Sunday, October 14, 2012

Training Toddlers Biblically

Recipe for heart change: Scripture + prayer + the Holy Spirit + consistency= a change in heart and a more sensitive conscience towards God.  We are training their conscience to be biblical. In order to do this we must use scripture and ask for help from God daily.

Specifically for 0-2 years old:
Babies are smart. As soon as they are about 1 years old (and some even before 1), they begin to learn the meaning of words. Even if they can't say the words, they can learn what words, and even big words, mean.
Some good biblical words and phrases to tech and use with young toddlers (even before they seem ready):

Good/bad (or sinful) reaction
Happy heart
Obedience / disobedience
Gentle/ Gentleness
Whining/ complaining (I use these interchangeably so they understand Philippians 2:14)

I chose some verses for my toddlers with basic easy phrases with which I can use everyday that are the exact words of scripture, and I chose the versions of translation with the easiest language for kids :

(ESV) Titus 2:5/6 Be Self-controlled (Titus 2:5 addressing young woman, 2:6 addressing young men)
(NASB) Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle...
(NIV) Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another... ( When one sibling is having difficulty having patience with another sibling, I often say, "Sara, please bear with Katie." I use this biblical term which the children have learned means patience.)
(ESV) Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.

I have Katie repeat (or I say to her) Titus 2:5 over and over during a temper tantrum and a lot of times it really helps her to calm down. We try to always accompany these verses with prayer. God's Word, and the Holy Spirit have so much power when we use them together repetitively and daily in our lives and with our kids:
We should sound like a broken record with scripture verses as we train our children.

An easy way to remember these 4 verse references (which help in many situations): 
T= Teach (Titus 2:5 and 6)
M= My (Matthew 5:5)
C= Children  (Colossians 3:13)
C= Christ  (Colossians 3:20)

Additional verses I use constantly:
(NKJV) Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing 
(ESV) John 13:34 one another
(ESV) Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.
(ESV) Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always
(ESV) Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers

During Anger moments, I also sometimes use this too. 
Putt off/ Put on:
(ESV) Colossians 3:8- Put…away… anger (some versions say put off or put aside)
(ESV) Colossians 3:12- Put on… kindness

Since we can't do anything without the Lord, these verses are key too:
(ESV) Matthew 19:26 …"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
(NKJV) Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Some phrases I use starting at 1 year old (younger kids get shorter phrases or just words… older kids get longer phrases/conversations):

Katie, is your heart happy or angry? An angry heart does not honor God. Lets pray and ask God to help you change your heart.
Katie, you are having an angry heart. What is Colossians 3:8. What is Colossians 3:12. Lets pray that God will help you put on kindness.
Katie, you are having an angry heart, Say Titus 2:5 with Mommy: "Be self controlled" (say it several times) Lets pray that God will help you be self-controlled. 
Katie, thank you for calming down, God loves it when we put away anger. Your gentle and calm heart is so pleasing to God.
Katie, was that a good reaction or a bad reaction? Was your heart being sinful or obedient to God?
I know your sister hit you, but what was your reaction? Was that pleasing to the Lord?
Katie, are you obeying or disobeying. What does God want you to do, obey or disobey?
Katie, you are having a sinful reaction. You are disobeying mommy when you have a sinful reaction. 
Katie, I really loved your obedient response to mommy. Thank you for honoring God with your response. 
Katie, that was not honoring to Mommy. Can you try that again? / Can you say that again in a way that honors mommy?
Katie, are you obeying right away, all the way, with a happy heart? 
Katie, you are not obeying with a heart that pleases God, so you are not obeying. Mommy has to discipline you when you do not obey.
Katie, you did not put your shoes on right away. Mommy has to discipline you for disobedience. 
Katie, you came to the table right away when mommy asked you to. Do you know that your obedience really pleases the Lord? It makes God and Mommy so happy!!
Katie, when you took that toy, was that selfish or selfless?
Katie I saw you sharing, that means you were being selfless!
Katie, thank you for being patient! Having patients honors the Lord!
Katie, when you are not being patient, you are being angry. What does God want us to do with our anger? (put it away)
Katie, God tells us in the Bible to be gentle with others. Are you being gentle or harsh?
Katie, that was a harsh response to your brother when he messed up your tower. Please try your response again in a way that is gentle. If you are having a hard time with your brother, please come ask mommy for help with him. (Have your child say "May I have help with _____." Instead of tattling.)
Look at what a good attitude Katie is having! Look at how Katie's happy heart is honoring mommy while she cleans her toys, lets encourage Katie!! (Praise the good behavior to others in the family)
Katie, you are having a sinful reaction to bedtime. (Sometime when it is not bedtime, practice the correct reaction to the announcement of "Bedtime!")
Katie, when she took that toy did you have a loving response or an angry response? (a little bit older: What kind of response did you have?)
Katie, when you spit your food out and are crying over the peas you have to eat, you are disobeying and you are not being thankful to God for this food He has given us. 
Katie, you did not obey mommy, so I have to discipline you. 
I do not want to discipline you, but God tells me that if I love you, I must discipline you and I love you so much.
Demonstrating it in your own life is key. Beware of being a hypocrite. If you are going to use God and scripture to train your kids, put it to use in your life first.
I say these things on a regular basis:
Mommy is having a bad attitude. Mommy needs to remember what the Bible says about a bad attitude, and ask God for help. Will you pray with me that God will help mommy have a heart that pleases God? Do you remember a verse that could help Mommy right now?
Mommy was harsh to you (or Daddy :) Will you forgive me? Lets pray that Mommy can "Put on kindness". 
Mommy's heart is angry. Will you forgive Mommy's sinful heart? Mommy needs God to help, lets pray and ask God for help. 
My 4 year old notices I am beginning to lose my patients and says "Mommy, blessed are the gentle." I could ignore her, which is what I want to do in the moment… or I could say "You are right sweetie. God wants mommy to be gentle right now. Will you forgive me for being harsh? That was sinful. Lets pray that God will help mommy's heart to change and to be gentle." 

God bless you mommies!!! Be encouraged that as you practice and practice and don't give up, it gets easier and you see yourself and your children changing, growing in patience, and being sanctified with hearts that more clearly reflect the love of Christ!!! All glory to God alone!!! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sister Cuddles

I caught these two cuddling at breakfast and was fortunate to be able to snap some pictures before they saw the camera.  Lord, may they love each other deeply as they love and serve You for their entire lives!!