Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, and Patricia Kuhl
This breezy work of popular science sets out to describe the minds of very young children as revealed by “twenty-five years of research in philosophy, psychology, computer science, linguistics and neuroscience.” The results will gratify new parents: your baby is a genius, just as you thought.
Although their brains are much lighter, babies are born with as many neurons as adults. A three-year-old’s brain is twice as active as his mother’s. Babies can distinguish the sounds of all languages with equal clarity; Japanese babies clearly hear the difference between English “rake” and “lake” that mystifies their parents.
Parents beware—babies are learning more, and faster, than they will at any time in their lives. On their first day, they show particular interest in the faces that go with voices they remember hearing in the womb, and can already copy facial expressions. Even before they are two, babies are capable of empathy. When one of the authors burst into tears after a long day at the office, her baby son fetched Band-Aids from the bathroom and stuck them all over her.
And, like scientists, babies test out their theories. These authors believe toddlers in their “terrible twos” watch the reactions of aggrieved adults as if they were laboratory rats. “Babies are already as smart as they can be. They are designed to learn … most of all by playing with the people that love them.”
It’s not easy raising children in today’s world. Many of the godly values that you want to encourage in your children are constantly being attacked by others who are going the opposite direction. You worry that even your best efforts will fail and that your children will turn their backs on the values you hold dear. I know you’re sometimes tempted to give up, but don’t. Your concern and care are not in vain.
There’s only so much that you can do, even though you try your best. But I’m capable of doing much more than you ever could, and I am here to help. I also understand your children even better than you do, and I know how to best handle their problems. I want to work with you to shape your children into the godly people we both want them to become.
Commit your children to Me in prayer. Through prayer you can be the better parent you want to be. Through prayer you can help protect your children from harm and unwholesome influences. Through prayer you can find My solutions to their problems. Through your prayers I can do what you can’t do.
Set aside time each day to pray for your children. Each time you’re faced with a troublesome issue, ask Me for the answer. Start today to be a better parent through prayer. Changes that you haven’t thought possible will come to pass through the power of prayer.
Excerpt from the book "From Jesus with Love - For Troubled Times", © Aurora Productions. Photo copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
1. “Would you please take off this sweater?” Just because the air is a tad brisk outside doesn’t mean your baby needs to be dressed for dogsledding in Siberia. Parents tend to overdress infants, who get cranky when they’re hot and sweaty—just like adults do.
The fix: Dress your baby in the same number of layers as you’re wearing. If you’re not sure whether she’s too hot or too cold, put a warm hand on her tummy or back to gauge her body temperature. A baby’s feet, hands, or cheeks can often seem cool even when she’s comfortable. (The nape of the neck is also a good place to check if the baby is the right warmth. If it’s a bit sweaty, the baby is probably overdressed. It should be warm and dry. A sneeze doesn’t necessarily indicate that the baby is chilled.)
2. “Can’t we all just get along?” Babies don’t understand sentences such as, “I can’t believe you forgot to pay the Visa bill,” or “Why can’t you ever take out the trash without being reminded?” But they can sense when Mom and Dad are fighting—and they don’t like it. If there’s tension or raised voices, a baby can pick up on that and may become fussy.
The fix: Occasional arguments with your husband will happen (especially given the intense demands of caring for a baby). But try to express your feelings calmly so that you create a consistent, soothing environment.
3. “I’m totally stressed out!” Too much noise, movement, or bright light—at the mall, a crowded coffee shop, or a family party—can drive a baby to tears. And after a point, too much stimulation of any kind—even being left in a doorway jumper for 20 minutes or surrounded by too many toys—can overwhelm her.
The fix: Every child has a different breaking point, so pay close attention to how your baby handles commotion. Keep visits to busy stores short, eat at restaurants in the off-hours (when they’re quieter), and introduce new toys—even noise-free ones—in small doses. Also schedule some quiet time after an outing so your revved-up child can settle down. (Parties or gatherings can be a difficult environment for babies to deal with, particularly if they’re not able to go to sleep at their usual time. The noise and the activity can be overstimulating for them, or tire them out quicker than usual.)
