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How to change your Dennis The Menace into a firecracker for God

Meet my granddaughter, Autumn.  She is a three year old with more uncontrolled energy  than any child I’ve met and with a determination that rivals Rocky Balboa or Louie Zamperini from the movie Unbroken.

Dennis the Menace Firecracker God

I’ve never helped to raise a child with so much energy, determination and stubbornness.  When she sets her mind on something it is almost impossible to deter her.  At three most of her actions result in mini disasters at our house.

She is fast also.  Leave her alone for one minute and it could be a disaster.  Her calmer five year old sister will usually come in yelling come see Autumn, it’s a disaster, it’s a disaster.  Usually she is right.  We spank her, put her in time out and talk with her, all of which seem to have zero effect in deterring her behavior.

When I listed to the book Unbroken (don’t watch the movie.  It was very disappointing compared to the book.) I realized that Louie and Autumn share a common temperament, unwilling to quit and always getting into some trouble.

If you have a child like this, you know what I mean.  They keep you constantly on the move and a respirate is just a temporary lull in the storm.  So how do you guide them growing up?  You know if they stay away from drugs and other life destroying temptations that they are going to be someone who changes their world, either for God or evil.

So how to you change your Dennis the Menace into firecracker for God?

Here are my thoughts.  If you have a hyperactive, strong willed and stubborn child write your experiences in the comment box.

First expose them to God and his love for us.  That is the one thing that is life changing.  In the book Unbroken Louie survived terrible torture in Japan only to come back and fall apart after the war.  His wife convinced him to attend a Billy Graham event.  That night he gave his life, along with all the bad experiences to Jesus and his life was forever changed.  (The movie left that part out.)

For your kids it might happen at home, church, summer camp or retreat.  I can count in the hundreds the kids I know that have had their lives changed through youth group, summer camp or retreats.  As I write this my granddaughters are down at summer camp at Mt. Shepherd, a Methodist retreat center in Asheboro NC.  At three and five they’ll get to go swimming, do crafts, get exposed to the outdoors, hear God’s Word and get exposed to God’s love through the counselors.

Next help them to find something that they are passionate about and let them focus on that one thing.  At three it is hard to tell but she loves anything involving a ball.  So while she has been to young to participate in soccer there are soccer summer camps available for three year olds in my area.

Going back to the book Unbroken one more time Louie’s life was turn around when his brother got him involved in running.  Ends up he was fast, really fast.  So fast that he probably would have set the world record had WWII not put an end to his career.  For me growing up it was sailing.  I got pretty good, usually capturing one of the first three places in any race, except for the world cup where I placed 13th in our fleet.

Any child needs something that they are good it.  It gives them self confidence and teaches them skills they will use throughout life.  When you have a strong willed child they’ll throw their hearts and minds into a sport they love, allowing them to not only learn a skill but excel as well.

If you live in the United States or other developed country send your children on a short term mission trip.  It will expose them to other cultures and help them realize the Christianity of America is not the norm.  In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy love he says:

During my time in India, the commitment level of believers there shocked me.  I visited thousands of Christians who had been beaten or watched relatives murdered for their faith.  At one point, I said to one of the leaders, “Every believer seems so serious about his or her commitment to Christ.  Arn’t there people who just profess Christ but don’t really follow Him?”

He answered by explaining that nominal Christianity doesn’t make sense for India.  Calling yourself a Christian means you loose everything.  Your family and friends reject you, and you lose your home, status, and job.  So why would anyone choose that unless he or she is serious about Jesus?

Mission trips can be life changing.  Matthew and Andrew Jones founded Poverty Resolutions after visiting Haiti and living for 30 days on a dollar a day, which is the average wage in Haiti.  I’ve included their story below.

Finally pray for all your children, especially your high energy, high maintenance child.  God can use them in a special way.  Don’t get discouraged and don’t stop praying if they don’t come to God as teens.

Comments or suggestions?  Be sure to write them in the comments box.

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