It always amazes me how many people criticize young children when they see pictures of them worshiping God with their whole hearts. “It’s not real! They don’t know what they are doing. Make them stop! They are just imitating the adults around them,” they argue.
Are they right?
Let’s see what the experts say:
By copying adults during the first crucial year of growth, 1-year-olds learn a vast array of skills. “Imitation is vital to the development of abilities ranging from language to social skills,” explains Lisa Nalven, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the Valley Center for Child Development, in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
“A 1-year-old understands that the actions he’s copying have significance,” says Howard Klein, M.D., director of behavioral pediatrics at Sinai Hospital, in Baltimore.
Children at two years old onwards are natural imitators. They are eager to imitate their parents’ actions and want to be like them. It is important for toddlers and children to imitate because that is how they learn feed themselves, walk and communicate.
Children at this age are usually easier to teach because they are at the learning age, the child learns a great deal by watching and helping adults with great seriousness.
How do Children Imitate?
Most children love to pretend play at home. They are constantly observing their parents or other adults family members at home. Without realizing it, they build the child’s personality, character, self-confidence and their abilities to manage various responsibilities.
Therefore, parents are force to set good examples by becoming more mature, watching their language and avoid showing their unhealthy behavior. When adults perform good behavior and attitude, it leaves a strong impression on the child’s mind. Of course, he will follow suit when opportunity arises.
Understanding the Fact
Children at this age become more aware of the fact that they will grow up to be a woman or man, so they will attempt to follow their parents‘ footsteps. It is a common scene for children to copy parents’ dressing style, learn to express various ways of human emotions such as love, fear, anger, grief and happiness.
What Did Jesus Say About It?
Jesus actually praised the fact that children imitated their parents. Think about the story where he rode the donkey colt through the streets of Jerusalem, then went into the Temple. The children followed him in waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David!”
It made the Chief priests and scribes angry to hear the children! They scolded Jesus saying, “Don’t you hear what they are saying?” In other words, “Make them stop it, Jesus!”
Have you ever thought about that before? “Hosanna to the son of David” is not typical kid language. Where did they get that lingo from? If you will read just a few verses previous, you will see that it was the adults who were following Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem shouting exactly the same thing, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Imitation Praise is Perfect!
What was happening here? THE CHILDREN WERE IMITATING THEIR PARENTS AND THE OTHER ADULTS WHEN THEY HAD BEEN PRAISING JESUS!!! But the most interesting part was Jesus called their praise PERFECT! He said, “Have you never read ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You [God] have perfected praise’?”
Jesus was well aware that the children were imitating the praises their parents had given, but he called that imitation praise PERFECT. So the next time you hear someone mocking small children as they imitate adults worshiping God, you will know what to say! IMITATION PRAISE IS PERFECT IN GOD’S EYES!
For more teaching on babies and preschoolers by Becky Fischer, check out:
PRESCHOOLERS & GOD — https://kidsinministry.org/resources/more-stuff/preschoolers-and-god-sscm-22/
LITTLE LAMBS BIBLE CLASS CURRICULUM — https://kidsinministry.org/resources/more-stuff/little-lambs-bible-class-curriculum/