I have a discovery to share with you. Something so mind blowing, you might just jump out of the chair you are currently sitting in and dance an Irish jig.
Are you ready? Get your dancing shoes on. ‘Cause here it comes.
Infants and toddlers would make lousy college students.
Okay. Get to boogying.
No? Not even a toe tap? Okay, maybe I was a little overzealous in presenting this information to you. But, as a parent of a two and a half year old, I recently realized this.
Infants and toddlers make lousy college students.
Here’s why. College is all about the pursuit of information—of knowledge. It’s expanding one’s mind with bits of facts and data so that we may become “experts” in a particular field.
But toddlers? They could care less about information. They don’t even know they need it. They don’t even know they’re supposed to be learning something. They don’t know they SHOULD want to learn something.
And, I, as a parent, hadn’t realized this until recently. I honestly thought my two and a half year old son was wanting some sage advice and Biblical instruction from me. And I would engage my young son as if he had willingly arrived on this earth to hear what I had to say.
“Please, Father. May I receive some more of your august tutelage?”
“Why yes, dear boy. Please grab some colored construction paper and take copious notes. Today we learn about…why we don’t eat dirt!”
“Oh, Father. Thank you!”
That last exchange is ridiculous, but that’s basically how I was communicating to my son, and that whole time I was hoping that some how my words…my valuable information…would get through to him. But it never did. He never seemed interested in HEARING anything I had to say.
Well, to maker a long story short (too late!), I recently discovered that even though my son doesn’t seem interested in LISTENING to what I have to say…he is incredibly receptive to WATCHING what I have to say.
Instead of communicating to my son like a boring college professor trying to achieve tenure, I realized that he responds when I talk to him with a more animated approach.
When communicating with my toddler son, it’s my face that does the talking. Not my words. When my face says I am excited, my son gets excited and he listens. When my face is sad, he listens and seems to respond with sympathy. When I make an angry face, he seems to get the point that there’s a mean person in the story I am telling him.
Do I feel silly doing this at times? You bet. But, it seems my son and I are able to communicate when I mix my words with some great facial expressions and animation.
So, when you communicate with those little ones in your small group, remember you aren’t a college professor lecturing on the historical significance of the Eucharist. Don’t forget the importance of engaging your face, your voice, and your body. At their age, your expressions will help them learn more than your words.