Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guest Post: How A Young Child Thinks by Sandy Hall

What is your earliest memory? Do you remember asking questions that you were really curious about and having all the adults laugh? I do. When I was about 6, I was riding in the front seat of a ‘57 Hudson (aqua blue ) with my Grandpa and Grandma Cease. On PA Route 14 just north of Troy was the home of a family that sold tombstones; many different styles were displayed in the front yard. “Grandpa, why would they bury so many people in their front yard?” I asked, genuinely curious and astonished at the thought. Of course, Grandpa just chuckled, and Grandma made the explanation to me.

Children just do not think as adults do. How can they? Their frame of reference is still developing, their experiences are fewer, and their reasoning abilities are based more on concrete information than on abstract concepts.
Young children are naturally curious. They ask a hundred questions a day! “Why can’t I see God?” “Why did God let His Son die?” “What is heaven like?” That’s why taking time for questions your children ask is a good idea. And then answering their questions as honestly and biblically as you can is so important.

Children tend to live “in the present.” They don’t understand all the concepts of time yet, so 1,000 years ago means very little to them. Just keeping straight what happened last week or last summer is enough. Because they are more present-focused, try to make applications that apply to their lives today. It doesn’t hurt to set their sights on what kind of daddy God wants them to be some day, but the character needed to be that way 20 years from now begins in the habits they develop today.

Distinguishing between fact and fiction is difficult for children under 8 years old. In their minds, the current cartoon superhero is just as real as Goliath. They love to hear stories and will remember many details, but be sure to help them discern that Bible stories are true. These Bible characters really lived, and these events really occurred. Be careful about showing videos of Bible stories that add extra details to the story which are just the producer’s imagination. Children will accept as fact whatever you show them or tell them. That’s an awesome responsibility!
Try to put yourself in your young children’s minds. Don’t assume they’ll understand what you’re talking about. Maybe they’ve never seen a sling like David used so find a picture of one or help them make one. Show them a picture of the tomb Jesus was buried in and explain how that is different from the way we bury the dead in our day and place. Let them eat some pita so they can better picture the bread in the little boy’s lunch. Their minds are like sponges; fill them up with accurate information that satisfies their curiosity and gives them a love for truth.

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