Wednesday, October 17, 2012

day 17 :: when toddlers aren't interested

This is Day 17 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post

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So towards the beginning of this series, when I was sharing about how this whole thing starts with us, I received a comment from a discouraged Ally who basically said, "that's so great that your son is so receptive to spiritual things, but my 3 yr old daughter doesn't seem interested during Bible time and often doesn't want to pray."

So I want to talk about this today... When our young kids aren't interested! Sure, we can be all gung ho about teaching them the Bible and praying with them, but if they are uninterested (or resistant, even!), we panic!
What do we do!?

When I received this comment, I knew I needed to address this issue, but I was stumped! Yes, my son is very spiritually receptive (and I'm so blessed!), but I know this is a real issue for many parents, and who knows, I may one day have to deal with this in Norah's life! I remember a friend of mine from MOPS shared last year that her 3 year old son was very resistant to spiritual things, particularly to praying before bed at night. She was worried and discouraged, and didn't know what to do. So she asked our group for prayer, and one of our Mom Mentors (a grandmother) encouraged her not to push spiritual things or force him to pray if he didn't want to for a little while.

Well, I never heard how it turned out, so I gave Michelle a call to find out what happened and to see if she had any insight to give me that I can share with you all. I was so excited about what she told me. So Michelle listened to the advice and didn't push it anymore. She continued to pray with him at night, but instead of forcing him to pray, she would just pray. She said she even got him involved by asking, "What should Mom pray for?" and he seemed okay with that. After a few months, she was having spiritual conversations with him and one night they were talking about how Jesus washes us clean of our sins. Little Simon said he wanted to ask Jesus to wash his sins away! And that's what he did that night! Praise the Lord! After that, Michelle said she noticed a difference in him! He was more interested in spiritual things and was praying again! She told me she was talking to a friend later who had had a very similar experience with her child!

I came away with so many things from our conversation. Here are a few...

First of all, our toddlers are so young! We need not worry too much or expect too much of them- just be faithful to make the most of the moments, and be spiritually intentional in their lives. Let God work his Will in His time!

Second, if they are uninterested or resistant, PRAY for them! Pray for an open heart, pray for God to work in their little lives and pray for God's timing! Perhaps it means giving it a little break and not forcing them to participate in spiritual things for a while!

Third, find ways to incorporate prayer or the Bible into their life that they will accept! Be creative- use interactive play, sing scripture, or change-up the bedtime routine.

Last, there could very well be a spiritual battle going on their little life! My friend Michelle believed that's what was going on in her son's life, and in her friend's child. This may sound a little scary, but it should also be encouraging because God may be at work in your child's life, even if they seem resistant! Trust God and PRAY like crazy for their souls! Follow the Lord's leading in taking opportunities to have spiritual conversations, because you may never know when that moment will be that they are ready to accept Christ personally into their life!

Well I hope this is helpful for any parents who are struggling with this issue! I can't imagine how frustrating and discouraging this must be, but I know that we have a God who is Good and will work his will in his time! I think all this can be summed up in these two ways: Trust God & Pray!!!
Thanks Ally for raising this issue! I hope this helps!

Do you have any other insights for parents in this situation? 
Please share them in the comments below!


  1. I was reading yesterday how parenting is all about sowing. Sometimes we hold on too tightly to their hearts for a response, when we should be trusting the Lord to reap the harvest in His time.

  2. Excellent points, Mary Beth! We've been trying to teach our girls that when they disobey they're really offending God, and need to apologize to Him (confess) not just to a person. It's so hard to not force them to do this, but I want them to see their need for Christ and desire to follow Him rather than forcing it upon them. Their little hearts are in the Lord's hands; we just need to be faithful parents. Thanks for your posts, I'm loving them!!


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