Praying with Younger and Older Kids
Praying with younger kids
Toddlerhood is a demanding and often frantic time. It can be tempting to delay introducing regular prayer, but as chaotic as it may be, younger children are more receptive to new traditions.
- Keep it Short
A wiggly three year old will have trouble sitting still for an entire Rosary, so don’t set up a situation that will turn you into the Official Prayer Time Fire-breathing Dragon! A Decade, Joey Rosary or a ‘Hail Mary’ said well is preferable to an entire Rosary forcibly extracted.
Young kids are naturally open and willing with prayer so including spontaneous elements like prayer intentions for today’s Rosary make for some heartwarming and hilarious moments. The Trinity Prayer is a great balance of spontaneity and structure and even the youngest can engage with it.
- Let ‘em Lead
Even pre-literate kids can learn prayers and then lead them. It encourages them to take ownership of their prayer life and helps them to feel important and needed in the spiritual life of the family.
Praying with older kids
If your kids are 10 and older, starting a family prayer tradition needs a firm but positive approach. You may have to work a little harder to find the ‘sweet spot’ but the benefits are well worth the effort.
- Have a Family Discussion
Include your kids in the planning and have input in the timing and format as well as expectations around attendance and participation.
- Keep the Pressure OFF!
No cajoling, begging, nagging or guilt-tripping! You cannot force their relationship with Jesus, you can only create an opportunity and invite them to pray with you.
- Seize the Day!
Don’t just limit prayer to the pre-scheduled time slot. Take advantage of spontaneous opportunities. For example, if your child is anxious about an exam, give them a blessing, if you find yourselves in the midst of a marvel of nature, take a moment to praise God for his creation.
When it all falls apart…
Life throws us curve-balls, we’re not perfect and neither are our kids. The families who become masters of family prayer are families who know how to get back on the horse, again and again and again.
- Don’t Despair!
If it was that easy, we’d all be saints. Beating yourself up about lapsing is not helpful for you or for anyone else! Instead take a deep breath, ask Jesus for guidance and try again.
- Learn the Lessons
Take a little time to consider what went wrong. Was it the time? Was the routine getting a bit too juvenile or boring? Are you (or your spouse) feeling overwhelmed in general? Whatever the reason is, go back to basics and make the necessary adjustments and try again!
- Seasonal Renewal
Our Church calendar has two seasons of penance and renewal timed to be at the beginning and the end of the year. If your family prayer time has dropped off the radar, Lent and Advent are the perfect times to focus on picking it back up again! Both seasons are filled with concentrated graces to give you a spiritual shot in the arm.