Thursday, December 4, 2014

Carefully Taught

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:5-9

A few weeks ago Hubby and I tried a new church.  We really like the church we've been attending, and we especially love the friends we've made, but we've felt led to try another church for a time to consider making a change.

The new church where we went has a nursery for babies age 6-24 months.  This is completely different from our previous church, where children stay in church with their parents until age 2, when they are welcomed to attend Children's Church.

I can see pros and cons in both ways of handling young children.  I think children should worship with their families, and I think children can learn to play quietly in places like church.  I also think children are given a great opportunity to socialize for a short time together in a toddler room while they spend some time away from Mama and Daddy.

My biggest issue regarding the nursery, however, is probably something I will struggle with, as a mother, for the next 20 years.  Tracey Ann needs to be carefully taught.

Tracey Ann has had very limited exposure to peers, not because we are against socializing her, but she is home every day, and we don't have many opportunities for her to socialize with babies her age.  So, Tracey Ann and I spent a little time together in the nursery room while visiting this church, and she made herself right at home playing with some toys and watching the other children.  The babies in there were all monitored and kept safe, but I couldn't consider leaving Tracey Ann in the nursery without me for one simple reason, Tracey Ann needs to be carefully taught.

In the nursery room, a few boys were told "Don't hit," or "Don't grab the toy," but they were never given a replacement behavior to do instead.  Tracey Ann is not to the point, yet, of grabbing a toy or hitting another child... but she will be in time, and when that happens, she needs to gently and carefully be taught why we don't hit or grab toys, and how we lovingly ask our friend to share, and how we take turns.

Some might say that Tracey Ann is too young to be taught these big lessons (I think my husband might even be one), but I would intrinsically disagree.  Tracey Ann's beautiful little brain is taking in EVERYTHING.  Now, I am not under any delusions of grandeur that she will miraculously say at 11 months, "Excuse me, Friend, might I borrow that interesting toy when you're through playing with it?  I would greatly appreciate your sharing with me."  But, she is going to consistently be introduced to the behavior we expect, and, over time, my lessons will take root.

Also, as her mother, I can't just let her be her own boss for two years and then start lessons on sharing and kindness and expect them to have an impact... I'm in training too.  I need to implement these lessons, this language, these expectations now so that they are old hat by the time she is 18-, 20-, and 24 months.

I want Tracey Ann to spend time in the nursery, but, I am going to be the mother that is in there with her every minute -- not because I live in fear, not because I don't trust other adults... but because my daughter has very limited exposure to other children and these are lessons she needs to be carefully taught... and, for now, she needs to be carefully taught by her Mama.

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