Teaching Your Toddler About God

You have just brought home a precious new baby. When should you start teaching him or her about God? As strange as it may seem, teaching your baby about God is a great way to start helping him or her build a strong faith foundation.

Science is constantly learning more about what babies might understand. Because they aren’t verbal yet, it’s almost impossible to know for sure. Many early memories are more like photos – visual since they haven’t learned words yet. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these early visual memories and the first words they understand are about God?!

Babies and toddlers aren’t ready for complex ideas. Since much of faith is abstract, they may not fully understand even the things they can repeat about God. That’s okay. What is important is that they are hearing them regularly. These early concepts about God should be almost as familiar to them as basic information about themselves or their families.

So what are some of the things you should teach your baby or toddler about God?

  • God made everything. You can repeat this general statement as well as pointing out some of the many things God created one by one. Don’t forget, God also made the materials and gave people the intellect and talents to make the things we often call man-made, too.
  • God loves us. Everything in Christianity revolves around the idea of God’s love for us.
  • The Bible is a book with the things God wants us to know in it. Toddlers are a bit young to begin learning more details about the Bible. Those concepts can be introduced as they approach the preschool years.
  • Basic Bible stories. You can use a baby or toddler “Bible”. These reduce basic Bible stories to a few sentences. Some encourage toddlers to make movements to accompany the stories. Continue reading through these stories over and over. Repetition is important to help toddlers begin to remember some of the basics of these Bible stories.
  • Prayer is how we talk to God. Prayers with babies and toddlers should be short and simple. Rote prayers are fine, but it is also good to pray for things that are impacting your family in some way.
  • The Church is made up of Christians. We meet together to worship God and learn more about Him. Christians are a family of God’s people. It is important to begin teaching children from very young ages that the Church is the people, not just a building. They need to also regularly hear that Christians are a family of God’s people. It is also good for them to learn a couple of the basic purposes of our worship services.
  • God is good. God is the very definition of goodness. Children should hear that regularly from the youngest of ages.
  • Jesus is God’s son. Yes, the trinity is more complex than that. At this age though, you can begin introducing Jesus to them as God’s son.
  • God is smarter than any person. Many of the spiritual problems people have as they get older start with a lack of humility. They may not say it, but they think they are smarter and wiser than God. Teaching children from the very beginning that God is smarter and wiser than humans, can perhaps encourage them to remain humble as they grow older.
  • When we disobey God, it makes Him sad. Obviously, the concepts of sin, repentance, forgiveness and grace are much more complex. The first concept for them to understand is that our sins make God sad. For little ones, it is easier for them to understand obeying and disobeying than the idea of sin.
  • Our family loves God and wants to worship and obey Him. If this is true of your family, your baby or toddler needs to hear it regularly. Eventually, he or she will make an independent decision about whether or not he or she wants to become a Christian. In the meantime, they need to understand that just like Joshua’s family, your family follows the Lord.

Can a baby or toddler really understand all of these basic concepts about God? We may never know for sure. What we do know is that the more a child hears about God at home, the more likely he or she is to grow up to become a Christian. It’s worth making the time from the very beginning to teach your precious little one about God.

Fun Way Your Family Can Thank Others

For many, November has become the month of Thanksgiving. As a Christian parent, it’s important to teach your children to be thankful and encourage others throughout the year.

This fun family devotional is a great way to start the conversation. It also introduces them to part of a familiar Bible story that may be new to them. You will need a Bible and the materials you will use to complete whatever project you choose to do with your children as part of the devotional.

Read Exodus 4:16-5:6 to your children, or tell them the story. Point out that Moses wasn’t particularly excited to do what God was asking him to do. He knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task. The Israelites might reject him and Pharaoh would not be at all happy to hear what God told Moses to tell him.

Yet, Moses obeyed God. Things didn’t go well at first. Pharaoh kept changing his mind and was angry a lot of the time. There were plagues on the Egyptians. Moses may have wondered at times, what was happening. But he knew the way the Egyptians were treating the Israelites was horrible – especially since the Israelites were doing all of the hard work for them.

Moses probably went through most of his life without anyone thanking him for all of the things he did to obey God and lead the people out of Egypt. In fact, he probably heard more complaints than appreciation and encouragement.

There are many people in our world today who also have jobs where they provide help to others and hear more complaints than gratitude. Have your kids name some of the people who do “thankless” jobs. They may name categories of jobs or specific people they know. You may need to help them get started or add to their list.

Look carefully over your list. Are there thirty people on it your family can thank in a meaningful way for the next month? It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but over the course of a month, your family can appreciate and encourage more than thirty people who probably really need it.

