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Home > Support > Teaching the Faith > How can I get my daughter to be respectful during prayer time?

First I want to thank you for answering my questions. I guess I just needed assurance that I'm doing okay since this is my first time ever. The good news is that my 5 yr old daughter is enjoying this so much that she wants to have school on the weekends! She even insists on it so I came up with this idea: whatever pages we didn't get to during the week, she can work on those along with "fun pages" which are her favorites: mazes and dot-to-dot. They're also a great motivator for getting her to do the assigned pages when she doesn't want to do them.

My next question is this: She refuses to kneel, make the Sign of the Cross and be respectful during our opening prayer. The only thing she wants to do is say the Our Father which I think is absolutely wonderful! How can I get her to be respectful during prayer time without turning her off? One day, I lost my patience with her and she refused to have school until later that day when we both cooled off. I don't want to ever do that again! I felt so awful. Thank you so much for all of your help and God bless you abundantly!


Dear Mom,

Thank you so much for sharing your progress. It is always a lovely confirmation of the Lord's desire that we uplift and encourage one another when a mom takes the time and effort to share her success.

Young children often have a difficult time understanding the importance of reverent behavior. In the same respect young children have their own meaning of appropriate behavior. I understand your frustration with efforts that seem to serve only to upset and cause confrontations. Let me begin by telling you that I admire your desire to set a proper example right from the start. It is worthy to consider the message that our attitudes during prayer will have upon the effectiveness of prayer with regard to the peace that we hope to gain from our time before the Lord. Let's consider something that I am certain a dear mommy such as yourself probably takes for granted.

When you are reading a bedtime story or book to your little girl, it is no doubt a cozy time for both you and your daughter. I would imagine that the two of you curl up on the sofa and read the pages carefully and with great tenderness. It is just this same attitude of prayer that the Father desires when we come before Him to speak to Him through our prayers. I am of a mind that prayer time with young children should be a time of tender sharing. Praying the prayers while sitting next to one another on the sofa is not only desirable but sets a mood of comfort and safety for children. When we are teaching children to pray we must consider their maturity and their ability to understand the very abstract nature of prayer. It may be quite helpful for your little girl if you find pictures for her to look at while you are saying the prayers. My own children enjoyed this very much and found it to be comforting. They were able to focus upon the images while reciting the prayers.

Having a family altar is an excellent way to help a young child focus their attentions while in prayer. The pictures and statues should change often so that they are stimulating to the young child's eye and mind. Enlist your little girl's help when decorating the altar to reflect the liturgical seasons.

It is far better to have a short fruitful time of prayer than a longer time that becomes a struggle for a young child. Your little girl is very young and she will change in her attitudes as she matures. I promise you, that she will begin to see prayer time as a lovely time to be with you and to speak with Jesus.

I admire your reaction during the time you lost your patience. It is wise to have a cooling off period after we have lost our patience. Children need to see that it is healthy to let tempers cool before beginning a new task. It is perfectly normal for humans to lose their patience. However this can be a learning time as well. Explaining to your little girl that your behavior was not acceptable and apologizing for hurtful statements that you may have made is powerful to the mind of a young child. Children see their parents as all powerful. I know that sounds funny to us but in their little minds and hearts we can do no wrong. So when we make a mistake it is important that children understand that even adults can make mistakes. The lesson is in the apology that should follow the loss of patience. This sets a good example for a small child. Children are so loving and quick to forgive. That is a great blessing. Remember to move forward. Jesus has forgiven the mistake and will give you the graces necessary to begin again.

Let us offer our prayers this evening for the dear children the world over who will not have the advantage of learning about the tender love and mercy of the Lord. There are so many households where talk of Jesus is never allowed. Our prayers on the behalf of these poor little ones will go a long way. Lord, please guard and protect children who are in Godless homes. Help to open hearts and minds to the truth of Your tender love and care. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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