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How Can We Teach Our Little Ones?

GlynLoweThe church offers very few resources or programs for children still in diapers. Parents may also be skeptical about a child’s ability to learn at that age. Most toddlers struggle to be potty trained, so how can we expect them
to grasp spiritual truths? We might be tempted to think that we should wait until little children are older before teaching them about Jesus.

Of course, if we really believed that, we wouldn’t instruct our little children about anything. But we do instruct our young ones all the time. They can learn what “No!” means. They learn when it’s time to eat, go
to bed, and get up. They’re interested in all the sights, smells, and sounds around them. They’re ready to learn. We just have to be sensitive to how they learn—what their learning strengths are and what their limitations are.

This age group learns by example and by hearing simple phrases repeated over and over again. We involve the very young in the spiritual life of the home by showing and telling.

What can we show our little children to communicate spiritual truths? First, they will follow our example. “Like father, like son”—the saying goes. If we spend time each day studying God’s Word in the presence of our children, we communicate that God’s Word is important. Saying prayers at mealtime and bedtime teaches our young children to pray regularly, even before they are able to say their own prayers. My wife and I were thrilled when our son folded his hands to pray with us at the age of 15 months.

Little children love to look at pictures. Research suggests that a high percentage of what we learn at an early age is accomplished by sight. Children’s Bible story books and animated videos draw children’s interest. Toddlers may not understand all the words of the Bible story, but they usually can identify a picture of Jesus. They are able to follow a simple story line. And they can begin to formulate simple inferences. For example, from the account of the three men in the fiery furnace, even very young children can understand that fire is hot and dangerous and that prayer is a very powerful spiritual tool.

What can we tell little children? Never underestimate the power of God’s Word. From Paul’s words to Timothy, we can conclude that very young children are among those affected: “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

We may think that our children are too young to understand, but the Holy Spirit knows how to talk to children. Reading Bible stories in simplified versions to children, no matter how young they are, is never a fruitless effort. We may not see immediate results, but we trust God’s promise. His Word will accomplish what he desires.

Music and singing also touch the hearts of young children. Our little boy loved to listen to a Kids’ Praise cassette over and over again. A little girl who attended our church’s vacation Bible school continues to sing “Jesus Is the Way” at home to her Jewish father.

By all possible means, let us show and tell our little children about our Jesus. Let us remind them daily that he loves them. We make a lasting impression on our children by presenting God’s truth to them at every opportunity. Christ is for children.

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By Joel Nitz, from Parents Crosslink © 2011 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Joel and Kathryn Nitz live with their family in Lacey, Washington.

Image by GlynLow is licensed under CC BY 2.0.