What are meaningful ways to thank someone? Saying “thank you” is a start, but meaningful gratitude is a little more. Perhaps you want to make cards or write notes explaining why your family is so grateful for what that person or group of people does. Maybe you want to make them a baked treat or give them a small gift card. Your kids might want to make them a special craft or pick a flower or some apples to give them.

It doesn’t really matter how your family makes those “thank you’s” more meaningful. Just taking the time and effort to truly thank and encourage someone can make a huge difference in their lives and give them the strength to continue helping others. It’s a great way to reflect God’s love accurately and perhaps even multiple it.

Fun Way to Teach Your Kids About Gifts

Children love presents. It’s fun to get the things you want without having to work for them. Christianity is about the tremendous gift Jesus gave us, but it’s also about us giving generously.

How can you help your children begin to understand about God’s gifts to them and how they can share those gifts with others? There is a fun family devotional you can do to help even very young children begin to understand. You will need a Bible, plain white paper, various colored papers, scissors, markers and glue sticks.

Tell your kids the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors found in Genesis 37. Point out that the coat was a very special gift Jacob gave Joseph to show him how much he loved him.

Give your kids the paper and markers. Have them draw themselves large enough to cover the sheet of paper. Give them the colored bits of paper. Have them think of gifts God has given them that they can use to help others and show God’s love to them. Encourage them to think of talents they can use to serve others as well as material things.

They can write each gift on a strip of colored paper and used the strips to create their own coat of many colors to represent the gifts God has given them. Have them share their finished artwork. If possible, encourage them to share at least one of their gifts to serve someone within a specified time period. Then review the story and what they did when the deadline is reached.

Encourage your kids to use their gifts from God to serve others and share their faith whenever they can. It’s a great habit for everyone in your family to have!

Fun Family Devotional

In Judaism, there is a holiday God established in the Old Testament. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles, the Festival of Ingathering, or more commonly today, Sukkot (Leviticus 23:34-43). The celebration included building a temporary shelter made from branches and leaves.

For seven days they lived in those shelters. God wanted the experience to remind them of everything that had happened when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The days when every Israelite lived in a temporary shelter in the wilderness. Each evening, those who celebrate are told the stories of Moses and the Israelites.

We may not be Jewish, but the way the holiday is celebrated is also a great idea for a memorable family devotional. What better way to remember lessons from the Bible than building a temporary shelter out of items from God’s creation? Look up to the night sky – point out the moon and the stars – as you tell your children important stories from the Bible.

You may choose to follow the original holiday and tell the stories of Moses. Or you may choose to tell the stories of another person in the Bible. If you do this for several nights in a row, you can cover many of the stories from the life of someone like David or even from the life of Jesus.

Fall is when Sukkot is celebrated, but you can do this type of devotional any time of the year. It’s a great way to take your kids into God’s creation in your own backyard and give them a memorable experience of hearing some of the Bible stories God wants your children to know. Who knows? It may become a family tradition!

Fun Family Devotional on Gratitude

Having a grateful heart and thanking God regularly for His many blessings can help your kids be more appreciative and generous. It doesn’t come naturally to many children – especially as they grow older. How can you encourage them to be more aware of their blessings and that they all come from God? This fun family devotional is a good starting point.

Grab a Bible, some plain paper and art supplies like markers, crayons or even paints. Before starting, you may want to draw a large heart on a sheet of paper for each of your younger children. (You can have older children draw their own hearts on their paper before doing the activity.)

Read the story of the Ten Lepers found in Luke 17:11-19. Focus especially on the gratitude of the last leper who returned to thank Jesus. Ask your kids why they think one leper came back to thank Jesus. Have them share why they think the others did not return to thank Jesus.

Remind your children that God expects us to be grateful for everything He has given us. Ask them why our gratitude or thankfulness is important to God. (You may have to ask them to think about how they would feel if they gave someone a very special present and the person opened their gift, shrugged and walked away.)

Give your kids the sheets of paper with the hearts drawn on them. Explain to them that God gives us many gifts because He loves us. Tell them you want them to illustrate as many things on their drawings as they can of things for which they should thank God. Encourage them to put personal things, as well as things everyone would have in common.

Once your kids have completed their artwork, have them share what they drew. Encourage them to add new items to their drawings if they wish. Ask your children to think of ways they can thank God for His gifts. (Make sure taking good care of them – stewardship – is mentioned as part of the discussion.) Encourage them to use their drawings this week as they pray, to help them remember to thank God for the many blessings He has given them.