The two most common lenses through which children are seen are “adorable” and “nuisance.” The adorable lens is typically tinted a rose color and the nuisance lens has a tint of disdain.
The adorable lens gives only one perspective – these young ones are precious and created for our delight. Their wrongs are not truly wrongs, but merely children being silly and behaving as children do. Aren’t they just precious? They will grow out of the shenanigans. There’s no real need for correction.
The nuisance lens creates a narrow, negative vision of children. Simply put – children are bad. They are sneaky and always looking for a way to disobey or play a prank. Certainly these creatures should be seen and not heard.
After taking a moment to think of how you really view children, it may be necessary to wipe clean your lenses. In fact, try on a whole new set of glasses.
Allow yourself to begin to view children through a God lens. Your understanding and view of children is going to directly affect how you relate to them.
On one lens of your new glasses there is “Image Reflector.” This little person, a child, was created in the image of God. Therefore, he has some of his Creators attributes. Every child possesses them. In some children these attributes are easily recognizable. The child that extends mercy to others, is gracious in her sharing, or has that “natural” sense of morals, wanting to do the right thing. These attributes that they possess reflect their Creator. In some children, we must look a little harder to see how he reflects God. At first glance the child we think of as the constant prankster may actually be reflecting our Heavenly Father’s sense of humor. Trust me, He has one! The child who seems to always be in a different world and constantly doodling possesses the creativity and imagination in whose image she was created. Look for it. It is there.
Are you beginning to see your children differently, understanding them a bit better?
On the other lens there is “Fallen Creation.” Usually, we see this in our children right away! Children, like adults without the Holy Spirit, lack self-control, are most often selfish in their thoughts and wants, and are more easily drawn to the pull of sin. They need to be spoken to with truth. Consequences should follow wrongdoing.
However, if we do not view children through each lens equally we are not viewing them as God does, and we lack an ability to truly understand them. With our lenses properly adjusted, we can now begin to better relate to our children. God has you in that classroom and He is using you to make a difference.
Here are three practical ways of relating to the children you teach in the classroom or at home:
Meet children where they are: naturally desiring for knowledge. Feed them God’s truths just as you would feed them food. Point out the majesty of our Creator through His creation. A child’s curiosity can lead into abundant truths. Their natural desire for knowledge needs to be feed. Vary what you serve and the manner in which it is cooked.
Make eye contact and ask him questions. Get to truly know him. Learn his likes, dislikes, and interests so that you can engage him. This genuine interest in your students generates a deep respect and trust from them. Asking a question and looking away while a student is answering is no good. Stay focused on the one you have in front of you for that brief moment.
Model Christ. Children are great at playing “Follow the Leader.” Ensure that you are modeling for them in a way that most glorifies God. Season your speech with Jesus, note your reactions to them, and depend on the Holy Spirit to come alongside you to encourage the children you teach. Students will come to respect who you are above what you say and teach.