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Teaching Toddlers to Pray with a Prayer Box

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How do you teach your toddler to pray? Start simple! Here’s a fun prayer box craft that can help your toddler pray for friends and distant relatives.

by Brian Smith

How can I introduce meaningful prayer to my children? What age should I start? Where do I begin?!?

These are questions that all of us Catholic parents will ask ourselves at some point or another. As children grow into toddlers, their vocabulary explodes! The age of 2-3 is often a great time to start teaching your child how to pray with purpose.

As you begin this journey, consider the following:

  1. What are the strengths and limitations of my child?
    Knowing what your child can and cannot handle is critical. Be realistic. The key is to start small and grow. If your child has difficulty sitting still for five minutes, saying an entire rosary is not going to work. (Although we have some strategies that you might try.) You need to start much smaller and build up to it.
  2. What time of day should we pray?
    Many parents prefer to pray around bedtime with their children. Is this the best option for your family? Perhaps around the breakfast table might work better. Consider your child’s energy level. When are they more apt to be ready to focus on prayer?
  3. What should we pray about?
    Our will is not always in line with God’s will. So too, our opinion on what our children should pray about is not always what our kids want to pray for. When teaching your kids to pray, let them take the lead. As a parent, your job is to guide and supplement their prayer.
  4. How should we pray?
    Prayers come in many shapes and forms. It is the intentions that we hold in our heart that God hears. Kids often respond well to visual aids. Below you’ll find a simple craft idea to help you and your kids get started with a meaningful prayer life.

Craft Project: The Family Prayer Box

The prayer box is a simple way to invite kids to pray for their relatives. An added bonus is that children will become more familiar with the names and faces of their extended family. The project involves a shoe box, packing paper, popsicle sticks, pictures, and markers.

  • Begin by collecting pictures of all of the people that are important in your child’s life (siblings, aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents, etc.) Hint: If you’re printing photos out on your own, consider using glossy cardstock paper for a more durable craft.
  • Glue 1 photo to 1 popsicle stick; let dry. Wrap the shoe box with packing paper. Make a small slit through the top of the shoebox for each popsicle stick. Let the kids decorate their box.
  • Once the decorating is done, place each popsicle stick in the box to display. Place the box in a convenient location for your child. When it is time to pray, invite your child to pick 1 family member to pray for and let them hold the popsicle stick.

If all your child can do is hold the popsicle stick while you recite a simple prayer, that’s okay! Faith is often caught rather than taught. Remain steadfast; soon your child will begin understand the importance of the example that you are teaching.

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.