Many years ago, my artsy friend Val taught me an extraordinary lesson about childhood.
I was leading young moms in a discussion in Val's charming (and child-proofed) family room. Our topic was how a child's confidence, or lack of it, develops between the ages of one and two years. Surprising as it sounds, that is the major developmental task of a one-year-old. A little one's confidence is either built up by loving approval of her impulsive moments of learning, or torn down by endless no-nos and corrections. It is confidence to explore with all her senses that brings explosive new learning into a child's brain.
Val nodded. She stood and reached for a lovely "objet d'art" looking down on us from a shelf above her head. Val placed the ballerina, dressed in gorgeous hues of gold, on her coffee table. Then she called her two toddlers to come and touch! The children's fingers wandered like shy sand crabs over the delicate dancer while Val explained the words "smooth" and "glassy" and "fragile." Satisfied, the girls watched Val return the treasure to a waiting shelf.
"One day, when my children's hands and feet are steadier, I'll put the dancer on the coffee table to stay," Val explained. "The girls will know a friend is joining their play and they'll watch over her. But for now, I'm teaching them to notice and respect beautiful things, like my artist mother taught me. I'm confident (she smiled at her use of the word) that, like me, the children's love of beauty will bring joy to their lives."
In that moment, I was the learner. Val taught me, just as you will teach your children. Don't wait for elusive hours of time that never come. It is in moments – in clumsy, curious moments of discovery – that children gain confidence to be a learner. A vital part of that learning is to "notice and respect beautiful things." Perhaps that is what God intended when He colored His majestic world.
A Colorful Thought: Color your child's confidence with the crayon of approval that lasts a lifetime.