by: Mary Barr Rhodes
Discernment is defined as the “ability to judge well. When your children are taught to discern with their bodies, their minds and their hearts, they learn that problem solving can come from a place of true essence. Through learning discernment, your children will be able to face and address more and more difficult decisions as they mature. 

  1. At an early age, discernment begins with the ability to categorize and organize. In the beginning it may be as simple as helping sort vegetables from the garden, or helping to put away the groceries. Children learn to discern through their personal experiences. 
  2. Teaching mindfulness is key to discernment. Guide your children to use all of their senses when they are exploring. In understanding the unique attributes, they begin to understand, appreciate, and to gain personal insight. Here are a few questions that you might ask:

    1. What shape is it?
    2. Does it have weight and take up space?
    3. What does it smell or taste like?
    4. Does it make sound?
    5. Where does it live?
    6. How big is it?
    7. What color is it?
    8. Is there a pattern or texture?
    9. Is there movement?
    10. Is it a living organism?

3. Foster curiosity in your children. In teaching discernment, parents guide the thinking of the child through real-life scenarios that require problem solving. In this process, your children realize that even as a parent, you still question life. In that understanding, your children are given permission and encouraged to question. Simple questioning can jumpstart your children’s own questioning. 

•  What do you think of this situation?

•  What are you feeling about this situation?

•  What are your senses telling you about this situation?

4. Wisdom comes through critical decision-making. Teaching children to quietly observe, to whole-heartedly dive into an experience, and then to have the ability to reflect upon that experience provides the platform for reasoning, communication, and serves as a guide to belief and action. Critical decision-making provides your children with the confidence to conceptualize, to apply, to analyze, to synthesize, and to evaluate. 

Ultimately, discernment gives your children the ability to make decisions consciously, instead of just following orders. In teaching discernment, a strong foundation will support your children as they step out into the larger world. Discernment allows them to trust themselves and others, and in that trust they will be able to better maneuver the dynamic nature of life.



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