"Precious Moments" Children
I think we’re all familiar with Precious Moments and their line of all sorts of things from coloring books to ceramic figurines that are characterized by sweet angelic children. Many of them have a faith quality to them of children bowing their heads sweetly in prayer or carefully holding their Bibles.
This school year I was blessed with the opportunity to teach Bible Time for the SPARKS aged Awana kids. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Awana program, it is a Bible-based program for kids, Kindergarten through 6th grade. Our Awana program is made up of many kiddos from our community that otherwise would not hear about God or come to church. SPARKS is the name for their age group and these kiddos are 5 to 8 or 9-year-olds. Basically, kindergarten, first and second graders. At the end of March, I was able to give each of these children their very own Bible! They had been eagerly awaiting getting their own Bibles for months. Over the Awana year it was amazing and encouraging to my own faith to see their desire to read from the Bible and their desire to have their own Bible.
But I had to significantly change my expectations of their reception to the Bible’s and how they treated their Bibles.
The evening I gave the Bibles out, the children were so very excited to have their Bibles but through the night I noticed some children demonstrating behavior that could have been seen as very negative or “inappropriate” in the way handled their bibles. First of all, these are young kiddos, but I knew that many don’t have positive examples at home and have not been taught how to treat special books, let alone a Bible.
Some kids found that the slip cover over their Bibles made them extra slick and thus made great “slides” as they pushed them along the floor as fast as they could. After being cooped up for weeks this passed winter in the house and not having outside recess at school kiddos, mine included, became creative in finding ways to expend energy as their bodies just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Bibles were dropped, not from lack of care, but just from young children, with small hands holding them and turning pages with child-like developmental coordination.
As we went through the process of putting their names on the front page and the date that they received the Bible, there were letters scribbled out, added drawings, and legibility was limited.
Yet, the pride and excitement over the ownership of these Bibles was overwhelmingly obvious.
There were no “Precious Moments” moments during that evening.
There were kids sweaty from playing in the gym and wiggly bottoms and all that is “children” demonstrated in the group that night. There were holey jeans and dirty stinky socks and unkind words and not followed instructions.
Yet, in the midst of it all, there was kindness, there was anticipation, there was persistence in their request to read for themselves out of their own new Bible, there was thought-provoking conversation at their age level and their own brand of care and consideration for this new to them, life-changing book, that they could call their own.
Many adults want to compare today’s kids and their supposed lack of boundaries, difficulty focusing, struggles with social interaction and all sorts of negative things that seem to top the list when today’s kids are described, with children from the past, with this supposed ideal of what kids should look like, or behave like, etc.
In reality, kids don’t fit into our “box” of expectations. Whether it’s because of a disability, or struggles they face in their family home, poor parenting, or whatever you want to list here, most often kids will not fit into the box that we would like them too.
I know about this myself, from personal experience. First, because of my profession as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist who has worked with hundreds of kids since I began my career, as well as having my own kids with their unique set of needs and struggles.
Most adults won’t acknowledge that we are the ones who have to do the most adapting and changing.
It’s easier to say “My children need to learn to obey, the way I want them to!” instead of thinking outside of the box and seeing behavior as communication, teaching them the way that they learn best, and problem-solving supports and implementing them. This type of parenting or working with kiddos shouldn’t be used only with kids with disabilities or differences in the way they learn.
My oldest is a visual learner and her ability to memorize things is a strength. But she also struggles to regulate her actions, sensory needs, emotions and memory in a way that allows her to perform at her best. Part of that is being 7 years old and also how her brain is wired.
So I thought I would share some of the “out-of-the-box thinking and supports that I’ve put in place for our girls.
Maybe these ideas will be helpful to you with your kids, your classroom, your Sunday school class or whenever you interact with kids.
Visual Support for Toileting
The toilet has been an area of contention for us. Not just the typical “he won’t put the seat down”, but our girls frequently “forget” to wipe, or flush or wash their hands. So I decided, instead of nagging about this, I created this very simple little visual reminder of the things that they need to do when they get off the potty.
Find that visual support here!
Voice Volume Visual
Another struggle we have is regulating the volume of our voices. We tend to be a loud and rambunctious family anyways, but there are times that my oldest especially struggles to use an appropriate voice level, even though we’ve been working on that for years. So I created a little Voice Volume Visual chart that I can direct her attention to, when I’m asking her to become a little bit more quiet. She understands the volume on the TV, radio or the computer and so I fashioned it after that. 10 is way too loud, outside voice. Five is just right. Zero is of course silence.
Find that visual support here!
List of 10 ways to help your child calm
These can be used whether your kiddos have been housebound because of the weather or whether your kiddos just have difficulty calming back down after rambunctious play. This is a list of 10 activities that you can do to help your child calm. Each idea has a short description and information to help you implement it.
Before I wrap up this post, I want to make sure that you have not misunderstood me!
I am not suggesting that you do not set boundaries, expectations and rules for your children. That is very important. What I’m suggesting is that you work to balance those boundaries, expectations and rules with supports and present them in ways that your kids will be able to perform at their best.
We want to set our kids up for success, which is a lifelong parenting challenge!
So, there may not be any Precious Moments type kiddos at your house. There sure aren’t at mine, but with our guidance and support, our kiddos’ own unique versions of precious moments will be apparent!
As always, I love to hear your comments, thoughts and questions!
Love to you and yours!