A little boy asked his grandpa a question. Grandpa smiled and answered the question. The little boy quickly asked another question and grandpa answered it. He immediately followed with another question. This time grandpa looked at his four year old grandson and said, “Matthew, you have a lot of questions, today.”
The little boy looked up at his grandpa and replied, “But Grandpa, I need a lot of answers.”
Kids ask the tough questions. The questions are pure and innocent. They are not couched in political correctness, politeness, or family or social conventions. They come from the child’s observations of us and their environment.
If a four year old asks a question, we give him the information in a way that he can digest and understand. If a fourteen year old asks the same question, again we must give him the information in a way that he can understand. It is the same question requiring the same answer, but the information is modified to the child’s level of understanding. Making that adjustment places a huge responsibility on the parents, on Grandpas and on those who influence our children.
How do children learn?
Children use all their senses to gather information. They see, hear, feel, smell and touch. They process the information which then becomes the foundation for future interactions. A four year old may run from loud noises because he associates the noises with a frightening loud noise as an infant. A fourteen year old turns up the sound so he can feel the vibration and aggravate the neighbors.
Interesting, a child observes how his parents interact. He sees and feels the respect that they have for one another. Years later, that can translate into how the child as an adult, relates to his spouse. The parents may not have even realized that they were teaching without talking.
Who are the teachers?
We are all teachers. We are always on stage. If children learn through their senses, then any interaction with children is a teaching moment. We are teaching without talking. In the book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, the author talks about the doctor who was raising a fuss at the Home Depot store because he had dandelions in his daffodils. A teenager, standing by his dad, didn’t see an old man with a daffodil issue. He saw his family doctor raising a fuss with the sales clerk. He thought that he would never want to be a doctor because based on what he was seeing, doctors are arrogant and disrespectful to other people. The daffy doctor had a significant affect on the young man’s career decision. Hopefully the young man had other teachers in his life that helped him to choose his career based on good credible information. Did the daffy doctor know he was on stage? Yes. But he thought the audience was made up of all daffodil lovers who supported his protestations against dandelions.
Children do ask the tough questions but so do the people around us every day. We can influence people simply by our presence. Children learn from our actions. Like little Mathew, they need a lot of answers but they often don’t know what question to ask. They watch, listen, and experience their environment. As they learn, their curiosity spawns the questions. The old saying, “when the student it ready, the teacher will appear.” We are all teachers to someone. We just don’t know who is the student or when he will be ready to learn. It’s not too complicated. Our actions can affect children attitudinal and social development. We are always on stage.
Adults judge our actions. Our actions can affect our own personal and career development. If we ignore our responsibility for our personal and career development, it only affects us. But if we abdicate our responsibility to our children, then we not only hurt them, but our action has a generational affect. Our children learn from us and will teach the next generation. We are always on stage. We must take responsibility for our performance. There is always an audience. Give your best performance.