How to Teach Kids to Find and Be the Good in a Broken World

By Jessica Wolstenholm


Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 (NLT)

In our current culture, it seems as though we need to crawl in a hole and hide from the world in order to avoid negativity and conflict. As parents, we try to shield our kids from bad news and bullies because we don’t want their tender hearts tainted at such a young age. I understand the tendency and I’ve struggled with it myself but I’m learning we can’t change the world by hiding from it. And I want my kids to know their attitude will make an impact by adding their beautiful brush strokes to the current landscape and painting it with goodness.

It’s their choice.

But kids don’t know they have a choice until we teach them.

Option 1 – go along with the world and let it discourage you.

Option 2 – find and be the good. Make the world a brighter place, just by being in it.

Parents want kids to be the best and make their mark with academics, sports, and the arts. We hope and pray they see their dreams realized and live a life full of abundant success. But true and wild success is first and foremost about character. The condition of the heart can make or break everything a person sets out to accomplish.

In the book of Psalms, chapter 27, David declares “The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” (verse 1, NLT) He goes on to confess that when evil (circumstances or people) try to attack, the Lord is his fortress. The one thing he seeks, he says, “is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections.”

Our prayer for our children (and for ourselves) can be the same. May we delight in the Lord’s perfections, seeing every little thing the way He sees it . . . broken and beautiful, difficult but redeemed . . . for His glory.

If we take the focus off outward circumstances and turn our eyes toward their heart we can cultivate a spirit of goodness within our kids. A heart full of goodness knows how to shield the world and respond to negativity, fear, conflict, and heartache with goodness and hope.

How to Teach Kids to Find and Be the Good

Practice seeking goodness. Teach kids to notice positive details; good and lovely things, people, and blessings. This good habit starts with us. The more we model seeking goodness in front of our kids, the more they’ll take on our positive attitude. But the more we complain and focus on negativity, the more negative our children become.

Ask: What is one good thing you noticed today?

Turn tough things upside down by looking for the bright side. There is always a way to find good in even the hardest situations, even if it isn’t immediately apparent. Practice digging in the dirt of your difficulties to find seeds of hope.

Ask: How can we turn this bad situation upside down? How do you think God can use this for good?

Implement a zero-tolerance policy (aka, goodness math). This is a wonderful family habit that can be practiced together. Every time you read, hear, or say something negative, remind each other to replace those critical words with good ones. Each negative thought replaced by a positive one equals zero, or a clean slate. Challenge yourselves to add 2 or 3 good things to the conversation and leave yourselves in a state of positive abundance.

Ask: What positive thing can we add to this conversation?

Affirm positive words and behavior often. Let kids know when they are shining bright. The more joy they feel when they add light to a situation, the more appealing it will become to find and be the good in their sphere. This may come through an act of kindness or by making a good decision that leaves a positive effect on others.

Ask: I am so proud of you! How do you think what you just did/said will add goodness to the world?

Look for the good in others. Encourage each other to be the type of person that looks beyond the mess to find the beauty. Ask God to give you eyes to see others the way He sees them. Purpose to bring out the best in others so that together, you can add multiplied goodness to the world.

Ask: How do you think God sees him/her? What is something special about this person?

Go out into the world and do well. But more importantly, go out into the world and do GOOD. Unknown

A path of goodness will lead our kids toward the bright future their Creator has planned for them. And I pray that as they travel, they’ll light the road for others to join them on the journey toward God.