Mama and dada are familiar first words from little ones as they hit new baby talk milestones.
Saying prayers with simple motions and words can help them learn how to express thanks as babies and toddlers too. Prayer is an important way to live in relationship with God.
Share these fun and easy ways to get started with parents and caregivers in your early childhood ministries as we all give thanks to the Lord and each other!
Pray with your voice!
Young children naturally begin to imitate what they see and hear as they develop – from trying to match the shape of your lips and smile to mimicking (and loving) your hugs and kisses.
As you talk to them and they hear your voice, let them also hear you pray. Long, short, happy, sad, joyful, mournful, quiet, loud, morning, noon, and night-time prayers. They may not understand all of the words, but they will begin to recognize the pattern and meter of your prayer language as you talk to God.
Include simple prayers of thanks to God for each of the things in creation you see and point to as you take a walk or ride with your child.
Prayers naming the people in your family and friends.
Prayers for food and pets.
Even diaper changing time offers an opportunity to pray for your child as you look at each other.
And, don’t be surprised the first time you hear them say, “Amen!” at the end of your prayer!
Pray with your hands!
Sign language helps young children start to communicate, even before your little one speaks their first word. The motion for “thank you” is simple.
First touch your chin with your finger tips, and then bring your fingers forward. Yes, young children may touch their mouth, nose, and whole face to start and it may often look like they are blowing you a kiss.
Celebrate and reinforce their efforts with the words thank you so they associate the motion with the concept and phrase.
Thank them as often as possible and they will develop a faith practice and lifetime habit of manners as they are taking their first steps in other physical, social, and spiritual developmental areas.
Prayers for you and prayers for them
Frolic resources offer prayers for you and your little one. Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving prayers from the deck of Frolic Prayer Cards you can say on your own, with your little one, and as a family.
Dear God, Thank you for this world! It’s full of surprises, like new colors, flavors, and sounds! We’re amazed by your creation. Amen.
Creator God, Thank you for this wiggly body. I love my (touch and say or invite child to name different body parts). You made each amazing part of me. Amen.
For your gifts, God, thank you! For our lives, God, thank you! For this good food, God, thank you! Amen.
Look for more blog posts on giving thanks, practicing gratefulness, and expressing gratitude for all ages this November!