Parenting IQ: Influential by Abidan Shah, PhD

PARENTING IQ – INFLUENTIAL by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: One of our family favorites is the “Home Alone” movies. If you’ve never seen this movie, it is about a kid who keeps getting left behind by his family. Unfortunately, it has come true more than once in our family. We accidently left behind our older three kids. One got away from us on the Chattahoochee River in Helen, Georgia, while we were inner tubing. One we left behind at the Old Golden Corral. The third one we kept locking in church. Despite our mistakes and failures, our kids still appear to be doing fine. In this second message in our series on parenting, our focus is on children ages 2-12. The title of the message is “Influential.” Main point: The early years of a child’s life are very influential in their growth and development. The sooner we can lead them to Christ the better. Delay in guidance can be detrimental to their coming to Christ.

Mark 10      13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” 16 And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.

Context: That passage has always fascinated me! 

  1. Parents brought little children. The emphasis is on little. The Greek word used here is “paidion,” which according to Hippocrates is up to 7 years old. By the way, the next level is “pais,” which is up to 14 years old. Luke uses the word “brephos,” which can also imply “infants.” In Luke’s gospel, “paidion” and “brephos” are used synonymously.
  2. Parents trusted Jesus. They would never let anyone touch their children who was suspicious.
  3. Parents are the same then as today. They wanted the best for their children. They had heard that this Jesus was someone very special sent from God, and they wanted his touch/influence on their children’s lives.
  4. Jesus was indignant/angry. The word is “aganakteo.”
  5. Jesus did more than just permit the children to come to him. He made them the standard. 

Nicole – Once again, on the Life Span Development (how human beings change over time, specifically children), our focus is on Childhood (ages 2-12). It can be divided into 4 sections:

Age 2-3

  • Mental – attention span about 3-4 minutes. They believe all that you say
  • Emotional – curious; need order, routine & repetition. When frustrated, temper appears
  • Social – self-centered; imitates parents; attitudes towards others, authority, parents & God is formed 

Age 4-5

  • Mental – attention span 5-10 minutes. Reasoning is based on appearance, observation not always accurate
  • Emotional – begins to understand right from wrong. Enjoys being obedient especially when praised
  • Social – Imitates adults; leadership skills begin; can share

Age 6-8

  • Mental – attention span up to 20-25 minutes. Concrete & literal thinkers
  • Emotional – tells you how they feel. Thrives on praise & acceptance. Lacks self-control. Self-confident
  • Social – wants to be accepted in groups. Assertive-wants to be first, best, biggest & to win. Generosity & kindness begins

Ages 9-12

  • Mental – attention span 30-45 minutes. More abstract thinking begins, such as sin.
  • Emotional – begins to understand principles behind rules. Sensitive to own failures & shortcomings. Objective thinking
  • Social – wants to join in with the beliefs & values of adults in their lives. Can be unselfish

Last year, in our Strategy Planning meetings, after much prayer, study, and discussion, we came up with a profile of what we desire in our children (2-12 years of age). Keep in mind that these are desires, not goals. Goals are for self, but desires are for others. We have these 14 desires for our kids. We hope that parents will adopt them as desires for their own children. Rebecca and Kelsey will go over each of them with us.


  • We need to understand the way that kids think, but we also don’t need to underestimate the way that they think.
  • Kids understand consequences at a very young age. They can understand that they will get something bad if they don’t accept Jesus into their heart.
  • Although, baptism doesn’t save us, it is a very important step in our spiritual walk. It is a representation of our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Kelsey – 2. SERVANTS

  • Young children, especially those in the 2 to 7-year-old category (Preoperational Stage of development), are egocentric and are still learning how to see things from other people’s perspectives.
  • This does NOT mean that they are “stuck in selfishness” – we can and should always expect more from our kids because they are still very capable.


  • Kids should start reading the Bible at an early age. They can understand a lot more than we think. We have a systematic plan to go through the entire Bible with them.
  • You should guide them when they’re reading the Bible, just like you would guide them when they’re learning something new. 

Kelsey – 4. LEADERS

  • Kids learn best when they have a model to emulate, especially within social interactions with their peers. Therefore, we expect our Blaze kids to become these leadership models for newer and younger children to follow, & eventually become similar leaders themselves.
  • It’s important to let your kids interact with older children and to spend time with other adult leaders besides their parents because it opens up the first steps towards independence. However, you still need to be selective.

