How do you determine if a child has the ability to do something or not?
After writing about Bethel not knowing how to whisper, I started having doubts… Isn’t it doubtful that she doesn’t know how to whisper? Those who read probably are thinking, “What a dumb mother who is taking this extra step to determine what this child almost certainly already knows!”
The biggest way to tell if something is within a child’s ability to do (and control) is how the child responds when he or she actually wants to do what you’re asking. A classic example of this is when I’m working with parents of a child with disabilities. Because sometimes performance is spotty (one time the child aces a spelling test, although most times she gets an F), parents assume that the child is simply lazy or rebellious whenever she performs poorly in school. But often these children have a great desire to please their parents or do well on a test. That’s why failing can be so discouraging. When parents are able to actually help a child succeed, they are often amazed at the difference in attitude, and they understand that this particular behavior problem was not primarily a sin problem. If the problem is primarily rebellion, the problem won’t go away even after the parents are certain of the child’s ability.
With Bethel, we were listening to a story on tape. She asked for the story, and was interested in it to some degree, so I’m fairly certain that she wanted to hear it; however, she continued to talk loudly during the story. I asked her if she could talk softly. “I talking softly, Mommy!” she said loudly, and actually thought she was being quiet! This is the sort of insight that I pray for, and for which I am thankful. This week we’ll work on this.