Teach Your Toddlers like they will one day be Teens
Just a year ago, before I knew I would be coming to God’s WORLD News, I was prepping for teaching an Ethics course at Blue Ridge Community College. The summer sun saw me evaluating text books, listening to podcasts, even talking with practitioners. My textbook of choice reminded me of two important educational conclusions:
- Teaching through story is one of the most effective methods for whole-person learning (see my blog for more on this topic).
- An individual’s sense of morality (or ethics) is established within the first six years of life.
Interestingly enough, these two things go hand-in-hand: Our little ones and their categories for life are shaped by the stories they read or hear. Literature based on the Christian worldview (or a redemptive narrative), firmly establishes a Christian foundation. This foundation speaks to identity & authority, problem & solution, purpose & expression. Early childhood provides the perfect moment not only to shape them with great stories (including the BEST Story), but also to shape their hunger for the wholesome.
The outcome of these practices is deeply encouraging. One recent example came to me while listening to the thoughtful folks over at Axis and The Culture Translator podcast. I learned from them that Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) has a prevailing characteristic: the desire for interactions and input that improve their lives rather than merely entertain. For some, this desire along with an appetite for authenticity, expresses itself in greater discernment regarding their choices involving social media, finances, and even intimacy within relationships.
Not all Gen Z operate this way, of course. In absence of a story that defines their God-given identity and purpose, many individuals turn to social media to fill in the gaps. By God’s grace, the BEST Story transforms hearts and restores identity and purpose. This lends us hope, reminding us it is never too late for redemption.
Deuteronomy 6:7-10 instructs us to teach our children diligently in the ways of the Lord. Let me also remind you: It is never too soon to start.
Parenting Teens Like You Would Your Toddlers
I few months ago, I listened to this profound piece on The World and Everything in It. In the segment entitled “Out of the mouths of babes,” Nick Eicher and Mary Reichard interview Dr. Rosemary Stein: a pediatrician with a 25-year tenure. Their topic: post-COVID developmental delays—and what to do about them.
This content is insightful enough in its observations; it does not require commentary from me. Therefore, I will keep my thoughts brief:
- Screen time in the home needs to be stewarded with great care so that we can maximize healthy learning and development.
- Conversation around the table is the very best thing you can offer your children for their whole-person development (cognitive, psychological, emotional, social, moral, behavioral, spiritual). I cannot emphasize this enough (and the data support it).
- Your teens need the conversational time—away from screens—equally as much as your toddlers because now they are both creating and reinforcing disciplines and relational practices they will take into their next phase of life.
Your children are asking: Do you care about me? Do you see me? By pausing to sit down and spend face-to-face time with them you are answering them, and that answer is a resounding YES!
I sincerely hope to interact with you to fine-tune the content I shape according to the challenges you face. Please drop me a line with a comment, question, or concern. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org—I’m listening!