4. “My tummy hurts!” There’s no shortage of reasons why your baby might have stomach discomfort. He could have a painful buildup of gas. He might be constipated. Formula-fed babies can develop milk sensitivity or a milk allergy, both of which can cause cramps along with mucous poop. Or your child could have reflux, in which food contents from the stomach splash back into the esophagus.
The fix: First try burping your baby more often and position him upright after meals. You can also reduce gas by massaging his tummy gently or pedaling his legs. If you’re nursing, try using one breast for the entire feed instead of switching. The milk that comes out first is higher in lactose than the “hind milk” that follows. For bottle-fed babies, switch to a low-flow nipple so your child swallows less air when he drinks. Don’t panic if your baby spits up on occasion, but ask your doctor about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) if the symptoms become chronic or your child seems in distress.
5. “Ouch, I’m being pinched!” Your baby could have a hair or a loose thread wrapped around her toe or finger, cutting off the circulation and causing pain and swelling. It’s more common than many parents realize. Other possibilities: Your baby’s skin is irritated by a label or a zipper, or the car-seat belt or stroller straps are chafing her.
The fix: Undress your baby, and inspect her toes and fingers. If you find a hair, try unwrapping it, or cutting it with little scissors. If you have a boy, keep in mind that a hair can even get wrapped around the penis. Also check zippers and adjust any too-tight straps.
6. “I’m feeling lonely over here.” Between 6 and 9 months, your baby will learn that he’s a separate being from you, which is good. But he may start to cry as soon as you leave the room because he misses you. Which is good—and bad.
The fix: If you notice a momentary separation is triggering a meltdown, stop what you’re doing and show him a little love. Sometimes just seeing you or being cuddled will stop the tears. A gentle massage or some light pats on the back will also help reassure him that when you go away, you’ll always come back.
7. “I’m starving!” Your baby just ate an hour ago, so you’re sure it’s not time for another meal. Or is it? If she’s going through a growth spurt, her tears might mean, “Waitress, I’d like another course.” These spurts typically occur at 2, 3, and 6 weeks, and at 3 and 6 months, and they last about two days. Still, babies don’t tend to check their calendar, so one might happen at any time.
The fix: Is your baby really hungry? The best test is to put her in the stroller or a sling and go for a walk. If she falls asleep or calms down quickly, she doesn’t need food. But if she screams her way around the block, offer her a breast or a bottle. Don’t worry—it’s really not possible to overfeed a breastfed baby.
8. “This wall I’m staring at is getting a little old.” Spending an hour in the same chair in the same corner of the same room is the baby equivalent of being confined to an office cubicle all day: not a lot of fun. Although some infants have a higher tolerance than others for staying in one place, all babies get bored and appreciate a change of scenery.
The fix: Encourage your child’s natural love of exploration by moving him to another room, taking him to the park, or running some errands together. Don’t have time to wander? Simply talking and interacting with him is a great antidote for boredom. Babies are very social. They love being around you, listening to you, and learning from you.
* The older we are, the more wisdom we acquire; but the younger we are, the easier it is to take in and store facts.
* The human brain is so constructed that during the first six years of life it takes in data at an astonishing rate. And not only is that so, but this data literally expands the brain. Thereafter, learning data becomes more difficult.
* Your child may learn information many times faster than you can, and may also remember the information longer.
* You can help your child retain the information for years to come by reviewing it and using it in new ways.
* There is hardly anything that you can’t teach your child.
Tried and proven memorization tips from parents and teachers
(These points can be applied to anything your child is memorizing and studying, not just Scripture memorization.)
How to start
* If memory work is new to you and your children, start by trying to memorize one verse every two or three days. Once you become accustomed to doing memory work, you will probably be able to memorize a verse a day.
* Try reading the memory verse for the day while your children are eating breakfast. Discuss it briefly to be sure they understand what it means and how it applies to their lives. Repeat it a few times. Review it before the children go to bed.
* Keep things moving at a fairly rapid pace. Children actually absorb things much better that way.
* It’s helpful to have a set time and place daily to work on memorization.
