Here are some ideas for each page of the book:
1. God loves me. I love God. But sometimes I make God sad.
- It’s important for children to be frequently reminded of the wonderful truth that God loves them.
- There is a book in this series called God loves me.
- Without naming the word ‘sin’ here, we’re introducing the fact that “sometimes I make God sad”. This is true for everyone—help your child realise that we all make God sad (not just them).
- How do we make God sad? By sinning. But we’re not saying the word ‘sin’ in this book. We’re describing it in practical examples young children can relate to. As written in the parent’s notes at the beginning of Sorry God: “The aim of this book is partly to help children recognise sin. You can then help your child to see that these things are called ‘sin’.”
2. Sometimes I’m not kind. I’m sorry God.
- Many ‘sins’ can come under the label of ‘unkind’.
- Over time children will learn what being unkind means.
- Remember that little ones are at the centre of their world so they often think of themselves first. It takes time and patience on your part to help very little ones learn what is unkind and what is kind. And even when they know the difference, they will continue to do unkind things (hopefully less often!). None of us is perfect.
- You can talk with your child about what things are unkind. Or you might give personal examples (e.g. “When you/your brother did… it wasn’t kind, was it?”).
- The appropriate response to being unkind is to say sorry to the victim. But here we’re also introducing the importance of saying sorry to God. This is in essence ‘confessing’ sin.
- Remember that during a day if you have more than one child, or if your child is playing with other children, you won’t witness, or know about, every occasion when your child is not kind. It’s appropriate at the end of the day to pray to God, saying a general sorry to God.
- Here we have a model for confession that a little child can remember. Just a simple sentence like “I’m sorry God.” which might become “I wasn’t kind. I’m sorry God” which might then become “Sorry God for when I wasn’t kind today” and perhaps adding “…at the park” or “…to Jimmy”, etc.
3. Please help me be kind.
- It’s appropriate to ask for God’s help to change behaviour. We need God’s help to live how he wants us to. We are dependent on him. And he wants to help us! He wants us to talk to him, asking for his help.
- Talk with your child about what it means to be kind.
- Make the statement on this page relevant to your child by giving examples of kind behaviour. Maybe even mention something that they did that was kind, thus also encouraging them (Try to notice and comment kind behaviour and not just unkind).
- In all of this, we need to remember that being kind is not something that we can just do in our own strength. We need God’s help.
4. Sometimes I don’t share. I’m sorry God.
- Very little ones (and bigger ones!) can have problems sharing. Remember that for very little ones their world revolves around them. And they will often be quite possessive of their toys. Remember that in their world, their toys are their toys.
- They need to learn that life isn’t all about getting what they want (and keeping what they want). But also remember that it’s a lesson that many adults are learning too.
- It is appropriate for a young child to realise that deliberately not sharing is something that we need to say sorry to God for. Obviously we won’t be able to stop and pray everytime it happens. But it’s appropriate to say a general sorry to God at the end of a day.
5. Please help me share.
- Little ones need God’s help as they learn to share. Allowing other children to play with a toy that they are attached to, is something that may be a very difficult thing to do.
- Model sharing and also help your child understand sharing. Don’t assume little ones will know how to share. Encourage your little one when you see them share.
6. Sometimes I disobey. I’m sorry God.
- Really little ones won’t automatically understand what it means to disobey. They may well be very good at it, but not realise that it’s called ‘disobeying’.
- So learning this concept is something that happens over time as they grow.
- You might say to a little one something like… “You didn’t do what I told you to do. You disobeyed me.” or “What did Dad tell you to do? He told you to … But you didn’t do it. You disobeyed.” In this way they are first hearing an explanation with simple words and then you are stating that it means that they ‘disobeyed’.
- The appropriate response to disobedience is to say ‘sorry’ to the one you have disobeyed.
- Disobedience is at the heart of sin—namely, disobeying God. When your child is old enough to understand, you can talk to them about what it means to disobey God. They need to have an understanding of the word first. So it’s helpful to use the word ‘disobey’ in conjunction with not doing what you are told to do. In the Bible God ‘tells’ us how he wants us to live. When we don’t live how he wants us to, when we ‘disobey’ him, we need to say ‘sorry’ to God. So it’s important for a child to realise that they do disobey God, that they don’t always do what God wants, that they don’t always obey him. It’s when we realise that we do disobey God and we aren’t capable of always obeying him, that we realise our need of his salvation in Jesus. We can’t save ourselves through good works. We are sinful. We need Jesus and what he has done for us.
7. Please help me listen and obey.
- Why ask for God’s help to listen? Little ones only learn what they need to obey by first listening.
- Give instructions that your child is capable of understanding, listening to, doing and so obeying.
- What does it mean to ‘obey’? To do what your are told to do. To not disobey. We all need God’s help to obey.
8. Sometimes I’m grumpy. I’m sorry God.
- I define ‘grumpy’ as being in a bad mood. Perhaps a tantrum. Perhaps grumpiness stemming from not getting their own way. Perhaps grumpy because they have done the wrong thing and are not happy about being disciplined.
- It may be that in your part of the world there is a more frequently used word to describe this. Or there may be a special word in your family to refer to grumpy times, especially tantrums. If so, when reading this page you can add the word that your child is more familiar with: “Sometimes I’m grumpy. Sometimes I’m… I’m sorry God.”
