Understanding Respect-Preschoolers (Ages 2-3)

My son, who just turned two a couple of months ago, was walking with my wife, Rosalind, and I through the house.  As I turned on a light after entering the room my son pointed toward and ceiling and said, “God.”  To which my wife very quickly responded with, “That’s right.  God made the light.”  This was a great opportunity for us to share a biblical truth with our son in an everyday moment.  Now whenever the lights come on he points at the ceiling and says, “God,” which signifies an understanding that God made the light.

The preschool years are a great time to build the foundations of your child’s faith.  These are the perfect years for forming your child’s basic understanding about God, Jesus, and the Bible.  This is the time in their life that they believe everything they’re told about God.  They do this because they trust you implicitly and they have complete faith in everything you say. 

At this point in the child’s life you have to think about the things they cannot do.  They cannot read.  They cannot study.  They cannot drive themselves to church.  Their ability to learn is completely dependent upon their parents or other adults who are close to them.  Because of these limits we’re the ones who choose what to teach them and how to do it.  Children have no other access to the Bible except through the adults in their lives.

Think about this statement:  All parents are teaching their children something about God.  They are either teaching that He is someone who can be ignored or someone they can mock or someone they can curse at or someone they can worship.

As we look at the life of Joseph we can see that he came to the understanding that God was to be respected for His awesomeness and authority. 

So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

(Gen 39:6-9)

Without a proper respect for God and His standards, a child cannot come to the point of salvation or make wise choices in life.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psa 111:10)

The word “fear” that the psalmist used is not referring to a cowardly terror, but an understanding of the awesomeness of God which results in a responsive, humble obedience.  As a result of our respect of God, we want to do what He desires for us to do.

Here are a few points that we should teach our preschooler about how and why we respect God: 

  • God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1).  He made the light.  He created the flowers.  He made the mountains.  He made the stars.
  • God knows all (Psalm 147:5).  Many children like to know.  Kids will not hesistate to tell you how much they know.  “I know how old I am!” or “I know how to spell my name.  Do you want to hear?”  Because children are fascinated with the things they know and the things they do not know, they can very easily understand the concept that God knows everything.
  • God is everywhere (Psalm 139 7—10).  Many kids know that they can only be in one place.  If they are where they are they cannot be anywhere else but where they are.  Understanding that God is everywhere all the time is comforting to a child because they know that He is always with them where ever they are.
  • God is different from us (Psalm 90:2).  Our understanding and knowledge of God comes from the Word that He has given us.  Teaching children that God is different from us can help with the difficult questions of “Where did God come from?” and “How old is God?”
  • God is holy (Psalm 77:13).  A child understands the concept of right and wrong.  Because of this we can explain to them that God is Holy and that means he is set apart, perfect, and pure.  Because God is Holy He can set the standard for what is right and what is wrong.
  • God is love (John 3:16).  God loves us.

 There is a long list that explains the qualities of God and that list well surpasses the list I have.  The important thing to remember is that teaching your children a respect for the awesomeness of God is an everyday process.  It is imperative that we understand that our teaching is not just limited to what we say, but also through our actions.  Are we respecting God’s awesomeness and responding in obedience?  Or do our children see us treating God and the work that He has called us to as something “we have to do” before we can get to the “fun” things in life?

Here are some characteristics of a Preschooler that can be used to turn everyday moments into teachable moments about God:

  • They are eager to learn.
  • They love questions.
  • They watch and observe everything.
  • They enjoy repetition
  • They have fears.
  • They want approval from adults.
  • They get confused about real and make-believe.
  • They love to be silly.
  • They understand right and wrong.
  • They look to be forgiven.

Look for moments in the day to share with your children the qualities of God that is so important for them to learn in the early years of their life.

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