* Get your child’s full attention. Minimize distractions.
* Be relaxed.
* Make it fun.
* Keep it short and well within the child’s attention span. Stop before your child becomes bored.
* Try different inflections in your voice to emphasize the meaning and key words. Quoting or reading each verse with the same inflection and rhythm each time will help your child learn quicker.
* Say the reference of the new verse, then say the verse itself and give a simple explanation.
* On longer verses, go over the verse first in parts, and then put it all together.
* Encourage the child to first listen carefully to the verse, or part of the verse, and then repeat it. Quoting along from the very start often hinders children from getting the words exactly right, and once they say it wrong it becomes more difficult to say it right.
* Say it together a couple of times, and then have the child say it alone.
* Encourage your child to speak loudly and clearly, and to put expression into it! Show enthusiasm by your example.
* Be flexible. If one method isn’t working, change to another.
* Remember: Repetition is the law of memory!
Using music and drama
* Children learn by doing. They like to actively participate in the things they are learning.
* Putting verses to song is a fun and easy way to learn Scripture. This can be done by using simple tunes that the children are already familiar with, such as nursery rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush,” “Row Your Boat,” etc.
* It can be helpful to say the verse to a certain rhythm. For example, clap out the rhythm or march in a circle while quoting the verse.
* Act out the verse to help your child understand and recall it. Have your child mimic you. Young children may initially have difficulty speaking and acting simultaneously, but once they catch on, they love it.
* Incentives encourage the children to learn and review their verses.
* Rewards don’t have to be big—just a fun acknowledgment of the progress your child has made.
* To keep your child inspired and making progress, you’ll probably want to vary the incentive from time to time.
Excerpted from the book "Feed My Lambs: Guide for Parents and Teachers", © Aurora Productions.
By Curtis Peter Van Gorder
Mothers give so much. Their entire lives are a gift of love to their families. We journey far from our beginnings, and then something tugs at our heartstrings and draws us home to rediscover who we are and where we came from.
I sat down with my mother a few months before she passed away and asked her some questions about her life. If you haven’t ever done that, I suggest you do. It’s sure to help you appreciate your mother even more.
Mom told me much about her life and dreams, both fulfilled and unfulfilled.
“Do you have any regrets?” I asked her. “What would you major on if you could live your life again?”
She answered by showing me something she had written in her journal: If I could, I would find more country lanes to walk, bake more cookies, plant more spring bulbs, swim at dusk, walk in the rain, dance under the stars, walk the Great Wall, wade along sandy shores, pick up sea shells and glass, glide through fjords in northern lands, sing country ballads, read more books, erase dismal thoughts, dream up a fantasy.
“Is there any message that you would like to pass on to your children and grandchildren?” was my next question.
Again she flipped through her journal and found the answer already written there: Stop waiting to live until your car is paid off, until you get a new home, until your kids are grown, until you can go back to school, until you finish this or that, until you lose ten pounds.
Flipping a few more pages she came to this entry: Pray for what you wish. God loves to answer because answered prayer deepens faith and adds glory to His name.
And again: Savor the moment. Savor your walking and talking with friends, the smiles of little children. Savor the dazzling light of morning that holds the multicolored way. Savor God’s great earth, rolling hills, the birds, the blooms, the diamond dewdrops glittering on a crab apple tree—all His wonders from His hand.
Excerpted from Activated magazine. Used with permission.
Before you have children, it’s common for many to have high ideals of what kind of parent you want to be, how you want to raise your children, and what goals you want to shoot for. It isn’t long, though, before these expectations are popped by reality. You realize pretty quickly that you can’t be everything for your child, that it’s impossible to be perfect and live up to all the expectations you’d laid out for yourself, that it’s unrealistic to think you’re never going to fail.
Forget about perfection. You’re never going to attain it. “Perfect” doesn’t factor into parenthood. So instead of striving to be a perfect parent, which you’ll never be, enjoy being a parent who’s loving, fun, happy, humble, concerned, prayerful, and human.
