Trying to have a conversation with a preschooler can sometimes feel as fulfilling as banging your head against a brick wall. Little ones can obsess about a certain subject, give one word answers, or better yet, give you no answers at all. The church tells you that you need to have meaningful conversations with your preschoolers to start laying the foundation of their faith, but is it really possible? More than that, HOW?
Sitting down for a formal devotion never quite pans out in the world of preschoolers. You may get their attention for 2 minutes per age of the child, and that’s only if you’re bringing your “A” game…puppets, video and a bag of tricks. Intimidating? These days there is so much competing for your child’s attention visually. In the days of Xbox, Kindles and TVs, what’s a mom to do?
You need to capitalize in everyday life. You look for the times that you have a captive audience. Meal time, bath time, bed time and drive time are great times to talk to you children about faith.
Meal time: Saying a blessing or having your child say the blessing before a meal demonstrates a thankful heart to God. It shows your child that we can talk to God. It also reinforces a habit of praying. A great activity to do with your child at mealtime is to make a conversation starter kit. You can place questions in a jar that your child can pick out for you to ask. These need to be open-ended questions that can start a dialogue. They can be fun questions like, “If you were a bird, where would you fly?”. Or maybe you can ask a little more serious question, “What makes you feel afraid?” That question alone can lead to a reminder of “God is with us always.”
Bath time: This can be a great time to talk about how God made your child special. As you’re washing their arms you can tell the about how God made their tiny arm. Children need to hear that they are special and they are loved just as they are by you the parent and by the Creator of the universe.
Bed time: Bed time is a great time to read a bible story to your child. A picture storybook bible helps to keep their minds engaged as you are reading. A prayer to God after reading helps to reinforce spending time with God, a habit you want them to develop later in life.
Drive time: Why not take advantage of the time you have your child strapped down? Talk about a “captive” audience! Most vehicles these days have a DVD player, and they are most always playing something. Why not take the time to play a Veggie Tales (italics) or something else with a special emphasis? Does your child love music? Play some fun songs that your child knows from Sunday mornings.
Always remember… when you feel frustrated because you don’t feel like you’re getting through to your preschooler, they are observing a parent that is engaging with them. They may not remember the exact spiritual topic you are trying to convey, but they will remember a parent who spent time with them and who was pointing them to Jesus. One of the best ways you can show your child how to spend time with Jesus, is to let them see you spending time with Jesus.