Sunday, December 2, 2012

How to Teach Your Toddler To Pray

90%, if not all, of parents hope that their kids grow up to be good Christians. I hear that wish every time from parents during their kids' birthday parties. So how do we do that and when to start?

In our case, I think we're doing a fine job with it. At 14 months, Yanna can somehow do the sign of the cross, knows that she needs to say a prayer before eating and sleeping, and knows how to pray at Sunday masses. She does the sign of the cross (which is tapping her chest 3x) and clasps her hands. She does this several times during mass. I am at awe everytime she does it.

Here are some tips from our experience:

1. Make it a habit to go to Sunday mass together as a family. As soon as Yanna was baptized, we made sure to always take her to the mass with us. To ensure good behavior from her, we attend mass schedules that are after her nap times. This avoids a cranky little church-goer. Of course there will be times that crying is inevitable. When this happens we take her outside the church first and return inside once she has calmed down. Since going to mass has become part of her Sunday schedule, amazingly, she no longer gets cranky inside the church and is now very well-behaved. She can now finish the mass without fuss. She's very behaved with her hands clasped together in praying position. She even sings! I'd take a photo if only we weren't in church! She's just so adorable!

Ready for mass. Baby Yanna at 3 months.

2. Eat together and say a prayer before meal. We started doing this when Yanna's 6 months old. It is important to eat together as a family to make mealtime fun for her and to teach her how important it is to share a meal with Mom and Dad. We also showed her that we need to pray before eating. At 12 months, we were surprised to see her clasping her hands together while praying. At 13 months, she started saying "Am" for Amen. And now at 14 months, once all three of us are at the table, she will remind us to pray by calling our attention, showing her clasped hands and saying "Am". Just recently, she started doing the sign of the cross (tapping her chest). Sigh, I'm such a proud mom!

3. Include your toddler when you say your bedtime prayers. Moms and Dads, I hope you are still saying your bedtime prayers together. With our fast-paced lives now, I know it's not easy. My hubby does not have a normal 8-5 work schedule so whenever he's still not home during Yanna's bedtime, I make sure that I say my bedtime prayer with Yanna. There are times when Yanna will wait for her dad to come home, and that's the time we pray together as a family. It is very important to make bedtime prayer a habit even at her very young age. Yanna really surprises me. Because she knows that prayer comes before sleeping, there are times when we forget and she reminds us! She would clasp her hands and hold it high up and show us. LOL! To prove to you that she's so into praying, whenever we finish our prayer and say goodnight, she cries! She wants to pray over and over again! LOL! I'll bet she will be able to memorize the prayers by age two at the rate we're going.

Yanna knows a lot of stuff already like trying to say the alphabet, numbers, but knowing the concept of prayer is by far the biggest milestone that she has achieved and we're so proud of being good role models to her.

How about you? What tips can you share? :)

Mommy May