Spiritual habits can be formed with your child(ren at any age. Some are centered around holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. But many are daily habits you can establish like prayer, Bible reading, journaling, and memorization. We hope these suggestions and ideas will be tools you can use with your child as they grow and mature in their walk with God.
Praying with and over your child is an excellent habit to start now. Pray over them while they sleep, or even as they fall asleep. Let that be a habit they become accustomed to even though they don't understand what prayer is yet.
Start the habit of reading the Bible with your child at a young age. Use a picture Bible and/or read aloud Bible stories to help them engage with God's Word even now.
Some picture Bibles you can use with your one-year-old:
>> Baby's First Bible Stories by Paragon Books
>> The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
>> Baby's Hug-a-Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
There are so many habits that help young kids understand faith. One of those is the habit of praying before you eat. Everyone in the family can participate in mealtime prayers. At two years of age it will most likely be repeat-after-me prayers, but as time progresses they'll be able to pray more and more by themselves.
Christmas traditions are abundant, but make sure Christmas is about Christ's birth and more than just gifts.
>> Read the Christmas story as a family before opening gifts.
>> Allow them to play with a manger scene.
>> Have a birthday party for Jesus.
>> Participate in Operation Christmas Child and give presents to kids around the world, to show God's love.
Take advantage of everyday experiences to teach your child about prayer. When you see an ambulance or hear sirens, take a moment to pray for those affected. Demonstrate this habit of prayer yourself. it will make a big difference to your kids.
There are many spiritual traditions surrounding the Easter season. Things like Resurrection Eggs are a fun way to teach the Easter Story. You can also make Resurrection Rolls or cookies. Make sure the focus you put on Easter is Christ, His resurrection and celebrating Jesus!
Make a habit of daily or regularly asking your kids about God Sightings. These are ways they've seen God at work. It will take some time and modeling on your part before kids start to get it. Some examples to get you started:
>> Sit outside and point out some things God has made that make you smile.
>> Pray for a family member and thank God for that person.
>> Look for someone showing God's love to someone else.
>> Take a long drink of cold water. Thank God for providing the water you need to stay alive!
>> You can even BE a God Sighting by showing God's love to someone. (Give someone a hug, help someone who seems tired, make a card to brighten someone's day, etc.)
Devotions are so important for all of us. Teaching your children this habit early will develop life-long patterns that will keep them grounded. Get your child an age-appropriate devotional book they can use, and buy them new ones if the novelty wears off.
We recommend Christianbook.com as a resource for finding devotional books.
At Thanksgiving, there are many traditions that teach the biblical value of thankfulness. James 1:17 is a wonderful verse to memorize during the Thanksgiving season.
>> Create "Thankful Trees" where each family member writes things they are thankful for on leaves or tags.
>> Create a "Thankful Turkey" where your hand makes a turkey and write something you're thankful for on each finger.
Serving is an important aspect of our relationship with God. There are many ways you can serve as a family at Oakwood or with other organizations. Check out local nursing homes, Loves + Fishes, Operation Christmas Child, and others.
Make mealtime a tradition in your family. Turn it into a spiritual habit by making sure to read Scripture or have a short family devotion at least a few times a week.
>> Try the One Year Book of Family Devotions by Tyndale
Continue to invest in spiritual traditions and habits that will last throughout your child's life. One way to do this is to memorize Scripture as a family. Another is to teach your child how to journal about God's Word and pray daily. Buy them a new journal and participate in the process with them.