Building good habits at a young age is one of the most important things we can do with our children. They need this foundation of healthy social, emotional and personal habits that they will build upon as they grow. Godly character and strong faith are also foundational principles for a thriving life.
As we navigate the waters of parenting how do make our faith in Christ as commonplace and pushing in chairs at the table and brushing teeth? For starters, we need to model a life of faith. Simply telling our children isn't enough. Faith needs to be woven into the fabric of their physical, emotional and spiritual lives.
There are nine core habits we can do on a regular basis that help make faith commonplace for our kids.
- Teachable Moments
- Quiet Time
Let's explore these in a bit more depth.
Daily prayer is faith in action and a should be commonplace in the Christian home. If you're not comfortable praying out loud I encourage you to take a step of faith and start today. Your prayers don't need to be long and flowy. They need to be sincere and from the heart. Have you ever heard a child pray? Wyatt recently prayed for the victims of a car accident that happened just down the street:
“Dear Lord, please be with them and make their boo-boos better and help them not be scared. In Jesus' name, Amen.”
Short, simple and from the heart. I didn't prompt him or even encourage him to pray, he just did it because it is common for us to pray for people.
Praying for your children is important and so is praying with your children.
What do we pray for? Well, we pray for family and friends, for tragic events we hear about. We pray and speak healing for boo-boos and we pray when our emotions have gotten the best of us. We even pray for lost stuffies and misplaced keys. You can read more about prayable moments here.
Worship through Music
Studies show the benefits of playing music in the home and playing worship music is not only beneficial emotionally, but spiritually as well. We were designed as musical instruments by our Creator. We had strings (vocal cords), pipes (lungs) and percussion instruments (hands) within us that can be used to glorify and worship the Lord.
Worship through Dancing
Teaching our children that dancing is a normal part of worship is important. Our faith and love in Christ and our complete awe of our God can be expressed through dancing before the Lord.
We love to dance and sing on a daily basis to wonderful Christian music. Playing music in the home is so beneficial.
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! ~ Psalm 149:3
Worship through the Word
There are so many reasons to memorize scripture. When I think of those who has suffered unimaginably for their Christian faith, what got them through? God's word hidden on their hearts. Reading God's word and memorizing scripture is not a duty. It should not be thought of as a requirement. It is another way for our children to experience and understand their Heavenly Father. It's another way to build a relationship with God.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. ~ Psalm 119:9
Doing life together provides many teachable moments. From the questions about the observed behavior of others to the beauty of nature to understanding what godly character looks like, there are moments almost every hour where we can point our children to see things from a biblical perspective. Even toddlers and preschoolers can learn to think through things (age appropriately) from a biblical point of view.
I find it helpful to point out good and bad. Sometimes we go so focused on the negative things we forget to draw attention when we see godly character being exhibited in our children or in others. You are going to create a little narcissist by affirming a display of godly behavior. After all, godly behavior is not by our strength but by He who lives in us.
I like to have my quiet time alone. I was reminded some time ago, though, that Wyatt needs to see quiet time in action. I was failing to model this behavior simply because it was done before he woke up. Now, a few days a week when I can, I wait until he is up to have quiet time. He's actually asked me a few times to wait for him. What a precious memory we both have of sharing quiet moments together in the early morning hours. No, he's not reading chapters and verses but he is praying and building a habit of daily time with God that will last a lifetime.
A few days ago Wyatt wanted to paint and draw. So I set up his paper and supplies on his desk and let him do his thing. Fifteen minutes and several chorus' of Awesome God later, his creation was done. I thought it was the sun or a planet or who knows what but to my surprise he said, “No Mom. This is Jesus, this is the stone and this (making a big circular motion) is the toooomb.” We'd only been over the Easter story twice so far and they reviewed it earlier that week at Cubbies.
Never underestimate the power of a few art supplies and a child's recollection of something they've heard.
While reading God's word is of utmost importance other books that line up with scripture and bring to life biblical principles and display godly character are another core feature in a faith-based home. There are so many great books and series you aren't limited. Some geat ones include The Berenstain Bears, The Little House series, and Veggie Tales. I really like the God Gave Us Books books by Lisa Tawn Bergen.
Writing, in general, is a key component of education. What better way to learn to write than to learn it alongside scripture. And writing out scriptures or stories about scripture helps children put into practice creativity, imagination and language use. Wyatt can't yet write words but he mimics me by “writing” grocery lists, to-do lists and we have an attitude box for giving our bad attitudes to God.
I want to tell you about a great new resource that combines writing, scripture, art and prayer together in a fantastic curriculum for your preschool or kindergartner.
Write Through The Bible Junior by Trisha Gilkerson is a walk through Philippians 2:1-18 for young children. Over 31 4-day weeks, you'll find a simple but powerful lesson featuring a different letter and portion of Philippians 2: 1-18. There are a few review weeks as well. Activities included in the book are puzzles, tracing practice, matching and cut and paste just to name a few.
You can find Write Through the Bible Junior online at Intoxicated on Life's website in digital form or you get the print version here. I have the print version and I recommend it! It really hits home what a great resource this is when you fan through over 420 pages.
- Ball and Stick, KJV
- Ball and Stick, ESV
- D'Nealian Manuscript, KJV
- D'Nealian Manuscript, ESV
- Cursive, KJV
- Cursive, ESV
In celebration of the release of Write Though The Bible Junior if you purchase the digital or print version you will receive $49 worth of additional material free between now and March 27, 2015.
If your children are older check all of the Walk Through The Bible curriculum options for one that fits your child's needs.