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Train Up a Child — Part II

By Rikki Beth Poindexter

I feel like in the day in which we live that many Christian mothers want obedient, pleasant children. However, most are not willing to do what it takes to have them — hard work and consistency. Being a mother is work! Many people want to be debt-free, but do not want to put in the work required to become debt-free. Many people want to be healthy and in shape, but they do not want to put the work into becoming healthy and in shape. Many want to understand more about the Bible, but they do not work at studying His Word. Many want to play an instrument, but they are not willing to put in practice. Obedient, pleasant children are possible, but child training takes a lot of consistent work!

Stop! If you have not read Train Up a Child Part I, then take the time to do so now. This blog is a continuation of lessons taught in that blog.

Child Training — Particularly with Toddlers Continued:

  • Do not baby-proof your house. We decided before our kids were born into the Poindexter home that we were not going to move breakable items solely because we had toddlers in the house. We decided this because we were going to teach our children what the word "no" meant. We did not want to go out in public or to someone’s home and have them rearrange their house for our kids. How annoying and embarrassing!

  • Do not let stubbornness get to you. Yes, I had one child that was quite stubborn. This child almost wore me down. However, we were consistent with that child and the particular item that had a draw on them. It was tiresome, and I felt like during that season all I did was spank them. Do not allow the toddler to wear you down… Be consistent, and then, you can enjoy the fruit of that consistency — an obedient and pleasant toddler.

  • Train them at home. When our children were small, I read in a book that if you train correctly at home, you should not have to discipline in public. I remind you that your "no" must mean “no” every time for this to be true. If bad behavior at home warrants a spanking one time, it must warrant a spanking EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. So we need to be wise about when and for what behavior we will spank.

  • Let’s talk about whining. No one enjoys a whiny toddler or child. They are normally whiny because they are allowed to be whiny. Do not just give them what they want or what we think they want.

We can reinforce no whining by doing this: a non-verbal child is whining, and we THINK they are whining because they want something. Instead of giving it to them, ask them, "Do you want your cup?" When they respond with a nod or smile, reiterate the word, "please” or “cup.” We are reinforcing those words to help decrease the whining and teach them to verbally communicate with words, not whines. Use words like "stop whining." This is where the word "no" will help. When they are verbal, there is no excuse for whining, except that we have allowed it!

Teaching Biblical Things to Little Ones

  • I encourage you to have a short devotion time with your toddlers. There are way more resources for this now than when my kids were little. Make time each day to read to them from an age-appropriate resource and begin to teach Scripture when they can talk. You will never regret teaching them Scripture, and you will be surprised by how quickly they can memorize it. Make that a part of your day. It will not be a long time — maybe 5 minutes or so.

  • Teach them to pray during this time. Tell them to shut their eyes, bow their head, get on their knees, etc. (**Mom, this does not count for your personal time with the Lord.**) You are teaching them and establishing lifelong discipline. II Timothy 3:15 says, “ And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

  • We must be consistent in Biblical things. What our kids (even toddlers) see at home, should be what they see at church. We are the best example for our family. We train by our behavior.

Church Life

Sigh… This one is near and dear to my heart… I am a huge proponent of babies, from the womb, being in service. Again, I will echo one of my favorite verses: II Timothy 3:15, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

  • Get them a Bible to take to church! They should see us bring our Bibles to church and open it — no matter how little we can look and follow along. We must be an example for our little ones.

  • We had no church nursery. We did not even have one to use. We trained our children to sit in church.

(My husband announced his call to preach when our first son was 1 year old. I was already pregnant with baby number 2. When my husband planted the church, he still pastors today almost 17 years ago, we had a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, anda-month-old. We added another child that same year and another 17 months after that! I have always sat by myself with my children in church. I used a helper for our youngest while I played the piano in the early days of our church. My others sat on the pew together by themselves while I played the piano. I know from experience that you can train a very young child to sit through preaching.

  • You have to want to. I needed and wanted to be in the services and to hear preaching.

  • Practice at home. They can practice sitting during the preaching if you are going to take the route of keeping your kid in the sanctuary. Training them to sit in church service is tiresome. It is another avenue that needs…you guessed it — consistency.

  • Do not give up! The fruit is so sweet.

  • Babies can be trained too. Training them to entertain themselves at home will greatly help them with sitting in church. Practice this at home as well. Teach them to be quiet and "Shhh.” Have a small block of quiet time.

One of my fondest memories, as we prepare for our first child to get married, is all of my babies sitting with me on the church pew while their daddy preached. No, do not keep them in the service if they are being disruptive. Because our church is very accustomed to kids in the sanctuary, we can handle a little noise — a little crying, jabbering, or growling from a toddler. If it is important to you to keep your kid in the sanctuary, you will find ways to stay in there. Keep in mind, this season is short.

(If your church keeps a nursery and you choose to use it, go for it! Do what works for your family. Just remember that the day will come when they outgrow the nursery. Will they be ready to sit in the sanctuary with you? Practice makes perfect.)


  • Be wise. Be careful leaving young kids with people who do not hold the same personal standards and Biblical beliefs as you and your family. These are our kids. We are responsible for them. No one else holds that responsibility. They are so impressionable when they are young. Be very careful of who has influence over your kids. Beware of starting something you think you may have to stop when your children get older and have better understanding. We are better off to not start at all.

  • Discipline standards are so important. This includes those who do not hold to the same discipline standards as you, the parent, hold to. Especially when your children are young and impressionable. This is vital. I personally believe we would be better off not leaving them than to leave them with anyone (grandparents included) who will not have boundaries or keep the ones we set in place for our family. It is not worth the trouble that comes from time with people who have no rules or will not execute our wishes.

Some Verses to Study Surrounding Child Training

  • Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

These next verses are promises!!

  • Proverbs 23:13, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

  • Proverbs 23:14, “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”

  • Proverbs 29:17, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

These are a few things the Lord helped me with as a mother to younger children, and He used aged women in my life to instruct me. Titus 2:3, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;…”


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