Children come to us with their unique personalities and varying needs. Emotionally sensitive children are easily overwhelmed by situations that may not impact other children as much. They tend to worry more and cry often. They are emotional and intense. This means that they are most likely to become overexcited, angrier than they should, and fearful of getting into trouble. Thus, sensitive children require a great deal of understanding and more effort on our part to promote their sense of assurance and self-esteem which is needed for everyone’s joy in life.
WHY IS CAREFUL CONSIDERATION IN MENTORING TO SENSITIVE CHILDREN IMPORTANT?
Mentoring children is unique, and probably requires more intentional effort, patience, great understanding, and God given wisdom than regular mentoring. It is about relating, nurturing, teaching, guiding, disciplining, and role-modeling by experienced and trusted adults. Although it is more demanding and requires more effort in many ways, it is also more rewarding as well. Children are being mentored continually through parenting efforts and teaching by school church teachers. The two primary goals of Christian mentoring to children are: faith-building and character formation.
SENSITIVE CHILDREN FACE GREATER CHALLENGES EMOTIONALLY.
Sensitive children are not just easily embarrassed or shy. They face more challenges than we see, and we need to understand the reasons behind certain behaviors. Boys are perceived as brave, playful, and courageous. We learn, however, that not all boys are brave or outspoken. Children who have been bullied, abused, neglected, or have faced trauma will most likely dwell on the negative side of their experiences. Some of their expressed or inert behaviors may also be related to some mental health conditions. Stereotyping children with our preconceived ideas and assumptions may not be helpful in many cases.
The sensitivity of emotional children is a promising quality. Sensitive children do possess some very promising traits that we could use to further develop their faith and trust in God, including their likelihood to be naturally sensitive and observant. They are very quick to understand the difficulties others face. They are easily moved and sensitive to others’ needs. With this sensitivity to others, combined with the challenges they face, they need to be mentored closely and carefully. Adults must rely on the power of relationships and connection. Getting to know each child personally is very essential. Besides our relentless effort in mentoring sensitive children and promoting their emotional and mental health, we need the intentional and persisting effort of those around them, and assistance from professionals. To elevate these children’s sense of self and overcome their oversensitivity requires strong role-modeling and many growth opportunities.
THE NEED OF COMBINED MENTORING EFFORTS FOR SENSITIVE CHILDREN
Parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caring adults have the responsibility to share with children their knowledge of God. They have to witness to them what He has done in their own lives, and thus lead them to full confidence and a sense of assurance in God. Together, adults must analyze how their developed Christian mindsets have resulted in their self-esteem and trust in God and inculcate to sensitive children a sense of confidence in God’s leading. They need affirmation and confirmation of that belief and trust. The Bible tells us clearly that “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). God has created and designed each one of us for good works – thoughts, words, and actions that are pleasing to Him. We are to become blessings to those around us.
There is a need for mentoring by dutiful parents. Mrs. White pointed out that character building is the divine commission to parents. It is the duty and responsibility that parents can accomplish by God’s grace. She also said, “He who would secure a harvest for usefulness or beauty must first prepare the soil and sow the seed, then dig about the young shoots, removing the weeds and softening the earth, and the precious plants will flourish and richly repay his care and labor,” (CG, 169.1). Mrs. Ellen G. White also stated, “A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven, we are continuing to improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life (CG, 161.1).” Those who provide godly instruction must be under the instruction of Christ themselves. Mrs. White also emphasized the consistency of parenting and mentoring. She said, “The work of parents is continuous. It should not be laid hold of vigorously for one day, and neglected the next…They are eager to do some great thing, to make some great sacrifice; but they shrink from the unceasing care and effort in little things of everyday life, – the hourly pruning and training of the wayward tendencies, the work of giving instruction, reproof, or encouragement, little by little, as it is needed,” (ST, August 12, 1913, para 3).
There is the power of grandparenting. We have learned that, besides parental effort in guiding and nurturing children and helping them to gain confidence and emotional strength, others are actively involved in a child’s life who can help enormously in mentoring. From these other mentors come some desirable outcomes such as elevating self-esteem, and assurance of God’s help. Those who can greatly contribute are those who live in or have frequent encounters with children, and they are the grandparents. Proverbs 13:22 claims, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” While this verse applies to material wealth, it is more important to leave a heritage of faith. In Exodus 10:2 God commands the Israelites to share “in the hearing of your son and of your grandson … what signs I have done … that you may know that I am the LORD.”
THE BIBLE IS A POWERFUL TEACHING SOURCE FOR SENSITIVE CHILDREN.
The Bible reminds us, “The study of the Bible will give strength to the intellect… the entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple “(Psalm 119:130). Children who are less confident and less self-assured may find confidence through their discovering of God’s promises in the Bible. The evidence of His faithfulness and endless mercies can generate a very powerful desire to live their lives under God’s promises and care. The persistent teaching of Bible lessons at home, school, and church can help facilitate the children’s understanding and conceptualization of God, and the positive value He has placed upon them. These will inspire them, and greatly impact their view of themselves and the world around them. God’s word has a powerful effect on people’s perception of themselves and others, and they may act according to their developed thought patterns and feelings.
As caring adults, we must realize that spiritual upbringing and emotional nurturing are interrelated in promoting the well-being of a person. A balanced mindset is brought about by continuous love, care, and respect; and through constant effort in elevating and promoting self-esteem from childhood years. Children will understand the high value we place on them when we make our thoughts and perceptions be known through kind expressions and actions. This will boost their self-confidence and sense of assurance. Likewise, the value God places on children can be revealed to our children through persistent spiritual mentoring and sharing of God’s word and promises. These will lead them to develop full confidence in God and His unconditional love. Mrs. White concludes, “God has permitted light from His throne to shine all along the path of life. A pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, is moving before us as before ancient Israel. It is the privilege of Christian parents today, as it was the privilege of God’s people of old, to bring their children with them to the promised land,” (ST, August 12, 1913, para 6). The ultimate goal of any type of spiritual mentoring is for mentees to be directed heavenward!