Tips for Successful Devotions with Young Kids {How to Do Children's Devotions}

Tips for Successful Devotions with Young Kids
My most important job is to teach my children about God. There are many ways to go about this: praying with and in front of my children; talking with my kids about how God affects our every day lives; having theological discussions with my children; reading kids' devotionals and other Christian books for children; listening to and watching Christian media for kids; among other things. But reading the Bible with my children is a top priority.

The only trouble with Bible reading with young children can be very, very difficult to get them to listen. Many mothers complain their little ones wiggle too much, or argue during Bible reading, or or touch each other, or kick each other, or breathe on each other, or otherwise cause disruptions that make Bible reading impossible. If you have this trouble in your home, read on. Here's what works for us:

* Choose your time wisely. You and your children are probably at your freshest in the morning. Evening devotions are okay, too, but I find I'm more likely to feel impatient when it's nearly bedtime - and my children are less likely to remember what we read.

* Make sure your children's needs are met. If they are hungry or thirsty or need to use the restroom, it will be impossible for them to pay attention to the Bible. So get those basic needs out of the way before you begin.

* Try singing first. Sing a hymn or a Bible verse (for example, something from Hide 'Em in Your Heart) with your kids. Encourage them to stand up, make hand motions, and even dance. This gets the wiggles out.

* Try mealtime. Typically, I read the Bible to my children while they eat breakfast. I find they listen very well while they are eating a meal (not just a snack), and that breakfast becomes a mostly laid back time, where we can easily discuss the Bible.

* Try quiet activities. If for some reason I can't read the Bible while my children eat breakfast, I usually sit on the couch in the morning and have the children gather around while I read. But they don't just sit; they have quiet activities to do. Usually this is coloring or drawing, but anything works as long as it isn't noisy and leaves them free to listen. Truly, most children seem to listen better if their hands are busy.

* Pick the right Bible. There's nothing wrong with reading a regular, adult Bible to your children. (Although you'll probably want to skip certain, more mature sections.) However, I believe it's invaluable to have Bibles your children can more readily understand. Not only should each child have his or her own Bible (which should be geared toward their age group), I recommend having a children's Bible storybook that appeals to all your children - except perhaps the babies and toddlers in your family. In addition, I like having several children's Bible storybooks around, so we can finish one and - instead of repeating everything we just read - pick up another. Invariably, the stories are a bit different and the author's approach lends a freshness to the stories. Click here for my Bible recommendations.

How do you make devotions with young children work in your family?

Originally published 4/30/14.


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