Rebecca – 5. BOLD

  • Bold means to be confident or courageous. Kids will be pushed to be bold in sports or music or school, but are they pushed to be bold spiritually? Kids are pushed to take chances in sport, music, or school, but are they pushed to take chances when sharing the Gospel? That’s what we want for our Blaze Kids. We challenge them.
  • There are plenty of models for boldness in the Old and New Testaments – David and Goliath, Esther before the King, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene at the grave.


  • Unafraid to share the Gospel; Develop a lifestyle or habit of sharing the Good News with others; and not just comfortable but excited to do it.
  • Jesus tells us to come to him with the faith of a child – but he’s not talking about being uneducated or gullible. Kids are smarter than that, Rebecca and I see evidence of that every week. What He’s talking about is how a child’s heart is primed and ready to believe what the Bible says because they aren’t yet calloused and hardened by painful experiences in the world.


  • I heard a parent say something really cool after their kid got baptized. They said, “This is the most important decision he will ever make. It effects who he marries, where he goes to college, & just everything.” That’s so true! You can’t go wrong teaching your kids to be spiritually minded.
  • By the way, there’s a big difference between super spiritual and being spiritual. The first is external, but the second is internal.


  • We prioritize songs & music time during all our regular kids’ programs, whether in Blaze on Sunday mornings, AWANA or Summer Sports Camp on Wednesdays, or VBS during the summer. Of course, some kids are going to get more “into it” than others, but we want to start shaping their attitudes early towards worship
  • There’s a reason that one of our church’s core values is Praise & Worship. Singing songs with the kids is giving them more than just a fun time dancing around with their friends. Worship is a time to praise and glorify our God, the King of the Universe. It helps them put God at the first place in their hearts.


  • We don’t have to convince you that morality is at an all-time low in our culture and society.
  • We want our Blaze Kids’ standard for morality to be high. We want them to be higher than what is normal for kids their ages because they need to stand out among the crowd, so people will ask what is different. If morality is set high at a young age, they tend to stay high their whole lives.

Kelsey – 10. RESPECTFUL

  • Good eye contact, polite, feel comfortable talking to adults (not just hide behind their parents)
  • Each of our Blaze rules have this expectation at its core. Not only do Rebecca and I talk to the kids about WHY each rule matters, we have the kids explain each of them back to us – which helps engrain the meaning of each rule within them and helps them develop a healthy respect for other people.
  • Remember your own influence upon your children. A parent’s influence is extremely impactful on a child’s developing priorities and big-picture attitude about things. Your attitude and attendance are also important.


  • In Clearview children’s ministries, the kids are taught that they are beautifully and wonderfully made just the way they are. If they were created by God as a boy, they are wonderfully made to be a boy & vice versa. When people change that about themselves, they are saying that God made a mistake.
  • Also, every life matters, even the unborn.

Kelsey – 12. MATURE

  • This is much more than just knowledgeable about the Bible. This is also about a sense of maturity about life and relationships.
  • We sometimes ask them tough questions in Blaze, especially when it comes to things like what sin really is, or how certain behaviors affect other people.
  • Like I mentioned earlier in relating questions and lessons back to their own personal experiences. Kids can make those connections and learn how their attitudes, behaviors, and decisions can affect others.

Rebecca – 13. STEADFAST

  • This goes hand in hand with saved & baptized. In Clearview children’s ministry, our goal is that when kids get saved & baptized that nothing can make them doubt or question their decision.
  • We emphasized this a lot during the pandemic. Our kids will face difficult times in the future when their faith will be challenged. They need to be like a Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They need to be unshaken.

Kelsey – 14. LIKEABLE

  • This does not mean becoming people-pleasers who only make choices based on hoping they’re liked.
  • We want them to be someone that people want to be around or that people naturally gravitate toward. This means teaching kids even just basic social or conversational skills such as don’t make the conversation revolve around yourself, learning to ask questions about the other person or to keep the conversation flowing. Avoiding social faux pas or inappropriate behavior or speech. Just like Dr. Shah was talking about last weekend, the ultimate purpose of having kids is to have strong leaders and world-changers to replace us when we are gone. They will be most effective in reaching others with the Gospel, and as future leaders in whatever else they set out to accomplish, if they are pleasant to be around, kind and compassionate.

Invitation: Again, these are not goals but desires for our children. They may not always meet those desires but that’s where grace comes in. What are your desires for your children? Are you leading them to Christ? Are you praying for other kids? Do you have the heart of a child? If you’re lost, are you willing to come with a childlike faith?

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