I have begun to purposefully teach my grand-daughter the meaning of the words/actions of accident, , mistake, and sin. She is ripe for the learning as she is telling me "Grandma I had an accident." "Grandma, I made a mistake." "Grandma, is this a sin?"
Let's clarify definitions:
an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap
1. an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
2.a misunderstanding or misconception.
1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
(All definitions are from http://dictionary.reference.com/)
One may question whether a 4 year old can willingly sin. I have been told by the "professional" in my ECFE class children do not lie on purpose-I disagree. My granddaughter lies to avoid punishment, disapproval, or making me unhappy/angry. These are the same reasons I lie. Yes, I lie. I sin. Horrific and unsettling as it is- I need to admit it. How can I teach a child what sin is and how to refrain from it or admit sin if I can't admit I am guilty? Impossible.
Each of these definitions needs to be attached to the actions of every day living in order for a child to learn the difference. Spilling a glass of milk can be any one of the three, depending on why or how it was done. An accident would be inadvertently knocking the glass over during meal time. A mistake would be, over-filling the glass. A sin would be pouring the milk out purposely to make a mess, knowing it angers another. A questionable "sinful" spilling would be fooling around at the table after being asked not to and spilling one's milk-disobedience. (Handle that "child's" behavior carefully. Be sure to target the disobedience, while at the same time understanding a child's childish behavior.)
My point is, if we do not teach our children the difference in intent, they have no clue as to what is acceptable behavior. But please- teach with love. Teach with a heart burdened to do God's perfect will. And know you will suffer the consequences of accidents. You will make mistakes. You will sin. But I implore you to continue on in good faith, the task set before you-until He calls you home. For not to do so is sin.
(Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us")