“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Traditional approaches to early childhood development have relied heavily on the claims of those who don’t believe in the Creator. As a result, these approaches see human beings as simply another animal. Along with this, they usually think that humans are born into the world as a blank slate with no knowledge. As a result, the traditional view has assumed that everything an infant does is based on instinct.
Few have ever tested these beliefs scientifically. Since the viewpoint agrees with evolution, theorists figured they must be correct. At the same time, many Christians simply accepted the claims because they thought they had been tested and proved scientifically.
Evolutionary thinking led Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget to say that infants are not able to imitate facial gestures until they are about a year old. He further said that infants are not able to imitate actions they have seen before until they are 18 months to two years old. It wasn’t until the last few years that these claims were tested. Researchers found that infants were much smarter than they ever imagined. Infants only 72 hours old – in one case, only 42 minutes old – will imitate someone sticking out his or her tongue. Infants as young as 14 months will imitate actions they saw the day before.
Researchers concluded that infants are born with eagerness and ability to begin to learn from adults. This simple truth makes our example as Christians important to even the youngest child.
Help me, Lord, to be a good example to everyone around me, especially the youngest children. Help me to identify and rid myself of ideas about very young children that may have been influenced by the unbelieving world and to think of children more in the way that You do. Amen.
Miller, Julie Ann. 1985. “Born smart: imitation of life.” Science News, v. 127, June 15. p. 376. Photo: Jean Piaget. (PD)