Discipling Toddlers

There are TONS of resources on the internet offering help with toddler discipline.  But what about discipling your toddler?  Note the word difference.  One is about discipline.  The other is about discipleship (no “n” in there).  A disciple is a follower.  In the context of the Christian faith, how can we as parents help to train up our children to be followers of Jesus Christ?

I am not an expert.  I am a fellow traveler on this journey of raising up a child in a Christian home.  Here are some observations I have made as our daughter approaches her 2nd birthday.

1. I was scared to death before Kezzie was born.  I thought I was going to miserably fail as a Dad in raising her up and teaching her about Jesus, the Bible, our family faith.  What if she doesn’t want anything to do with it?  What if she grows up thinking I’m an old fashioned religious nut?

2. Now that she’s been around for 2 years, I’ve realized that things are not as scary as I thought they would be.  In fact, raising Kezzie and teaching her anything is more simple than I thought.

3. Kezzie imitates everything we do.  When we bow our heads to pray, she does the same thing.  When she sees us reading our Bibles, she wants her own Bible so she can read it.  When we sing, dance, celebrate, hug, kiss, anything – she follows suit and does whatever we do.

4. I have learned by observation never to underestimate the capacity of toddlers.  They are more intuitive and intelligent than we think.  Knowing that, I want to instill in her the importance of faith, prayer, and a relationship with God as early as possible.

5. Finally, keep it simple.  I think it is much easier to simply love God with all my heart and that in turn will spread God’s love to my family as well.  And prayer and Scripture are the main tools for discipleship in the home.  If I love God, love my family, pray with them, read the Bible with them, worship together with them, then I believe good things will come of that.

Prov. 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 


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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

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