We concluded last month’s CMC with the thought that establishing “self-control” in those toddler and pre-school years lays a solid foundation for the years to follow while developing the other four capacities in a child’s life.Before moving on to some practical application, let us further consider the concept of parenting the “whole child” as it is addressed in Parenting from The Tree of Life (Part Two). Mark 12:30 provides insight as to the four capacities of development.
- The heart represents the moral capacity and it’s the duty of parents to help a child internalize virtues that reflect God’s character.
- The soul represents our emotional capacity (the seat of our consciousness) and here again it is the duty of parents to nurture a child’s emotional well-being. In addition, we are to help our children establish internal controls over both positive and negative emotions. This, in part, is accomplished by that early “self-control” training established back in the first 3 years of a child’s life.
- The mind represents our intellectual capacity. Here the duty of parents is to stimulate their child’s intellectual competency. We educate our children in basic skills, logic, and useful knowledge. Once again, that early “self-control” training is what is going to help a child sit still, focus, and concentrate on learning and assimilating all the information provided.
- Strength represents our physical capacity. As parents our duty here is to nurture and provide for our children’s physical growth and well-being, including development of their skills, giftedness, and talents.
To borrow a phrase from the early childhood curriculum, remember to “begin as you mean to go.” Take encouragement from Gal 6:9 and “do not grow weary in your well doing for in due season you will reap a harvest of blessing if you faint not.”
The effort put forth in developing “self-control” (and a child does have that moral capacity!) will profoundly impact the development of the remaining three capacities. Whether you are in the process of training your own children or helping another mom, please know that establishing age appropriate boundaries such as blanket time and room-time helps develop “self-control” within a child. Staying in the funnel starts in the early days of babyhood and continues throughout the pre-school and early elementary age. Now we know it’s easy to read that on a page and another thing to put it all into practice. But knowing the “whys” behind the training provides motivation to keep pressing on using the various “hows” to help your child grow in his ability to maintain “self-control.”
When in doubt about what to do or on an extremely frustrating day, remember the equation:
Beliefs + goals = Why + how = (S)olutions that satisfy (N)eeds
Perhaps reviewing the detailed information found in Toddlerhood Transitions and On Becoming Toddlerwise would be of benefit and would help provide those moments of “self-control” that we ourselves need to exercise.
With the foundation now laid, next month we will move on to the topic of Wisdom and working with a child’s mind and intellect.