You can love your children to pieces, even if your room is untidy. You can have fun, even if you have baskets of laundry to put away. You can be happy, even if your child is having behavioral problems. You can be humble enough to ask for the help of others, and humble enough to admit that you can’t do everything.
Kids love parents who are natural. No child wants a parent who is stuffy, rigid, and a perfectionist. Children enjoy being with those who are fun, and who do interesting stuff with them—and, of course, with those who love them. So be that type of parent.
Make your child’s life full of interest, variety, and fun. Everything you will ever teach your child will be better and more easily learned when you have forsaken unrealistic expectations—both for yourself and for your child.
Teach your children the thrill of learning. Allow them the rush of exploration. Make room for them to experiment, even if it means that they will sometimes fail. That’s part of growing up. Your job as a parent is to be a guide, mentor, and counselor, and also to lead and help guide and direct them within the choices that they make.
Enjoy being a parent. Enjoy your children. Laugh when they laugh. Sing when they sing. Feel their hurts and sorrows with them. Your children will learn to love life if you show them how to. They will learn motivation rather than perfection, if that’s the quality you manifest. This is not something that can be learned in a textbook. If they see it in you, they will want what you have.
§ Successful parents strive to be the person they want their children to become. There are no formulas for parents. You can’t “program” children like a computer and be guaranteed of the result. But children are great observers and imitators. They watch, listen, and absorb values and habits from the people who have the greatest influence on them—their parents. So successful parents resolve that they will set the best example they can for their children.
§ Successful parents enjoy being parents. They enjoy parenting not because it’s easy or instantly rewarding, but because of the sheer joy and privilege of cooperating with God in shaping another unique and precious life. Any parent of grown children will tell you “they grow up so quickly.” Successful parents remind themselves of that and try to savor every day with their children. They immerse themselves in their children as much as possible and just enjoy them—even the days of dirty diapers, illness, and disappointments. They don’t just love their children, they like them and look forward to spending time with them.
§ Successful parents don’t expect perfection, either from themselves or their children. Parenting is an art, not a science. Successful parents understand that, like themselves, their children aren’t perfect either. This frees them to love their children unreservedly.
§ Successful parents don’t fear occasional failures. They understand that mistakes are a normal, even healthy, part of parenting. They make the best decisions they can, and when they’re wrong, they learn from their mistakes and try to do better the next time.
§ Successful parents don’t expect to have smooth sailing. Children have their own opinions, personalities, and preferences. Inevitably, they cause us to say, “Where did that come from?” or “What were you thinking?” Our responsibility to provide them with limits and guidance will sometimes clash with their growing desire for independence. Successful parents aren’t surprised by difficulties and conflicts; they expect them. But successful parents understand that their responsibility to their children is not to always please them or make them happy—it’s to make the hard decisions that will be for their best in the long run.
§ Successful parents don’t go it alone. No one has the experience or answers to every parenting challenge. Successful parents aren’t reluctant to seek out the wisdom of others. They know that, at the end of the day, the decision is theirs, but before they get there, there is plenty of wisdom along the way waiting to help them.
§ Successful parents try harder. They face the same pressures we all do—demanding jobs, spouses, and children who need them. But they live by this rule: “You get back what you put in.” They have a clear sense of priority for their family and are willing to put in the time to achieve it. They give more than the “average parent” so their children will be more than just “average children.” These parents work at nurturing and developing themselves to be the best parents they can be.
(Richard Patterson, Jr. Confident Parenting in Challenging Times. Tekna Books. 1999)
Photo copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
New parents take one long, deep look into the eyes of their baby and vow to never hurt or disappoint the child. Why then do parents nag, belittle, and get impatient?
Familiarity often breeds contempt. As time passes, we become familiar with the people we are closest to, and we stop valuing and treating them like we should. The wear and tear of daily living takes its toll, and the bright newness of once-treasured relationships begins to fade. Up close and personal, everyone’s flaws and wrinkles begin to show. Routines become ruts. Our once-prized blessings begin to weigh on us.
