How Catholic was your home growing up? I only remember saying prayers before bed, for instance, when I spent the night at my grandmother’s house and grace was reserved for holidays (which were usually at that same grandmother’s house!). My parents were kind of lukewarm growing up, attending Mass and getting the sacraments up until my Confirmation and then, well, that was it. I don’t even think we went to Mass much after that. After falling away and then coming back when we were considering starting our family, I really wanted better for them than I had.
Here is the tentative schedule that I have used when introducing my little ones to prayer. The ages are only approximate and are GREATLY dependent on how well they can communicate and what their interest and attention is. I will also say that I have 2 girls. I have heard boys are different; I don’t really know since I don’t have any. All that just to say that isn’t meant to be a hard and fast schedule, but it is what seems to work well for us. If you are wondering how and when to start introducing your children to prayer, this may be helpful for you.
- Help them make the Sign of the Cross whenever the rest of family is doing it (Mass, Grace, Family Rosary, etc.)
- Guardian Angel prayer (at bedtime)
- Hail Mary (at bedtime)
- Our Father (at bedtime)
- Simple Morning Offering
- Oh Jesus, I give you today. All that I think and do and say.
- A decade of the Rosary
- The Angelus (with the morning offering)
If your children are inclined to move quicker or slower, feel free to move ahead, slow down, or add prayers as desired. I know that when children were young, on those days where they were reluctant, grumpy, sick, etc. and were unable (or unwilling) to say the words after, I said them for them (or finished them) at bedtime. After time, they became accustomed to the fact that we say prayers before bed. Period. Only you can be the judge of whether to push it that day, but I would try not to make it a punishment or force it if they aren’t ready.
Above all, be consistent and make it a part of your family’s culture!
Did I miss any of your favorite prayers for little ones?
Copyright 2013 Jen Steed