You see the blank expressions from the 7 year olds, the 4th grade boys snickering. you stand there scared to death. How do I make them listen?
And it's simple really, you must listen to them. So many times we've succumbed to the belief that children should be made to pay attention to us. But Children are like adults- if there's no relationship, they aren't going to pay attention. They need to believe that you are FOR them. So many times we talk down to children, belittle their triumphs and failures. We must appreciate the value that they see in situations. A hurt finger is very much a crisis. Your bandaid is not merely to make them stop crying, it is to show them that you are a source of COMFORT. You are safe. Likewise, when they want to tell you a story about their cat, you need to hear the story. They will not care for you if from the outset you have not taken them seriously. Children do not like to be made to feel that they are inadequate because you are capable of things they are not. So many time we think we can talk over their heads when they're in the room, or pat their face and say 'isn't she just the smartest little thing?"
there is danger in not seeing the hopes and a dreams of a child as being of the utmost importance.
It is from that platform that i would present the gospel to Children. Not with rote facts for them to memorize and understand when they're older- but with language and understanding that says "you are greatly loved by your creator, and you are capable of receiving that."
Last night a group of my friends were eating ice cream at a little place downtown and beside us was a little girl there with her family. Very seriously she practiced her Karate steps a few feet away from us, making that we were paying attention. to laugh at her punches in the air would have been terribly detrimental. One of the guys got up and asked if he could do the punches too, and if she could beat him at karate. She loved it. But she felt as if we took her very seriously.
It's not that children aren't adorable- they are. but they will not listen to us unless they feel that we take their karate practice, ballet lessons, and the butterfly they found outside as very serious things indeed.
I get the feeling had Jesus seen her practicing her Karate, he would have watched and encouraged her with great enthusiasm. Just as he encourages all of us with our little triumphs and failures every day, whether we are 8 or 80.