Tag Archive for toddlers

Five Ways Teens Are Like Toddlers

I’m caring for a 16-month-old a few days a week, (the sweetest little guy ever!) and I’ve been ushered back to the world of sippy cups, toys, nap times, cutting up food into small pieces, answering “what’s that” questions, exploring, and the “everything-is-new-and-wonderful” stage that the toddler years bring. “Little B” already knows the ropes around the house and has pretty much used it to lasso our hearts.


My children are mostly teens and adults (ages 12 to 21) and somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten a few basic truths that should inform everything I do in this house. Caring for Little B has reminded me of several of these things.

1. Children watch everything. They’re learning by their environment. Little B watches Holly and Hope to see their facial expressions and he responds. When they clap, he is elated. When they do their school work, he observes. When I fold my hands to thank God for the food, he folds his. It’s true of toddlers and it’s true of teens–they learn how to do life from watching you. God help us if we lead these kids astray.

2. Children want to please. Kids are easily motivated by praise. I see it so clearly with this little guy. He flashes the most adorable smile whenever we clap or say “Good boy!!” He gives me a toy because he knows I’ll give him a huge “Thank you!!” and it becomes a game to see how many times I’ll smile and say it.

Teens want to please you as well. Somewhere along the line, maybe they stopped trying because they got more negative feedback than positive or could never make their parent happy. Maybe you criticized more than praised. Maybe you used your words to injure instead of build up, causing the teen to conclude that building walls and keeping you out was safest and most peaceful route. If so, make that right and ask forgiveness. Teens are almost adults and just like all of us they want love and acceptance.

3. Children mimic. They say what you say and copy what you do. You see it more in toddlers, but it’s true of the teen years as well.

I’ve sat with mothers of teens who can’t figure out WHY on earth their teen is so sneaky, moody, rebellious, or just plain disrespectful and I honestly have to hold my tongue because it’s so obvious to me that the teen gets that behavior from one of the parents. We are often blind to our own sin, and yet we see it clearly in our kids.

Maybe the issue are different,

but if the parent lives their life as though they are above the rules

or they make exceptions or excuses–always the easy way for them– how can they complain when their kids break house rules like curfew, or sneak media, or plain disregard the instruction of the parent?

If the mom is moody (or mouthy!) saying whatever pops into her head without thought for righteousness, how can she be surprised when her child uses her mouth disrespectfully or cruelly?

A mom of a passively/outwardly rebellious child has to ask herself if she’s been joyfully submitting to the authorities in her life or if she’s taught her daughter unwittingly how to manipulate life to make it work for her.

The truth is that our kids tend to copy our own sins–the ones they grew up seeing us commit.

4. Children value what we value. When I make a big deal of going in the car, Little B catches that excitement. When my eyes light up and I ask “Do you want an ice cream?” he can’t get to the car fast enough. Our teens are the same way and learn what we value by our enthusiasm. They know when we expend energy, and know where we cut corners or make excuses. They hear it in our language about “getting to go” here or “having to go” there.

5. Children want to be loved. Toddlers come running for hugs or want to give kisses to the puppy. They snuggle when they are tired and want to sit on your lap to read a book. Closeness matters.

Teens may outgrow much of that but they still want to know that you love them more than anything else. Make sure they know it. If they doubt your love, they’ll go searching for it wherever they can get it.

The teen years are the letting go years, and independence is the goal, but one thing we should never let go of is the pursuit of our teens heart.

Do you have teens and toddlers? What similarities do you see?

What’s A Mom of Toddlers To Do?


Moms, when you are not sure how to deal with your children, when discouragement sets in and you fear that “this child is the one” that will walk away,

and you can’t seem to get through to their heart, can I offer you some advice?

All of us in one canoe. That was interesting!

Instead of giving way to fear 

remember God’s promises and pray.

In our own home, I can recall several nights that stand out in my mind with a stubborn toddler who just wouldn’t respond to correction. When bedtime came, I fell into a heap of discouragement because I felt I had failed reach my child’s heart and I was scared for her.

At that moment, all I could do is pray. Pray. In a heap of exhaustion on the floor, my head in my knees as I cried in frustration for guidance, I’d pray to God (beg, actually) for HIM to soften her little heart so that she’d be inclined love God’s ways. (By the way, He did answer! My “little rebel” is learning to walk a God-dependent life today, by His grace!)

Young, clueless, tired and with our hands full!

Some hope for moms of young ones:

1. Pray for wisdom. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for wisdom one night and the very next day God sent me an answer in the form of a book, a conversation with an older woman or my own Bible reading. God promises to give you what you need in the wisdom department if you ask!

