Monday, June 26, 2017

Teaching Toddlers to Pray

As parents, we are the first ones to teach our children many things --- how to walk, how to talk, how to eat properly, how to dress up, how to tie their shoelaces... this list never ends.  But is teaching them how to pray part of your 'lesson plan'?  In ours, it is. :)

It's never too early to begin teaching our kids to pray.  In fact, teaching them while they are toddlers is easiest because it is at this age that children believe everything they are told.  Even if daddy says he's Superman, the little one will believe him wholeheartedly. In our home, my husband and I are making the most out of this natural faith by teaching our little Lia that there's SOMEONE up there whom she can talk to.  Before every meal, she prays and says 'thank you' for her food.  Before we sleep, she prays with mommy and daddy to say 'thank you' for the day.  She even imitates us and closes her eyes habang nakatawa at sumisilip to see if our eyes are closed, too, hehe.  Of course, she doesn't fully understand the concept of praying yet and that's okay. She'll get there as she grows older and smarter. :)

So how do we teach our toddlers to pray?  Let me share our own simple ways:

Introduce your toddler to Jesus.
When Lia was only several months old and she would already recognize people and things, we pointed to the Cross in our room and told her that's Jesus. Whenever we would ask her to point at things or persons, Jesus would always be in the list.  "Where's lola? Where's the TV? Where's the door? The window? Daddy? The books? Jesus? Mommy? The fan?" Et cetera. She learned fast. 

Make praying part of his/her daily routine.
As we can't be with her every day because of work, we taught Lia's yaya how to pray the Grace Before Meals, I wrote it down on her notebook. We told her to not miss the sign of the cross and this prayer before they eat.  Lia was still very young then, and now that she's two, she can pray this on her own. 

Pray through songs.
Our daughter loves to sing and dance so much that we made prayers like "Our Father," "Ama Namin," and "Papuri sa Diyos" part of her song list, along with her nursery rhymes.  Surprisingly and without us explaining, she seems to understand that these songs are songs for God because she hears them when we attend mass.  When we cradle her to sleep, sometimes she even requests for me to sing Our Father as she closes her eyes. Nakakatuwa. :)

Bring him/her to church with you.
Right after Lia's baptism, we had started bringing her to mass with us every Sunday.  Other parents don't for fear of unruly moments with their kids, but luckily for us, we haven't had that problem with Lia. She's relatively behaved inside the church, though there are times when she would suddenly shout a word or two during the priest's homily. Hehe. I think that's fine though.

Have your kid listen to or join you when you pray.
Every night before we go to sleep, or when we're in the car going somewhere, it is a habit of Rolly and me to pray together.  When we're with Lia, we tell her to join us or to listen.  This way, she would learn bit by bit what to say when praying (i.e. the thank you's, the requests, the apologies for shortcomings, etc.), and how to say it.  We also want to show her that simple words are enough when talking to God, and that she can talk to Him wherever she is and whatever she does. No excuses. :)


Rolly and I do not claim to be religious or holy. We are NOT. But faith definitely resides in our hearts and our home.  This faith is the anchor that keeps us together and holds us in place, and we want the same faith and love for God in our child. I hope our own ways will work! :) If you have other ideas, please feel free to share so we can learn from each other. :)

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