Often times, we forget how sensitive a child can be. It’s because after so many years, each of us has grown and become hardened and developed our own “social awareness” and defense mechanisms, so we just naturally expect children to think the same ways that we do.
However, the fact remains that between the ages of 2-7 years, a child undergoes rapid growth, more than at any other time in their lives and this time period is crucial to forming their lifestyle habits, personality and interests. They don’t actually see the world as we see it, until we reflect our impressions of it to them.
Whatever you tell and relate to a child in those years becomes gospel truth to them and therefore, the words you speak to them are of extreme importance. Your words shape their world, their self-image and how they experience life. Although I am not a mother, I work with children and I wanted I give some output from my experiences.
1) Know the difference between mistakes and misbehavior.
When it comes to correcting children, I fully support you. Even if you want to physically punish a child, within reason of course, according to the Bible, that’s fine. But how would you like it if your boss fired you for reaching ten minutes late for work once, with a good reason? Or if something went wrong with the printer at work and you were chastised for it without cause?
We should always want our children to know that it’s okay to make a mistake.
Also, for them, they are now learning concepts like weight, gravity, space etc. So, expect many accidents. The juice falls, the food falls, they fall, just expect it. Accidents should always be treated with patience and a simple explanation of a more effective method to use. For example “you have to hold the plate with two hands the next time so that the food won’t fall out.”
If we chastise them because of simple accidents, children will grow up feeling like failures and also with a great sense of fear and intimidation. They have to know that just because they make a mistake, doesn’t mean that they are a mistake. In contrast however, if you have told a child 5 times not to throw things or not to run in the house, that is called misbehavior. It’s very different from an accident and that I will say, deserves punishment.
2) Never make a defining statement over a child’s life.
Stay away from negative sentences that start “you always…” Or, “you are very …” A child simply does not know who they are and whatever you tell them about themselves, even if you don’t really mean it, they will believe.
If you tell a child “you are good for nothing” or “you are a naughty boy,” don’t be surprised if they really behave that way. Your words would have actually reinforced their behavior, making the child act that way. A more effective way to deal with the situation would be by saying “You are such a sweet child, why you are behaving like that? That’s not like you…” Additionally, always speak God’s truth into their lives. To do this, you yourself have to know God’s Word. I know many people have told their children of the Book of Ephesians Chapter 6 “children, obey your parents”. But, some other great truths are, “you don’t ever need to be afraid” and “you can do all things through Jesus” and “Jesus is always with you!” You can lead your children to trust and love Jesus from a young age so they grow up knowing that God is for them and forgives them.
3) Keep things realistic.
I have heard of a few parents who tell their children “if you don’t listen, the monster will come for you!” Why is it that if you are a parent or you work with children that your authority and your words aren’t enough? You shouldn’t have to depend on an exterior source of fantasy to instill fear into a child in order to make them obey.
I once had a teacher who told me that if I didn’t listen, I would be thrown down the staircase. I’m an adult now and I know better, but when I was a child, I sure believed her. And you know what? Because she tried to make me feel afraid rather than have respect for her, I grew up hating adults and became very rebellious. I actually grew to defy each adult’s authority because I knew there wasn’t much they could really do to me.
I found out that no teachers had Santa Claus on speed dial and they definitely didn’t have any monsters either.
If you want to gain a child’s respect, be assertive and firm.
Don’t allow them to speak to you in any way that they want, and just be an adult. If they misbehave, do something realistic like taking away play time. That way you can say “if you won’t listen, you will not go outside to play.” So if they don’t listen, you really can keep them inside and they will know that you mean business.
4) Don’t criticize.
Every parent wants the best for their children. But, many parents think that the best is perfect grades, straight A’s and a child who studies day in and day out. You should always work towards bringing out the best that is already in your child rather than overworking them.
How many times have I heard from parents: “Susie down the road can read! I want my child to read! I’m going to make him sit down and practice every single day!”
Rather, we should focus on discovering who God made our children to be. The last thing that a child needs is to be compared to other children. That is a doorway to insecurity and never feeling accepted in their lives. There doesn’t need to be a whole lot of pressure to be perfect because each person is unique and made in God’s image.
You should rather encourage your child to be themselves, never give up and always try new things. You don’t want to make a child feel discouraged in their life concerning school when you give them unrealistic standards. There’s more to life than school. There are other aspects of a child that need to be developed such as social, emotional and physical skills. School will come soon enough.
Let them enjoy their lives a bit.
5) Kids learn from you- what you say and do.
As I previously mentioned, I’m not a parent. However, I’d imagine if I actually had children, I’d never allow them to do or say certain things. And not too long ago, I decided to live that way too. Jesus Christ challenged me with the television programs I watched, the way I spoke and the situations I found myself in. He asked “If you had a daughter would you want that for her?” and of course my answer was a definite “No way!”
It’s not that anything I was doing was bad. However, I wanted a child that would be holy and set apart for God. And the surest way to promote that is with my lifestyle. I know now that if I ever have children, their first instinct will be to admire and adore me and want to do every single thing the same way as I do. It’s really unrealistic to expect your children to behave in ways you don’t when they learn from what they see.
Children don’t generally respond to a lecture. What they see and hear is what they will do.
I experience many times children repeating what I say in my job. They repeat it to each other and in their conversations. Because of their love and respect for me, they believe and trust that whatever I do is the right thing. Therefore, woe is me if I do not the right thing for them.
If I say “remember to say thank you” you can bet that if their friend forgets to say thank you they will be reminding them too. So I encourage you, the way you interact with those around you, the things you say and the way you carry yourself is of extreme importance in working with children.
These are just five simple tips for you to see life through the eyes of your children. If you think back I’m sure you can recall the adults who did damage to you and to your life. However, nothing is too great for Jesus Christ to deal with. Give it over to Him, and allow Him to shape you into a great role model for these children that He has entrusted into your care.
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