Friday, February 6, 2015

Teaching Your Child to be Teachable

I command you to read this entire chapter of Proverbs before you hear anything that I have to say.  It will remind us that our children do need to listen to us.  They do need to be teachable.  The Bible tells me so.

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is like the shining sun,[a]
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Your child is often learning something new and/or something they dislike.  Whether it’s a new or old school assignment, a new or old chore, a new or old character lesson.  Whatever it might be, you are trying to teach it and they are not getting it or they think they get it and would rather you stop telling them that they don’t have it. 

How do you teach a child to be teachable?  How do you prepare and soften a young heart to be open and humble enough to learn and be challenged and corrected so that his heart is a growing beautiful garden of LOVING TO LEARN and choosing to be a HUMBLE LEARNER.  How do you teach them to be open to learning and mastering something new?  What is the formula to keep the door of their hearts wide open to the challenges of being the HUMBLE LEARNER?  To being the one that that doesn’t get it yet but is willing to start with the baby steps.

It’s frustrating to be the kid that is constantly being trained in something new.  But it is an absolutly normal, necessary part of childhood.  I’ve been racking my brain for the perfect analogy and then I hit a wall…just kidding.  The analogy IS a wall.

When your child is learning a new thing it is always going to be like a wall for them to climb over.  Have you ever been on a mud run?  Or possibly stood on the sidelines and laughed and pointed at people in a mud run?  It seems the perfect analogy for what your child’s brain is going through when they are learning something new.  They’re running along enjoying the wide open space to “run with it” but then they hit a wall…

They can’t go under it.
They can’t walk through it.
They can’t run around it (unless they’re cheaters and nobody’s trying to raise cheaters).

They have to flex they’re muscles and climb over it.

But what if they sit down, lean their forhead against the wall, and cry?

What if they start and re start climbing the wall and they can’t seem to make any progress?

What if they refuse to even consider climbing the wall and they do cheat and run around or they just quit the whole race?

It breaks my heart to see children, of any age show such disinterest in climbing learning walls.  Such indifference at trying something new.  Either because they
A.   Don’t think they’d be interested in it.
B.  Don’t think they’d be good at it.
C.  It would require to much work.

How to fix this? Darn it!  How?

When you condition their heart to set aside feelings of indifference, feelings of insecurity, feelings of frustration, you are condtioning that heart to LEARN.  You are turning flimsy feelings into flexing muscles of learning.  When you are teaching your child to not take it personally when anybody is asking them to do something that they aren’t good at yet, you are creating a moldable, teachable heart.  When they think they already know everything, yet you stop them and teach them to accept correction from someone else, you are giving them a humble, kind spirit that humankind is going to be graced with wherever they go. 

Getting over that wall matters.  It’s a big deal.

You need to use your own judgement on how high to make the wall, in what style of coaching they would best learn, in when to rest for a minute and then try again, and in what the appropriate reward would be after they get over the wall.  My kids are different from your kids and my parenting style is different from your style.  But get over that wall!  It matters.  One of my kids responds best to standing there with a stop watch and me yelling “Ready, set, go!” while my other kid responds best if I google the scientific proof that learning this would be advantagious for him.  My girl just wants my company so I just stand on the other side and yell, “Hurry up, so we can go watch a musical.”  But they all need to get over the wall.  It matters.

When he’s 12 months old, you are teaching him to pick up toys and put them in his little toy box.  That’s just a little wall but it matters.  When he’s 5 and you’re teaching him his letters, don’t let his feelings rule the process.  Help him over the wall.  When she’s 7 and can’t stand doing dishes, tell her she’s going to be doing dishes for the rest of her life so get it done lickity-split.  It matters! 

It’s sooooooooooooo hard though.  Half of the time I’m totally into coaching my child over the wall but when they sit down and cry, I often want to sit down and cry right next to them and then go eat ice cream.  But I don’t want my child to be that closed off, unteachable child when he is grown.  I have to make the effort NOW to mold his heart to be teachable.  

In walks the power of prayer.  In walks the days and hours and weeks of coaching our kids over learning walls.  It’s all about winning their hearts for the Lord and away from themselves.  That’s really what you should tell people who ask you what you do for a living. 

Oh you know…just sitting around…WINNING MY CHILD’S HEART FOR THE LORD and coaching them over LEARNING WALLS.  GOSH.
Go for it.  Make them climb that wall and watch them run with it.

This matters so much.  Soft hearts and willing minds can do great things for the Lord.  Get out their and teach some hearts to be teachable.