If there was one thing you could do differently that would drastically improve your interactions with children would you want to know? Would you like to know the key that would increase cooperation, reduce tantrums, fighting and negative behavior? Not only that, but applying this principle will improve the effectiveness of your teaching, whether you are homeschooling, leading a Sunday School class, Kids Club, After School Program, from preschool to high school and beyond.
Well…. Here it is…. Connect First.
You can’t expect a ton of cooperation from your children if you haven’t taken the time to connect with them first. Pam Leo tells us that the level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents.
This rings true to me because it directly correlates to my relationship with God. When I’ve taken the time to truly connect with Him and feel such a closeness and love from Him, obedience or cooperation with His plan for my life is a joy and a privilege. There’s nothing I’d rather do, because I feel close with Him.
It correlates to our work life, friendships and family life too. We are happy to work for, do things for and go out of our way for people that we know actually care about us. A person who has taken the time to let me know that I am important to him, who I know has my best interest at heart, that kind of person I will do anything for. Don’t you agree?
And so it applies to children as well. When our children know they are unconditionally loved and accepted – not for what they do, but for who they are, they are much more likely to comply with our requests. When we’ve taken the time to fill their little love tanks with lots of love and attention, then all of a sudden the power struggles melt away.
And it applies to groups of children as well – if we are teaching or even just working with children that aren’t our own. Take the time to make eye contact, greet them, welcome them, do SOMETHING that brings a connection and that will help you when the time comes when you need to ask them to follow directions that you give.
Before you can direct, teach, help, care for, discipline or provide anything for a child (or anyone for that matter) first you must connect.
Sometimes it means being creative and asking the Holy Spirit how to connect with a particular child. It is presumptuous to walk into a group of kids and expect to be able to impact their lives or help them in any way without making an effort to connect with them.
To me, this is the secret ingredient that has the potential to transform our interactions with children more than anything else we can do.
So – weigh in. Do you agree, disagree? What challenges do you find in trying to connect with your kids?