Teaching Early and Often

Reading: “Teaching Morality to Your Children,” Terrance D. Olsen, Ensign, March 1981

Today I took my daughter to Peekabo Time at the local Babies R Us.  We had quite a lot of fun, and it was interesting to me to see her playing with the other children.  She is only 10 months old, but loves to be around other kids.  Sometimes, since she doesn’t really understand language yet, there were situations where I had to take her away.  I couldn’t explain to her that this toy was being played with by someone else, or that she needed to keep moving in the tunnel so the other kids could come through, so I just had to pick her up and remove her from the situation. (Mostly she just had a ton of fun.)

As I watched the older kids, though, I saw varying differences in how they handled the situation.  Some kids were shy, some kids were orderly and quiet at the appropriate times, and some needed more help from their parents.  They were too young to say that any of them behaved badly, but it was interesting to see how they handled the different situations.

All of this got me thinking ahead and how I can teach my own daughter the skills she will need as she gets older.  Right now those skills are as simple as learning to listen to commands, learning to share, learning to be gentle with other kids, and learning to sit for short periods of time.  Not that I expect her to learn them any time soon, but I do feel a responsibility to help her learn these important skills.

This lead me to seeking out a talk about teaching things to young children to write about today.  What I found was Olsen’s Ensign article on teaching morality to children.  I found this article to be a great primer on teaching children early, but appropriately.

One thing he encouraged was looking ahead five years and teaching children now the things they will need to know for that period of their lives.  For example, right now I would need to start to teach my daughter the skills she would need to go to school, and to teach her very basic concepts about the gospel.

He also said that by teaching our children correct principles, they will then extend that knowledge to the situations they face.  We can’t teach our children how to handle every situation they may encounter, but we can give them the knowledge they need to make the correct applications to those situations.

Today I am going to brainstorm in my journal about things that I would like to have my daughter understand in five years, and then brainstorm some ideas for making sure I am starting to teach those things in a way she understands.

How do you teach your children the things they need to know for the future?  Or, can you remember things that you learned as a young child that have influenced decisions you made as a teenager or adult?


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