How do you teach kids about your faith?
My child happens to be easily scared of things. She gets bothered when she sees someone do something against the rules. She gets upset for others who are hurt. In short, she is sensitive and empathic.
Although this is a sweet nature, it can be a little hard at times to navigate her emotions. I had to be very careful with the stories we read to her because even fairytales sometimes makes her sad or scared.
So one day when she asked about the man on the cross displayed at the altar, I did not know how to answer her right away.
I tried my best to tell the story truthfully without scaring her or making her too sad. As a former preschool teacher in a Catholic school, this part of Jesus’ story is tricky to talk about (that, and the Holy trinity and Joseph).
I failed miserably on my first try, no matter how careful I was. Sadly, our crucifix ended up in the drawer because she asked if I could keep it hidden when she slept that night.
So in the days that passed, I tried to retell the story. Slowly, she felt better with the crucifix around and comfortable with the story of Jesus’ passion.
So how did I do it?
Sing Your Praises
Children, including mine, love singing different songs. I introduced her to different religious/ Christian songs as early as possible but after the whole crucifix thing I was more conscious of the kind of songs I want her to hear.
I remembered she already heard “Jesus is My Superhero.” I told her that Jesus is like
a superhero who will give up His life to rescue and save us.
She also enjoyed singing along to “Jesus Loves Me.” I told her many times that Jesus loves all of us alot, it says so in the bible and we can feel it every day in big and small ways.
Read About It
I was in luck to find a very nice book from a thrift store. It is called “I Know Jesus Loves Me” written and iilustrated by P.K. Hallinan. It is just a sweet book with words that are easy to understand and illustrations that are really cute.
I use stories in the bible sparingly for now since I make sure the stories are not too scary for her. It helps to look for story books that have the same Christian values but are more child-friendly and less scary.
Sometimes I also use stories of real people and how they said they felt the prescence of God in their lives. Using real people, especially those whom your child is familiar with will make the story of our faith more concrete and relatable.
Show Me How
Of course we need to be good models ourselves. I showed my daughter how not to be scared of the cross and instead, how to show respect.
In everything else we will teach them about our faith, it is important to walk the talk.
It has been 2 years since my daughter first asked about the cross. I thought, this year she can handle a little more about the story of Jesus’ passion and help her make sense of the Palm and Easter Sundays.
Aside from attending mass on both Sundays and having an easter egg hunt, I told her the story behind Easter and why It is important for all of us.
She may not have grasp everything yet but I think somehow, she knows a little bit more now that she did last Easter.
Teaching children about Jesus can be tough. Love and fear are different things and I do not want my child to follow God just because she fears punishment or hell. Instead, I want her to know about God and love Him from those wonderful stories in the bible and in real life.
It can be hard, but I think it will all be worth it when we see our children blossom in their faith and become someone who pleases and serves God first.