“Mom!” my five-year-old son exclaimed. “Dad said the F word.” His mom, my wife, thankfully decided to ask some follow-up questions. Turns out he heard me saying “freaking.” Kids are listening more than you think—and they’re changing faster than you can imagine.
My son is growing up and processing everything, including what he hears his dad saying. He’s changing. He’s maturing. Child development happens so fast. Here are 4 changes to be ready for with your kids.
Maybe you have young kids now. If not, think back and recall all the physical changes they’ve had. Kids go from laying there crying, to rolling over, sitting up, standing, and walking. From walking, it isn’t long before they’re running. My youngest is at the stage of climbing everything. He loves to get up behind me when I’m working at my desk and climb as high as he can. He usually gets wrapped around my neck before he stops. It’s often annoying—until I’m reminded that he won’t do this forever. Kids change so quickly. We need to take advantage of the time we have with them in every stage.
This is a crazy time unlike any other when you think about it. During those early years, we need to be there physically for our kids and engage with them. Sure, talk all you can, but just being there to get on the floor, wrestle, and horseplay is invaluable for your child. By showing up, you’re creating a bond that won’t easily be broken.
Your child’s first relationships are with you and his or her mom. Then come siblings and other family members. My son is in kindergarten and learning about friends of his own. Soon, there’ll be birthday parties every weekend. It’s a vital time for your child to learn how to interact with others.
Who you hang out with matters. Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Proverbs 13:20 says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” The point is, as your child matures, he or she will be strongly influenced by many voices. I’ve not enjoyed kindergarten for any of my three kids, mostly because I’ve seen how my kids are influenced by classmates. They came home like different kids than the ones I dropped off at school.
Be prepared for the influence of others on your kids. It happens quicker than you think. That said, over time, your voice as a dad shapes your kid’s life more than any friend. Keep talking to your kids. Talk about everything early and often. You’re storing up points for later so when they really need your help, they’ll come to you.
Think about those first years, when your child quickly learns words and language. Every experience is new and exciting. My son will jump for joy to go to the store with me on a quick errand. I’m treasuring it now because I know it won’t be long before I get a sigh—like when I ask my teen to go with me now. My youngest wants to “help” with anything. And, he questions everything—always asking why this or that exists or why the grass is green. Kids learn to talk and have feelings quickly.
One study says we spend less than 85 minutes a day with our kids. We must guard our time with our kids as they mature. It takes time to truly connect with your kid. We need to be available for long periods of time in order to be there mentally and be engaged. As your kids age, they’ll have more and more experiences and circumstances that need your care and advice.
More unseen but just as vital, your child is developing spiritually. You have a huge role in every change, but especially in the spiritual development of your child. In fact, you are your child’s primary disciple-maker. Whether you know and love God or you ignore God’s role in life, you have an influence on your child’s spiritual development. You either point your child to God or away from Him.When you rightly relate to God, you can relate to yourself, others, and your circumstances rightly.
The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36-39).” Then he said, “All the law and the prophets depend on these two commands (Matt. 22:40).” Everything hinges on your view of God. When you rightly relate to God, you can relate to yourself, others, and your circumstances rightly. Relating to God is the most important thing your kids will do—so they need to see it modeled well with you.
Sound off: Which area do you need to help your child with the most?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s your favorite way to play with me?”