It is important to engage your child with the Lent season each year. Doing so at a young age creates opportunity for learning and the growth of faith that will last a lifetime. Here are a few ways to capture your child’s interest and nourish their souls during Lent.
- Make it a family affair: Children can be encouraged from a young age to “give up” something for Lent or make changes in their behavior in some way. But children may engage more with this concept if the entire family also chooses something to sacrifice together. Maybe you skip the weekly movie night for 40 days or avoid restaurants. Seeing mom and dad do the same things they are is a real motivator for children. And, needless to say, you need to follow through!
- Make it a family affair, part 2: If “giving up” things is not your style and you prefer the concept of using Lent to serve or benefit others, this can be done as a family as well. Consider a weekly volunteer effort. Or embark on simplifying your home by donating old items and/or refusing to buy new items. Indeed, this simplification really speaks to the heart of Lent and is a great family activity. Just spend the necessary time discussing it with your children and providing them a day or two to adjust to the idea.
- Visit church more frequently: Attend a few extra masses or stop in for prayers. This is a time of additional reflection and pentinence. If your child is not used to this, your visits can be short - but there is no better time than Lent to explain the importance of doing sometimes uncomfortable things for the benefit of faith.
- Make a prayer chain: Write a person’s name or a thing (like peace, vocations, etc) on a slip of paper. Do this 40 times. Connect the paper into a chain. Each day of Lent, tear off one piece of the chain and focus your prayer on what is written there.
- Attend a passion play, especially if it geared towards a younger audience
- Purchase a few Lenten items for your home. Displaying a crown of thorns solemnly on the mantle or a prominent shelf can serve as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice. Indeed, a crown of thorns is not just for church! If a crown of thorns is too much for your family (it may not make an impact on the little ones), consider stocking your home with books about Lent or light purple candles. A lent calendar is a great accompaniment to a crown of thorns, books, or candles - kids love seeing the progress of time passing as Easter draws closer.
Lot of other ideas exist - especially in the area of arts and crafts! - so do a bit of research. Even though Lent is underway, many of these can be implemented late or adjusted.