When adults praise a kid’s…efforts, kids broaden competence.
-Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
-Paul (Philippians 1:9)
Elementary aged children want to master skills. They can be easily crushed with too much harsh criticism, but conversely thrive when their abilities are noticed and encouraged. Help them improve their friendships, knowledge of truth, understandings and ability to love.
You can see it in their eyes. It’s a crucial moment. The time when they’ve been reckless and broken something or used a harsh word or made a mistake causing inconvenience in your world. They’re looking at you and anticipating your response. Send a harsh scolding or berating comment and their gaze will wilt. This reflects their downcast heart.
OR in that moment you can identify with them in their guilt acknowledging your own weakness and struggles with sin. You can show them their error with loving compassion and work with them to plan a better response or choice in the future. Then their eyes will tell it all. They will show understanding of their wrongdoing and then they will reflect the hope that you offer for a better future.
Even better for the long-run is building the habit and rhythm of noticing what’s right, noticing what’s good, celebrating wise choices or praising skillful attempts.
Instead of noticing weakness, notice what’s wonderful!
Notice and celebrate when a child…
- uses a kind word
- contributes a positive response in discussion
- demonstrates creativity
- shows persistence and doesn’t give up
- adds value to the group activity
- remains focused when others are distracted
Be on the lookout for little glimpses of growth and make it your mission to add value to the children in your world.
Lord, empower me to equip children in love.