Metacognition is thinking about thinking.
I wrote a bit about answering the question “How did they behave?” I’d like to follow up with a few more thoughts about the thinking behind and around the question itself.
The occasion of the post was a genuinely profitable and enjoyable spiritual conversation at the playground with a child who struggles with being good. I wanted to share my joy with the parents because I was reminded how encouraging it has been in my life when someone has seen past the faults of my children to see their God-given strengths that will be profitable in God’s kingdom in years to come. I would like to be an encourager like that.
I wrote because as I pick up my own children from church, I hear parents around me asking the teacher about their child’s behavior, and I hear the responses of the workers. Maybe I’ve heard only the negative workers, but I’m surprised how often the answer is a detailed account of the misbehavior of the child in question. I see the discouraged looks on the young parents. These are parents who are working on matters of obedience, attention, and respect. They desire to please the Lord by asking for a report. And the well-meaning workers believe they are helping the parents by giving a detailed and unmitigated report of this sort.
I realize this goes back to the question of when to ignore behavior, so I’m probably getting ahead of myself. There are indeed times where it is appropriate to share occasions of misbehavior. I ask about my child’s behavior, and I do address problems when they are shared (sometimes I don’t, I admit). But sometimes it might be good not to ask. Not to volunteer anything but the good. To encourage the parents. Pray for them and their children. And love them enough to see something the parents might need to see as well.
Try it yourself. Practice on some naughty toddler whose parents look a little tired. You get bonus points if you find a parent of a child with a disability or who has two or three children under three. Think of the God-given personality traits that may be a blessing some day, and share them with that child’s parents.
For your own children, and for those you regularly spend time with, think about what you want to accomplish when you ask for (or give) a report on behavior. Consider how the knowledge will help accomplish those goals, and then ask God for the grace to love your children by seeing how those personality traits that can be troublesome have been designed by God in the first place.