Modeling and exposure help teach small children about what we believe and what being Catholic looks like. Here are my seven recommendations to help your toddler become more immersed in a Catholic identity.
Sacred Art and Icons
Whether it’s staring gleefully at pictures of relatives in your camera roll or admiring mom and dad’s wedding album, images can be powerful tools for kids to learn about their world, and the important people and events in it. Be sure to expose them to images of the important people and events of our faith. Icons of Jesus and Mary, statues of saints, and paintings of the Last Supper can all help kids to know that the faith is important too.
Kids’ Saint Anthologies
There are many great books out there that are geared towards kids at various levels that share about the lives of saints. It’s a great way to start a conversation about what holiness looks like. To make it even more special, find books that include saints relevant to your family, region or parish.
Whether silicone or wood, an oversized child’s rosary should be a staple in every Catholic home with small children. Odds are, if you’re a parent, you’ve already got a few. Taking it one step further, showing them the cross, the medal of Mary, and how it’s used for prayer can help them appreciate the rosary’s significance.
Their Patron Saint
Fostering devotion begins by making it personal. Tell the story of your child’s patron saint. Let them have holy cards and dolls of their saint. Pray to that saint for and with your child. If you didn’t give your child a patron saint at baptism, you can choose one now based on their name or by finding a saint whose feast day is close to their birth or baptismal day.
Hear me out. As daunting as it may seem, daily Mass can be a great tool for teaching toddlers. They get to be in a sacred space, become more familiar with the prayers of the Mass and see you making faith a daily priority. Sometimes a shorter, more chill, less populated daily Mass can even be easier for kids than the hustle and bustle of Sunday morning.
Let them see you pray
Children learn through modeling. When we pray in front of our toddlers, they learn more than we even realize. More than letting them see you offer Our Fathers, let them see that you have a personal and intimate relationship with God. And if you don’t, let them see you working on it. We tell them to play quietly when we have an important phone call, why not when we are taking some minutes to mediaite and speak with Christ? It shows them how important prayer is and what an adult prayer life looks like.
Praying with them
A quick Hail Mary before bed, an angelus at lunchtime, or a short and sweet morning offering punctuate a child’s day with prayer. Praying with toddlers shouldn’t be long and complicated–almost nothing we do with them can be. Inviting them to join you in short prayers they’ll soon memorize shows them that the faith and prayer isn’t just for adults.
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