Advice on Diligently Impressing My Toddler

My 2-year-old boy is at that age where he follows me around most of the day, says just about everything he hears me say and does a lot of what I do. Although flattering, this is actually quite scary at times. Recently, his mimicking behavior has included a few “oh crap”s (thankfully, not anything worse), as well as getting into and trying on my make-up. I’m hoping neither of those things last long!

As frustrating and tiring as my day with a toddler can be sometimes, I know this highly influential time with him is limited. In the not-too-distant future, he’ll probably be calling me by my first name instead of “mommy” and trying to teach me things because I “don’t know anything”. Or, as Justin Garrett described it in a recent sermon and blog post, I’ll get fired as a parent one of these days. With that in mind, I have been thinking quite a bit about God’s commandment to parents in Deuteronomy 6:7-8. “Impress (God’s commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” The ESV version says it this way: “You shall teach (God’s commandments) diligently to your children….”

How can I diligently impress the commandments of God on my children all day long and anywhere we go? Sounds like hard work and something that I know I can’t/don’t do well on my own. So, I decided to ask for advice from some of the seasoned, godly, and wise parents in our church. Below are some of the responses I got. I really appreciate the honesty from these parents. If you have any helpful advice to share, too, please feel free to comment. I’m praying this week that God helps you and me to diligently impress his wonderful commands on our children so that “it may go well” with them (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Parental advice follows…

“We just muddled through toddlerhood, so my first bit of wisdom is: Trust God to grow your kids up. They are His, not yours. They are only on loan. You can’t screw them up so badly that He can’t fix them. Being a good steward of them requires all the same kinds of things it takes to be a good Christian.”

“1. Praying and singing with them at bedtime
2. Reading bible with them (my kids’ favorite was The Rhyme Bible)
3. Talk with them when we played outside and went for walks about everything
God made.
4. Talked about sin with them when they disobeyed. Used discipline time
(spanking) to talk about their need to obey but also about God’s
forgiveness. Prayed for them to obey God and their parents.
5. Let them see me reading my Bible and have them have reading time at the
same time where they looked at books.”

“…As we observed parents who had given away authority and let the kids run the show, those kids didn’t seem to thrive as well and the family would suffer. Thus, we early on maintained the importance of “no” and Eph. 6:1 (one of the first verses the kids memorized). As educators we also know that children do best with structure and clear guidelines and adults who maintain authority. Thus, we tried to balance all of that within consistent love. As we know – it’s always a process and never perfect.”

“One of the ways I tried to teach my little ones about God was through nature. Appreciating God’s beautiful world around them has stuck for my kids. Nature and creation have always been a way for me to connect with God personally. I would mention things like ‘look what God has given us today in this sky or tree, etc….’ I have enjoyed this fruit as they have matured, because most of the time lately they are the ones pointing out the golden leaves, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, clouds, etc. I feel confident they understand why their world is so beautiful, because they know who made it.”

“One thing I feel pretty strong about is stop being so busy! Take time to slow down so you can be patient and you can teach. Stop putting your kids and yourself through hell by letting them do every activity under the sun! Give yourself permission not to be pressured into this crazy American nonsense! When you are too busy, there is not too much time to reflect on God!”

“We didn’t do any sort of lesson I mainly just talked about Jesus a lot in every day conversation. ‘Look at the beautiful sky God made.’ ‘God loves us soooo much and He wants us to take care of the things He gave us’, etc. We read a lot of books, some Bible stories, many not. We also did Growing Kids God’s Way. I found that to be really helpful.”

“We purchased some Bible on cd (for kids) cd’s and the kids listen to them in their rest time. I can’t tell you how many times my four-year-old has recognized verses in church etc. b/c they were on those cd’s (http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=88247&netp_id=3 49356&event=ESRCN&item_code=WW&view=covers).”

“One of the biggest things is having to teach as you correct them many times each day. Everything they do that’s wrong should be tied back to God and whether that action is loving God and others. Using scripture as much as possible in these times. One thing I like a lot and should use more is (this chart): http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=78660&event=CFN. It gives a situation and lists scripture for everything from lying to
disobeying to being destructive with toys, etc.”

“I have seen fruit from teaching the kids at that age simple truths. Like, God is “big”, God “made everything” and God is ‘everywhere’. I am a firm believer that most of what our kids learn is in on-the-go, everyday moments. God has really opened my eyes to look out for teachable moments. To me, that is the key to good parenting. The unstructured times. The praying with them throughout the day. Taking the extra two minutes to explain Who made that “pretty flower” you see on a walk, etc.”

“One thing we’ve always TRY to do is pray scripture w/our kids before bed. Especially on nights when they go to bed sad, fearful, etc…We have written certain verses on note cards and have them near their beds: for example, Ps 4:8 ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety’…We also point out God’s work in all the small (seemingly) details of life – how He’s blessed us with a home, food…How He’s the One to change the seasons, grow the flowers, provide food for the birds.”

“We have Dance Parties a LOT..to the Seeds cd‘s. Afterward I often talk with them about the phrases, what they mean, etc…

“We really try to show our weaknesses to the boys in a way that encourages them…I want them to see me seek forgiveness to them, to (my husband), to God when I’ve been wrong. I think it’s so important to have that modeled well for them.”

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