- The reality is that little ones will have their grumpy times. Perhaps very often. So this is a helpful thing for little ones to say to God, perhaps at the end of a day.
- What’s important to add here is that we as adults need to be a godly model to children. Not modelling ‘perfection’ as we can’t do that. We’re sinners too. But an honest model of saying ‘sorry’ to our children and to God. Adults have their share of grumpy times. In adult language it might be frustration, impatience, anger… sin. But a child observing us might just say we’re being grumpy or getting mad (or something to that effect). There will be times when we do (or don’t do) or say things that we regret. It’s appropriate for us to have the humility and the honesty to say ‘sorry’ to our children. And to then say that you will be saying ‘sorry’ to God for what you did/didn’t do. For those of us who are Christians, we are showing our child a visual aid of what it means to be a Christian. That’s a 24 hour a day visual aid, which is a big ask. They see us when we are grumpy and all the other difficult times. And there will be times when we need to say sorry to our child for our sinful grumpiness. It’s a huge model to our child to confess to them that we have done (or said) something we shouldn’t have done (or said). We are showing them that we are not perfect. But we are also showing them how to appropriately respond—saying sorry to a child but also importantly, saying sorry to God.
9. Please help me stop being grumpy.
- As well as confessing sin, children and adults alike need God’s help in living how God wants us to.
- By praying these words to God, our child can see that we need God’s help to ‘stop being grumpy’.
- Admittedly, some children will demonstrate grumpiness and tantrums more frequently than others, but all children (and adults too) can’t live the way God wants just by themselves/ourselves. We need God’s help.
- Please note, that I’m not suggesting that a 2 year old will automatically stop all their tantrums just by us teaching them about this! We are all sinners. But they are also 2 year old sinners!
- Given the last point for page 8, parents need God’s help in humbly and faithfully living a life that models confession (saying ‘sorry’), rejoicing in God’s love for us as sinners (saying ‘Thank you God’) and asking him to help us (and so praying the words on this page ourselves).
10. God sees me when I’m kind and when I obey.
- Here there’s a development in the text. God can see us.
- God can see what we do.
- A positive thing is that God can see us when we are kind, when we obey and do what we are told. God can see us, for instance, when we are being kind to our baby sister (as in the photo).
11. God also sees me when I’m not kind and when I don’t obey. I can’t hide from God.
- But God doesn’t just see us when we are kind and obedient. God can see us all the time. God also sees us when we are not kind, when we don’t obey, when we disobey. God can see all our actions.
- A further development in the text is that God doesn’t just see us, but we can’t hide from God, ever.
- Sometimes young children can think that if they are not seen doing something, then that’s ok. Children can be very good at lying and trying to cover their tracks. If no one sees it then I’m ok (not just children, actually adults think like this too).
- But the reality is that even if parents don’t see unkind and disobedient actions, God still does. And God knows.
12. God’s book, the Bible, says God sees everything I do.
- How do we know that God does see us? That God sees everything we do? Because God says it in his book, the Bible. The Bible tells us what we need to know. And one of those things is that God sees everything we do. God knows what we are like. God knows that we are not always kind, that we don’t always share, that we don’t always obey.
- If God sees everything we do, then God sees things that we don’t want others to see.
- So we are trying to help our little ones learn over time that we can’t ever fool God. God sees when we do the wrong thing. And we all do wrong things. We all need to say ‘sorry’ to God. Sin matters so much to God that he sent his only Son to die on our behalf.
- It’s when we understand the ever-present reality of our sin, that we realise we can’t be ‘sinless’. We can’t come before God and pretend we haven’t sinned.
- So we don’t want children thinking that they are always good. We don’t want children thinking that if they are good, then they can be God’s friends. Or if they are good, then God will love them. And we need to watch how much we over-praise our children making them think that they are always good.
- When your little one is older and the headmaster calls you to his office to tell you something that your child has done wrong, what will your reaction be? “Oh no, you must have the wrong child. My Johnny would never do that.” I’m sure you’d like it to be the case, but we need to realise the nature of sin. We are all sinful and we are all capable of sin. We need to pray that God will help our little ones and our bigger ones and our really big ones, to say ‘sorry’ to God and to desire to obey him. We need to pray that God will help them realise that they need a Saviour. And to know that God has blessed us in the most amazing way by providing a sinless Saviour. But our children must see that they need God’s precious Saviour—to call out to him, trust in him and so be saved by him. For God sees everything we do. And God knows that we are not sinless ourselves.
13. “You see me… you know all my actions.” Psalm 139 verse 3
- Point out that the ‘You’ is God.
- ‘Actions’ are the things we do. God sees and knows about all of them.
- So God sees the good and the naughty things we do… but there’s an important truth over the page.
14. Thank you God for loving me. Please help me love you. Please help me remember to say ‘Sorry God’.
- It’s important to remember God’s love and to remind your child that God loves them. The big thing about God’s love is that even though God sees everything we do (when we are obeying and when we are disobeying; when we are kind and when we are not kind) he loves us. He loves us so much that he sent Jesus. God loves us lots and lots.
- A verse in Romans is a good reminder—a truth your child can learn as they grow. Romans 5:8 “But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” GNT
- So God seeing everything we do and God still loving us (in spite of our sin) is a big thing to thank God for.
- Saying thank you to God isn’t just thanking him for things, but it’s very much thanking God for who he is (a loving God) and for what he has done in Jesus (loving us so much that he sent Jesus).
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