Teaching kids to think like Jesus

August 7, 2011

What would you rather have a child say?

1. I’m not going to “that movie” because my parents, or my small group leader or Sunday school teacher said I shouldn’t.

2.  I’m not going to “that movie” because I don’t think it would please God.

If you choose the first answer you will develop a child who needs to be told what to do for the next questionable movie, the next dangerous and stupid trend, the next drug of choice.  You will develop a child, that if he continues to go to church will depend on the preacher to make her decisions and may never learn to think for herself.

He will not know how to go to God or to God’s Word , and  most likely will not understand the Holy Spirit’s role is helping us to make wise choices.  And as soon as he is free from the confines of the Eternal Watcher (Parents, preachers, and any other morality police) he will make an unwise choice.  It’s almost guaranteed.

If on the other hand you choose the second answer you are on your way to helping raise wise kids.   1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT) says, For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.

It doesn’t say we have the mind of our parent, or teacher or pastor.    Therefore we need to:  Teach kids how to think not what to think.   Kids will learn to repeat our answers if we want them to- but they may never become their answers.  We need to help kids develop critical thinking skills, especially they need to learn  how to make wise decisions.

Here are a few thoughts that might help.

 Expose them to creative thinking– This can be as easy as popular  board games such as Worst Case Scenario – Apples to Apples- they offer kids the opportunity to think and choose.  Ask open-ended questions.  Give them “What if…” scenarios.

Help them to realize that sometimes there is more than one right answer.  Other than schoolwork, and sometimes even including schoolwork, kids need to be exposed to equally valid alternatives.

 Don’t always ask the questions you think you should ask.  The questions with pat answers are just too easy for most kids, and they don’t teach them to think, simply to respond.   If you ask a question like,, “Who was the hero in this story?” follow it up with “ Why?”    And maybe you should ask, “Who is the most interesting person in this story?”  The answer may be King Herod.   Why?

Include “What do you think?” in every lesson plan or family discussion.

Give choices- with consequences whenever possible.

Let them know that God can and will help them.

 Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

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