2. Deal with the problem and then move on. Yes, you must deal with sin and “call it” as God calls it.

“Rebekah, NO, you may not sneak to get what you want. God is truth and he doesn’t want us to deceive others. ”

“Matthew, when mommy calls you to come wash your hands for dinner, and you ignore her, you are disobeying.”

“Emily, we don’t laugh at other people because God tells us to be kind. Would God laugh at another person and mock them?”

We do need to call sin what God calls it and not downplay it. A child who is allowed/trained to shrug off God’s commands when young will never deal with their own hearts. They’ll constantly blame outside circumstances. Our greatest problems are not around us, but inside us.

But once you’ve dealt with the child, clear the air. Don’t allow any residue of negativity to remain. It is easy to get frustrated with childish behavior, but you’ll drive your child away if you hold a parental grudge, give them the feeling that they are “always” a problem, or if you allow the atmosphere of the home to be strained and the child senses that you have smoldering resentment for them. Love doesn’t hold grudges.

So little! :)

3. Train in the positive more than in the negative. Nobody wants to hear “NO,NO,NO” all day. If this is the extent of your “child training,” your kids will eventually block you out and stop listening. MOST of you training should be instruction during everyday talk.

“Isn’t it great to be able to go visit Mrs. Hart in the nursing home kids? God says that when we care for our widows, it is like caring for Him!”

“Kids, when that man cut me off in the car this morning, my heart wanted to say something bad to him, but God’s word says no to repaying evil for evil. That’s really hard, isn’t it?”

“I know you want the front seat again, but remember what God says about treating others the way you want to be treated? What do you think you should do?”

“Kids, you need to chose before hand how you are going to respond when so-and-so is unkind to you again. You have two choices here: pleasing God or pleasing self.”

4.  Don’t discipline your child over childish behavior. If it’s not intentional, why treat it as if it was? Spilling a drink, running and knocking over another child, coloring on top of moms bedspread and the ink runs through, breaking one of moms expensive antique flow blue pitchers whilst throwing a ball in the house (that was Peter! ;)) tipping things over…these are all things kids do. They’re immature kids. You can train them and tell them not to do it, but don’t punish them for it. Punishments should only be given when a wrong choice has been made.

5. Be consistent. It’s confusing when one day mommy says no running in the house, and the next day is totally fine with it.

If a child is punished one day for one thing, but not the next day, a child does not know what the boundaries are and that is just not fair to the child! A child want to know where they stand and what their boundaries are. There is security in that.  If you say no, mean it–today, tomorrow and next week, or don’t say it at all!  

6. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated. Don’t confront or correct a child when you are angry, frustrated or irritable. Honestly, that is just cruelty. If you are going to give your four year old a verbal tongue lashing, then YOUR sin is much bigger than theirs. They don’t know any better; an adult does know better. Correction/disciple, although sometimes necessary, should never be done when you are angry.

7. Remember that this is just a stage. Life with toddlers is so hard. It gets easier, I promise. My life now with teens is a breeeeze compared to life with toddlers. Do the hard work when they are young and they’ll be a blessing to you when they are older.

8. Remember that every circumstance, even parenting, is meant to point us to God. Our parenting is ordained and we are stewards of these kids. That means that the child training is not about us. We don’t do what is easiest for us or what we feel like doing. We answer to God for the care of His children.

9. Never bribe a child. 

“If you stop screaming, I will give you a cookie.”

Don’t make them do the right things for the wrong reasons. Don’t aim for just good behavior. That is such a superficial goal. The heart is the goal. (not to mention that you’re teaching them to manipulate people.)

10. Make a study of your child. Every child is different, so your approach will be different, but that doesn’t mean that standards are different for that child.

Each child should be taught to know and follow the rules of the home. You may need to figure out how to help each child differently, but house rules and especially God’s rules are non-negotiable.

So, making excused for your child’s sin because of their temperament is not doing anyone any favors. “Oh, they just say whatever comes into their mind.” “He has a short fuse and blows up like that. That is just him.” Well, it may be just the way they are, but God had given us the ability to have victory over our sinful impulses.

Your child MAY struggle for the rest of their life with their tongue, or self control, or anger, and that is okay, as long as they are actually fighting it. Those works of the flesh have to go, and we are taught to fight against our flesh, bring it into subjection.

God does not expect perfection, but he does want obedience. When we sin, we have an advocate. We can confess it and move on and try again. This is grace– God enabling us to live as he commands!

Be faithful to do your job. Train them up in the way they should go. But remember that only God can change a heart. Why not ask him to intervene?

Your turn. What have you learned along the way? Share with us by leaving a comment!