Sound familiar? Then it’s time to reverse the trend. That will take a conscious effort and may not be easy, especially if the problem has been going on for some time, but it can be done. Count your blessings. The quickest and surest way to return the shine to any tarnished relationship is to polish your half. Get busy being the person you set out to be at the start, and the other party will almost certainly follow suit without direct prompting.
Motivators, therapists, and child psychologists have discovered that praise makes us stretch ourselves. In the warm glow of knowing we have pleased another, we try harder to please. Hearing that we have done well, we want to do better. —Shannon Shayler
Praise is to children what water is to flowers. Pour it on and watch them grow. —Shannon Shayler
Everyone has good qualities. Find specific things about your children that you can sincerely compliment them on, and be generous with your praise. If you can’t find anything right off, look deeper. The harder it is to find that special “gold,” the greater the reward is likely to be for both of you when you do. If you can find even a threadlike vein and shine a little love on it in the form of praise, it will lead you straight to the mother lode. They’ll open up to you, and you’ll discover lots of wonderful things about them. —Shannon Shayler
The applause of a single human being is of great consequence. —Samuel Johnson
To love others just as they are is the ultimate compliment. —Shannon Shayler
The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. —Victor Hugo
Extracted from the book "Love's Many Faces", © Aurora Productions.
By Victoria Olivetta
After four years and a 44-hour bus ride, I was finally visiting my daughter and son-in-law and seeing my young granddaughter, Giovanna, for the first time. She had my heart instantly—so cute, so smart, so active. Other grandparents will understand if I say that my granddaughter is the most adorable, wonderful girl in the world!
I spent as much time as I could with her, trying to get to know and understand her. It was amazing to see how much Giovanna looked and acted like her mother had at the same age, but at the same time she very definitely had her own unique personality and ways.
I put great emphasis on my children’s education and started early, and my daughter and son-in-law have enthusiastically started doing the same with Giovanna. At 20 months Giovanna can already read a few words, counts to 20, knows the basic colors, is starting to learn geometric shapes, and has memorized a number of simplified Bible verses. She is very bright, but still exudes the innocence of a toddler.
One day she was running around, playing, and being a little rowdy. In a flash she went from doing her famous “A-frame” exercise on the bed (head and feet firmly planted on the mattress, bottom up, arms crossing the A) to landing on the floor with a thud. She looked surprised, but thankfully wasn’t seriously hurt. She sat there for a moment with an expression that was a mix of shock, disbelief, and embarrassment.
After she recovered and stood up, I offered to pray for her because I was sure that such an unexpected fall must have been at least a little painful. As soon as I finished the prayer, Giovanna opened her big brown eyes, and there it was—that unmistakable sparkle of playfulness. She unfolded her hands and was ready to get back to the important affairs of her young life: more jumping and playing.
A few days later her father needed to travel to another city and be gone for a couple of days, and she missed him. He has made a habit of spending one-on-one time with her at the same time each day, whenever possible, and that was when she missed him most while he was away. One day my daughter told Giovanna that instead of being upset, she should pray for her daddy, and they prayed together. Immediately her expression changed from one of worry and loss to one of peace and trust; she was her happy, playful self again.
Her simple faith made me reevaluate my own. It’s one thing to pray and trust that God will answer (that’s why we pray in the first place, because we expect some kind of answer), but it’s often something else to pray and immediately stop worrying about the situation because we truly believe the answer is already on the way. Giovanna really believed, so she could happily get on with life.
By D.B. Berg
It pays to be as a little child. In fact, Jesus said, “Unless you … become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3) and, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). We’re to be like little children—loving, sweet, simple believers, in childlike faith believing and receiving all that God has for us.
Children are samples of the citizenry of Heaven, like little angels dropped from the sky. They’re so fresh from Heaven that they understand prayer and other spiritual matters better than most adults. They talk to God and He talks to them. It’s that simple.
The problem with many grown-ups is that they know too much. They’ve been educated out of their childlike faith. But there are others of trusting childlike faith who are daily doing things that doubting intellectuals say can’t be done. So be like a little child, and anything wonderful can happen!
Excerpted from Activated Magazine. Used with permission. Photo © 123rf.com