As Catholics we pray the family Rosary every night with our litany of night prayers and novenas. This can get a little tricky with little ones but as we are trying to train our children to consistently practice family prayer it is important to start young.
We have a few little tricks we do that help us with our toddlers, who have a pretty hard time sitting still!
First off, it’s important to realize that babies and toddlers have a hard time sitting still when doing something fun let alone something repetitious like prayer. We have to think about this when we expect something out of them. Also, it’s important not to get upset with them as thisis what they will remember growing up! We want them to remember the peace of speaking with Our Lord and Our Lady, not how Mom and Dad made them sit still for so long!
Why Is Daily Prayer So Important?
I believe it is important because it keeps a constant reminder in our heads that we are solely dependent on God for everything we have. If we need something from Our Lord than we are reminded to ask for it during this time.
If you neglect daily prayer, especially as a family, than you forget why you are here; to save your soul and the souls of your children. After all, why did God give your children to you? They are only temporarily in our care. It is our job, as parents, to return them to Him. If we don’t instill in them at an early age to always keep their minds focused in the direction of God where will the world teach them to focus their attentions? Not a nice thought.
Our Solution – The Daily Rosary and Night Prayers
What Do We Do With Our Toddlers During Family Prayers?
1 Year Old
Starting with the youngest, if the baby (just turned one) wants to nurse I sit down with her and feed her. I see nothing wrong with this (even though the rest of the family is kneeling) and actually see it as my responsibility. Not only does it keep her busy but it gives her a little Mommy time and keeps her from being distracting. If she isn’t wanting to nurse than one of the older girls holds her while sitting behind everyone else so she’s out of sight a little. We give her a quiet toy or a baby’s rosary to keep her mind occupied a little.
3 Year Old
Our three year old is just starting to kneel consistently during the rosary. He still sits/kneels next to me and occasionally plays with some toys. But, as he sees his older brothers (5 and 7) kneeling, he wants to feel BIG and kneel as well. However, sometimes it’s hard with his attention span to keep this up. Where I kneel is right next to the toy corner so if he gets tired of kneeling he just bends over and picks something up to ‘play’ with. If he’s quiet then I let him. If he’s noisy, then I tell him no. He has his own toddler rosary as well.
5 Year Old
Our five year old has been learning the decades of the rosary. He is the one that announces what mystery we are on. Not only does he learn the mysteries but this helps give him an active role in the rosary and keeps his interest up as well. He used to always get them all right but for some reason he recently started getting most of them wrong. I’m not really sure why but when he misses one we ask his older brother what the mystery is, hoping that next time he’ll try harder. He tends to play and can get silly when we’re asking for the mystery so we’re wondering if this is why he’s missing them. Giving him this ‘consequence’, we’re hoping he’ll try harder.
The rest of the children know what to do as they’ve been trained the same as we’ve been currently training our babies.
It can take a little bit of training and patience as you will have a few interruptions, to be sure. But, I guarantee you that it is worth it. You are teaching them the importance of prayer at an early age. This, of course, teaches them where to go when they need help at an older age.
I’m not saying it won’t be hard. However, keep it up and don’t give up! The fruits of your labor will soon be apparent!