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Ten Ways You Can Shape a Child's Life
by Dr. Clyde Narramore

It has been said that the most precious thing a person touches here upon earth is a child. When we reach out to a child with a positive influence, this is one of the most important things we will ever do in a lifetime.

There are a number of reasons why this is so.

First, a child's mind is open and pliable. Remember when Jesus took a child, set him in the middle of His

Ten Ways You Can Shape a Child's Life

disciples, and said, "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). In this, Jesus was showing us that a child's mind is humble, open, and eager to learn. It is not yet set in rigid, inflexible lines. There is room for new truth to enter and influence that life.

Little children have faith. Their hearts and minds have yet to develop prejudices and doubts. They are impressionable, and as parents and teachers, it is a tremendous privilege as well as a solemn responsibility to influence their eager minds.

Second, what a child learns early in life will usually influence him throughout his entire lifetime. So if we have something worthwhile to invest, the heart and mind of a child is the most productive soil and will bring the longest lasting rewards. An author, now unknown, once wrote:

The heart of a child is a scroll,
A page that is lovely and white;
And to it as fleeting years roll
Come hands with a story to write.
Be ever so careful, O hand–
Write thou with a sanctified pen
Thy story shall live in the land
For years, in the doings of men.
It shall echo in circles of light,
Or lead to the death of a soul,
Give here but a message of right,
For the heart of a child is a scroll!

Third, if you don't influence a child with a positive word or even a pleasant smile, perhaps no one else will on that particular day. For instance, a young boy who listened to our radio broadcast wrote, "I like to listen to you because you're the only person who speaks kindly to me all day. Everyone else yells at me."

How sad. But how rewarding to be the one kind voice in a little child's life.

Maybe nobody yelled at you when you were a child, so you did not have this negative input. But as your memory reaches back into your own childhood, are there certain people who are still having an influence on you—because they did or said something positive that made a difference in your life? Something you've never forgotten?

Taking an interest in children doesn't
take any particular skill; it doesn't cost
anything; but it pays big dividends.

We all need to be on the alert for opportunities to influence children positively. Some people may say, "But I don't have a son or daughter to influence!" Just because you don't have children of your own doesn't mean you don't have opportunities to influence children. While parents have more responsibility, as well as more daily opportunities, an interested teacher or a thoughtful neighbor can have a very positive influence in helping to mold a child's future. That student or that neighbor child may grow up to bless you for your concern and interest in him or her; you could be the one outstanding person in their eyes.

Taking an interest in children doesn't take any particular skill; it doesn't cost anything; but it pays big dividends! I repeat, this may be one of the most important things you will ever do in your lifetime—that of influencing a child.

Sometimes we have negative attitudes toward children. And well we may if we don't look under the surface and try to understand the why of their behavior. If we had the same experiences that a child has had, we would likely act just as he or she is acting. Many of today's children are growing up with the challenge of being raised by only one parent. Others, although both parents are there, rarely see them because of the demands of making a living, or parents may be pursuing their own interests which do not include their children. They don't show them love and affection. Consequently, their children don't feel important and worthwhile.

On the other hand, I have yet to see or know a normal child who will not respond to friendliness and genuine interest from an adult. Try it! You'll find it pays.

Children are meant to be social beings.
God made them that way. So
if you don't pay attention to them,
they will turn to others who do.

Here are ten ways you can influence any child:

1. Notice the child: How often I've heard children say, "They don't notice me. They don't even know I'm here." Even adults know how that feels. We don't want to be ignored. We want to be noticed. Being noticed tells us that we matter—that we're important. Think how devastated a young child must feel when he's completely passed over and ignored. When he's treated like nothing, he feels like nothing. Jesus never treated children this way. He noticed them.

In some periods of history, people believed that children should be seen but not heard. What a shame! Children should be seen and heard! God endowed human beings with the ability to speak. He also gave us inquisitive minds. He wants us to speak, to listen, and to ask questions. Children need to be noticed.

Continued on Page Two


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