These five words can help teach your toddler what the Catholic faith is all about. Plus, a five-word prayer for bedtime.
Teaching a toddler to pray can be difficult when we are so used to using words for prayer. By one year old, they may have the ability to imitate a few words and understand what they mean. By two, some can string along a simple sentence. This can also make it hard to teach our young children the beauty of the Catholic faith.
The five words that follow can help teach your child the fundamentals of the faith and form the basis of a simple prayer your child can say before bed every night.
Five Simple Words
Jesus: Jesus is the person at the center of our faith, and to whom your child may find it easiest to pray. When your child knows the word Jesus, they can learn all that he stands for—redemption, forgiveness, love, sacrifice, heaven—without being able to say the words. It also gives them someone tangible to pray to.
God: Not only is God relatively easy for most toddlers to say, but it’s the second piece of the puzzle in understanding who God is. Perhaps the most valuable reason for your child to learn the word God is because he is Jesus’ father—a relationship that most children readily understand. Knowing the relationship between God and Jesus opens up a whole new dynamic of our faith.
Love: Love is the most important theme of our faith. It is the motivation for Christ’s sacrifice, the basis for our morality, and why God created us. Love permeates every moment of our existence. By learning the word love, your toddler will not only be able to communicate their love for you, but can start to understand the great love that God has for them.
Sorry: Forgiveness and repentance are necessary for a world in which we continually hurt God and hurt each other. Learning sorry will not only help your child apologize to others, but will help them have a right attitude toward sin—rather than ignoring it or justifying it, your child can learn from an early age that they should apologize for their transgressions. This can also help even a toddler say a simple act of contrition: “Jesus, I’m sorry.”
Amen: Amen is a versatile word and fun to say. Have your kids shout it excitedly! It means many things, but is always a passionate affirmation of belief. When your child can say Amen, you have a way get them excited about praying, and since it ends nearly every prayer, its a way they can participate without knowing a lot of words.
Getting in a routine of saying bedtime prayers can help sustain your child’s prayer life as they grow older. When they’re young, you may have them kneel next to you and follow along as you pray. Once they can say a few words, though, try saying this simple prayer:
“Jesus, I love you. Amen.”
It is simple, but it says all a little one needs to say. With just these five words, your toddler can start cultivating a life of prayer and a relationship with Jesus.
What words does your toddler know to help her pray? What prayers do you say before bed?