How to Talk to Your Kids About Temptation

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“…And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”

As we say the Lord’s Prayer, we are reminded that temptation is virtually everywhere in our society today! Whether it’s seen as benign and even “funny” in today’s media or if it comes on the heels of peer pressure, one thing is for sure: our kids are bombarded with opportunities that will tempt them! The weeks leading up to Easter are a great time to discuss the concept of temptation with our kids.

One of the best examples for us to use when teaching about temptation is Matthew 4:1-11. This is the story of how Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days. Jesus was hungry, tired, and in a state of physical weakness. Satan took advantage of this setting and tempted Jesus several times.

Temptation is the desire to do something–probably appealing– which we know we shouldn’t. What temptations do our kids face each day? Maybe wanting to watch inappropriate television, gossip, take something that doesn’t belong to them, lie, cheat, argue with parents or teachers?? As kids get older, the temptations they face also get more difficult to handle or ignore. Promiscuity, alcohol consumption, pornography, drugs, and other bad choices all start out as temptations. Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

How do we teach our kids to fight against the temptations that they’ll encounter?

First, it’s important that we discuss our children’s personal temptations with them, so we can better address virtuous solutions as opposed to blanket statements like, “You shouldn’t …” If your child is faced or has been faced with a specific situation (even one that they have succumbed to the temptation) it’s a great starting point to teach them what some alternatives might be. Smaller children can learn well by giving them story examples of temptation and having them discuss what the character in the story might do instead of following through with the temptation.

Here’s an example taken from a Kids Sunday School activity: Julie was eight years old. Her mom told her to not watch scary movies at night because they could give her nightmares. But Julie thought she was old enough and mature enough to watch these movies anyway. Besides, she had already seen a few scary movies and nothing had happened! One night mom was busy helping Julie’s older brother with an art project. Julie knew that there was a scary movie on tv, and wanted to watch it. Mom wouldn’t know if Julie watched the movie. Julie is being tempted to watch this movie, what should she do?

When we read about Jesus’ temptation in the desert, we learn that He fought off Satan using Scripture! It’s so important for all of us, no matter what our age, to look to God’s Word for strength when we are battling temptation. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”

Daily prayer, rooting ourselves in God’s Word, and assisting our children with the idea of accountability are all wonderful ways in which we can help them through the jungle of temptation which is all around them.

How have you taught your child to deal with temptation?

Lisa Strnad is an independent contractor in Christian media as a writer, marketing consultant, and public relations specialist. She speaks to Christian women’s groups on the issues of motherhood, home schooling and raising a child with special needs. Lisa and her family make their home in Nashville.