Monday, January 16, 2017

Baby Eyebrows and the Image of Grace

This clip, besides being giggle worthy, is an example of image self-awareness. Before about age 15-18 months babies looking in a mirror are unaware that the baby they see is themselves. Scientists check for this by putting a spot of red make-up on a baby’s forehead. If the baby points she does not know who she is looking at. If she touches the red spot on her own face she has made this connection. When this young man giggles at his own eyebrows we can be assured he knows who is the baby he sees in the mirror. It marks the beginning of his self-image.

At this age toddlers are aware that other people can have an image of them. This kind of awareness can be a blessing or a problem. This awareness is part of what shapes a child’s personality and identity. Who am I? How good am I? What do other people think of me? This can open up a whole new can of worms.

Perhaps a certain amount of ignorance IS bliss.

Think for a minute about what the world wants to teach your children about their image. They need to be strong, beautiful, thin, ripped, smart, cool, athletic, talented, adorable, and sexy. The messages of who they should be and how they should act come fast and furious. They can never measure up.

More importantly, we don’t want them to measure up to those false standards.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him. Genesis 1:27

It is never too early to teach your children about God’s love for them. They are not made in the image of media or social expectations. They do not compete with pictures and clips seen on Instagram or Facebook.  They will never be a perfect Pinterest baby. They are made in God’s image and this knowledge is both powerful and comforting. 

It is powerful because they belong to God – from even before their birth. He is their creator and He loves and protects them – no matter what happens.

It is comforting because God already has a plan for how we do not measure up. He already sent His Son to die for us and wipe away our sins. Through Christ we stand perfect before God.

Let your child know he or she belongs to God, was made by God, is treasured by God and is redeemed through the work of God’s Son.This is a lesson that can never be started too early, or taught too often.

It is self-image in the mirror of grace.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Teaching Santa

Do you have a child on the brink of outgrowing Santa? 

I love the way this mother handles the situation. Instead of simply confessing to the myth she brings the child into the story and in the process teaches an important lesson in empathy.

She takes the child out for “coffee” and tells her she is grown up enough to become a Santa. Then she explains that being a Santa means paying attention to what other people need and finding a way to provide that need. This, of course, is all done in secret. Then, the mother helps the child to meet someone’s secret need. 

This keeps the secret of Santa going for younger children (as well as friends and classmates.) It also gives the child a different perspective on the gift getting part of Christmas that so easily reinforces selfishness and greed. Now, the child is taught that giving is about others and not about how many presents are under the tree.

I love the way this pivots one family tradition into a lifelong lesson. It is a beautiful way to motivate your child to do good things for others because of good experienced in the past – not simply to be rewarded.

In this process we can teach our children that the good things we do can only come from God. We cannot do good deeds without the work of the Spirit and we find the desire to do good because of the sacrificial love of the Father and Son.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. I Peter 3:8-9

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Anything for a Treat

What this clip and see if you can stop yourself from giggling. 

What makes this baby imitate a dog? It is certainly not because doggy treats smell good.

Infants are continually watching our actions and committing them to memory. This is an amazing thing given the fact their brains are still learning how to create and retrieve long term memories. Infants are even born able to imitate as research on babies less than two days old shows infants imitating facial expressions. 

Research has shown us that infants have four basic ways of learning. They mature and develop skills such as large motor skills. They learn from trial and error. They learn from exploration, and they learn from imitation.

Yup! The same infant who has difficulty getting his fist reliably into his mouth is learning by watching you. They learn these lessons and can repeat these actions even in different settings. The interesting thing found in research is that even when adults make mistakes in demonstrating something, the infants will often imitate the action without the mistake. In fact, one study showed that infants remembered the action better if there was a mistake. Perhaps it required more thinking to watch, interpret, correct and execute what was seen. (Meltzoff, 1999)

This is good news for parents. It means that we do have a strong influence on our children – an even stronger influence than the family dog!

It means that children are learning from us, even when we do not see evidence of that learning.  What children learn in a loving family is what is buried deep in the neural connections of the brain.

Use this learning/teaching gift God has given you. What can you model for your children today?

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. I Corinthians 11:1, ESV


Friday, November 11, 2016

Growing your mind

Getting information about school out of your child is a pretty typical parenting challenge. “What did you do in school today?” is often met with a shoulder shrug or a report about a recess game. 
Encouraging children to talk about school is a good thing.  Such discussions encourage meta-cognition, which is a way to evaluate learning. Carol Dweck is a Psychology researcher and she has found that particular questions encourage children to think about effort and personal improvement rather than worrying about comparison. 

Children who think about stretching themselves develop thinking skills that help them to overcome obstacles and solve-problems. Growth mindset thinking not only builds a healthy self-efficacy, but it also reduces anxiety since in focuses on the hope found in learning and improving.

Try some of these questions on your next car ride home:

  • What did you do today that made you think hard? 
  • What mistake did you make that taught you something? 
  • How did you think about your work and improve it today? 
  • What problem did you work on today?

 These questions also work for faith thinking:

  • What happened today that made you think about Jesus?  
  • Did you apologize or forgive someone today?  
  • Did you find someone who needed your kindness today? 
  • What mistake did God help you learn from today?