Sitting at a gymnastic school waiting for my two children (ages 8 and 6 at the time) to finish their class, I met a mom who shared with me all the accomplishments her child of four was making. Many of the moms were engaged as this mom told us of the apparent genius her son was as he was already doing Algebra! Wow! She went on to share how every night her husband spent his evenings teaching this young one how to solve algebraic equations. I was impressed! After all my four-year old was counting to 20 at best using blocks, rocks and cookies! I felt far behind the ball of success…then I began to wonder, “Is this genius child enjoying his childhood or is he being pushed too soon into adulthood?” I don’t know the answer for this specific child as I only had the one conversation with the mom, but it did spur some pondering on my part.
Every age that our children are at is the age they should be allowed to enjoy. I have noticed in my years of parenting that parents (including myself) want so much for their children that often they make the mistake in giving them more than they are ready for. Even Jesus said about his disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can bear…” (John 16:12). While Jesus is speaking to truth being revealed to his followers, He was also very sensitive to what His followers could bear at this point and time in their life.
The thought occurred to me as I listened to this mom, “Teaching Algebra at such a young age could very well mean that there are many mathematical steps being skipped along the way; steps that are essential to the success of child’s understanding of mathematics.” Likewise, every age is a stepping stone to learning how to live life with maturity, success and confidence. When we rush our children through their childhood, we don’t mature them or make them smarter, we push them over the edge. We stress them and create expectations that are not obtainable. We run the risk of raising children into anxious adults.
Babies should enjoy the sweet time of cuddles, love and tender care. Toddlers should be allowed to explore, taste, see, smell and wonder at God’s great creation. Preschool children should excitedly learn to play, take nature walks and grow in skills of attention. Young elementary children should gain confidence as they strengthen their cognitive skills. Older elementary children eagerly begin the rigorous schedule of school’s demands and a world of possibilities. Teens start to make plans and mature into life’s expectations. All ages, with love, play, discovery and suitable time schedules, produce lives that view the world with a jovial perspective. Children that are allowed to grow naturally within their own boundaries are often children who exhibit confidence and success in all they do.
In our attempt to give our children everything before their time, we end up giving them stress instead. If we are not careful, we could be robbing them of their childhood. And a person robbed of childhood acts on it in adulthood – this produces a disastrous result! It’s so important to let your children be kids. Let them grow at their own pace. Introduce to them what is appropriate to their age.
What are three actions you can do that keep you from pushing your children over the edge?
- Be patient. Don’t rush their growth. Each child has their own God-ordained time schedule.
- Enjoy them. Play with them; learn with them. For a time is coming where their tender young age will be over.
- Eagerly look forward to new adventures with your children. Each age is special and each age brings new experiences where you both bond closer. Don’t miss these moments! Don’t jump too soon into them! Look forward to each one!
Life is a journey; don’t skip the journey just to get to the destination. As we all know so well, the demands of adulthood come too soon; it’s nice to look back at the carefree, untroubled childhood we once had and smile at our memories. Let your children make these same memories; it makes being an adult all the sweeter.
Image courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net