Parents are teachers. (We’ve said that before…)
A teacher’s job is to explain and persuade and get students to change their behavior as a result.
That’s what the Heath Brothers’ book “Made To Stick” is all about.
Making Life’s Lessons Stick
Every day is filled with lessons that range from divine to down to earth. We want more than anything for these lessons to ‘stick.’ We want our kids to remember what we teach them, and we want them to change their actions accordingly. What if you found out that there were some small changes you can make to your message that will make it more likely to stick? That’s what the last book in my “Tour de Heath Brothers” is all about.
Like Switch and Decisive, Made to Stick is a long book describing a simple point. They use a lot of stories to make their concepts come to life in a way that helps you understand. And this is no accident, because ‘story’ is one of the most important ways that you can make an idea stick. (This should come as no surprise, because the Master Messenger drove His points home with stories.) In Made to Stick, they list 6 keys for SUCCESs that make an idea stick:
This involves figuring out your core message, and then making sure that this simple point is clear. Sometimes this will mean that you put the main point right up front. Other times you will tell more of a story to get to the point, but you will end with a simple but profound punchline. Think of the Proverbs as an example. Analogies are another way to compare something complicated to something that they understand.
A great way to catch their attention is to explain it in an unexpected way. Kids are naturally curious, so you can tap into that curiosity by creating a mystery or asking them something that they don’t know. You can have a lot of fun with this one as you bring them along a learning adventure with you.
This is an area where sometimes I struggle. I like to talk about theories and philosophies, which make sense to me, but for someone who is unfamiliar with the topic it is hard to pin it down. Our brains are much better at remembering concrete things rather than abstract. This is why we love to use Aesop’s fables to teach our kids – it is much easier to remember the animals and their shenanigans. (See our series of Storytimes!) When Jesus described The Kingdom of God, He tied it to the tangible…a field, a treasure, a pearl, and a mustard seed. Our lessons will stick in their minds if we can tie them to something real that they can understand.
Luckily for us, this is easy. None of our kids have hit the teenage years yet, so we are still the most credible source in their universe. Next to God, of course. So for now, this is easy. We can still add layers of credibility by having the children prove it for themselves. We have had a couple situations where God has come through for our kids, and that is a wonderful thing! They don’t have to take our word for it – they have experienced it for themselves. Same is true of science experiments, which are concrete, sometimes unexpected, and often simple. Another layer of credibility that we are thinking about now is how to involve other family members and friends in the teaching of our kids. (More on that another day.)
As a logical and rational person, this one is a little out of my normal zone. I tend to teach to the head, not the heart, but I am learning that our emotions play a big role in our learning. Sometimes you have to really feel it to understand it. Asking your kids to use their imaginations to put themselves into the place of others is one way that you can get their emotions involved in their training. Historical fiction (Little House, etc) is a way that they can ‘live out’ the real, personal side of history. The authors also talk about the importance of ‘Identity,’ which is an important part of our kids’ development. We need to help our kids shape their identity in a way that will guide them through important lessons. The authors point out that most of us make decisions by saying “What would a person like me do in a situation like this?” So, the parent’s key role is to help the child define what kind of person they are, so that their sense of identity will pull them in the right direction.
The final step in your SUCCESs is stories. As mentioned before, Jesus used stories masterfully. Stories bring inspiration. Stories can tie together all of the other elements to prove a point and make it memorable. I love biographies for this reason, and I love to have my kids learn about the world through the eyes of real people. And don’t forget your own stories. Since Adam, the younger generation has learned about God and life and all things important by listening to adults tell stories. Be purposeful, and tell your kids stories that will help them understand the world and their future.
As you train up your kids in the way they should go, keep these 6 tips in mind. And you know the rest: when they are old they will stick with it!
The Heath Brothers‘ Website has lots of free printables when you sign up.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.