Some children just get on my nerves and yes, it is me and not them. The children that bother me most are exactly like I was at that age. I have considered asking a previous teacher, “Why were you so nice to me?” I am not talking about children who are rebellious, defiant or anything having to do with sin nature. (If that is your struggle check out Podcast: Tips On Discipline with Kids.) I am talking about how each of us is born with our own quirky personality. When we attempt to change someone’s temperament, we are going against God’s design. Trying to make any child go against her nature is like trying to make a fish fly, frustrating everyone. Satan tries to get us to focus on that characteristic distracting us from the goal of loving the person as Jesus loves them.
Everyone has varying degrees of multiple temperament traits from the moment of birth. For example: attention span, some children are butterflies who float around the room person to person. They start a project only to find something else far more interesting. Other children are pit bulls; they are determined that you will answer explain fornication no matter how many ways you try to change the subject. (You can read about eight of temperament traits in Parenting with the End in Mind.)
So what do I do when I encounter myself forty-five years younger?
- I admit that I have the problem and I pray that God will help me change my attitude so that I am not biased.
- I remind myself that my purpose is communicate God’s love and educate each child about God. It is not to try to change anyone’s personality.
- I remember that God made oak trees, apple trees, and dogwoods. Gently I guide this child to be the “tree” that God made him or her to be.
- I call out the strengths of this temperament. The distracted child maybe more aware of the mood of the classroom and more concerned about others than his or herself. The focused child may persevere when peer pressure tries to get him or her to abandon their convictions.
- I model self-acceptance and grace; because I know that children learn from example. Years from now, they will remember how they were treated better than they will recall the subject of today’s Bible passage.
I love the way Matt Chandler put it in his sermon on May 1, 2016: “One of the keys to parenting (and I believe one of the calls on your life) is to love the kid you have, not the one you want…This is a terrible thing to see in this area, where what we wanted was an athlete, and what we got was a reader. Or what we wanted was a reader, and what we got was an athlete. You love the kid you have, not the one you want.” (http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/detail/moments/) So teacher, accept the children you have. Each of them is specially designed by God for his glory and purpose.
After serving as children’s minister for twenty-four years, Jayna Coppedge wrote the parenting book she wanted to give to the families in her ministry. Parenting with the End in Mind is available on Amazon. Join her parenting Facebook discussion group www.facebook.com/groups/1583891675269970/ . Invite her to speak at your parenting or children’s teacher training event.