all people, your child will have an exemplar for how they should treat others.

Build relationships with new friends, neighbors, and people who don’t know Jesus. Arrange play dates with classmates and invite them into your home — and not just the ones who look and think like you. What a great opportunity to teach the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

5. Pray for Leaders and Peers

Pray for your child’s teachers and classmates before the school year even begins, and continue to cover them in prayer for the remainder of the year. Whatever names you find on the schedule for the upcoming year, pray for them, and rest in the knowledge that Jesus ordained their teachers and peers. You can trust He knew what He was doing. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

As this school year begins, cover it in prayer, work to model these behaviors, and make it fun! Check in with your student and challenge him to make this the best year yet.

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