Teaching Kids: How to Pray
Nannies and the Spiritual Life of the Children in Their Care
Depending on the family of whom the nanny is employed, part of her duties and responsibilities could be fostering the spiritual development of the children in her care. For this reason, it is important to inquire about the role of faith in a potential employer’s family prior to accepting a new post.
From taking children to youth group to praying daily with her charges, a nanny’s role regarding the children’s spirituality will differ from post to post. For nannies who have a strong faith, working with a family who shares the same faith and wants the nanny to play an active role in imparting faith based lessons can be a rewarding position.
For nannies who do not aspire to any religious practices or beliefs or those who practice a different religion than the family for whom they work, having a clear understanding of the nanny’s role and responsibilities regarding faith and prayer is essential. If a nanny is expected to attend services, read the religion’s sacred text to the children or accompany the children to religious events and doesn’t feel comfortable doing
so, it could be problematic.
If the nanny will have any faith based responsibilities, it is essential that she clearly understand what those are and how any religious practices may affect her work. For example, if a Jewish family keeps a Kosher kitchen, the nanny will need to learn to keep a Kosher kitchen as well. Since religious holidays vary, it’s also important that time-off be discussed prior to accepting a post.
The nanny should take clear direction from the parents when it comes to faith based practices and prayer. She should have a solid understanding of any boundaries the family may have with regards to such and should be informed of the family’s worldview and how they would like common childhood questions the children may ask their nanny, like “Who is God?” and “What happens when you die?”
While the spiritual development of the children is the parents ultimate responsibility, nannies can certainly be called upon to reinforce spiritual beliefs and to encourage children to have an active prayer life.
10 Tips for Teaching a Child to Pray
It’s been said that prayer changes things and indeed it does. Prayer promotes healing in a hurting and broken world. It builds us up when circumstances would tear us down. It gives rise to hope in the face of adversity. It is also a way of praising and honoring our Creator. Teaching our children to pray is a fundamental part of their spiritual development. Here are a few tips on teaching children how to pray.
- Start early – Just like reading to your baby, it’s never too early to pray with them.
- Say grace at mealtimes -There are many simple graces that can be said at meal time. One of the simplest is a short easy verse: God is good, God is great. Thank you, God, for this food. There are also nice table graces that can be sung such as one called “Johnny Appleseed.”
- Get a book of children’s prayers – There are several books on the market today that have prayers for children. Find a book or two that appeals to you then choose a few prayers that you like and teach them to your child. If your child is old enough go through the prayer book with them and chose some prayers.
- Tackle small bits for large prayers – The Lord’s Prayer is a rather large undertaking for little ones but when broken up in smaller pieces and learned a little at a time it can be managed quite well.
- Talk about prayer – Let your child know why you pray. Put the practice of prayer in context so your child can begin to grasp the meaning of the process. Little ones often grasp the concept of sharing their thoughts and lives with an unseen God more quickly and easily than adults do.
- Set aside time for family prayer – Whether daily, weekly or intermittent, coming together for family prayer aside from grace and bedtime prayers teaches your child that prayer is more than just another part of the daily routine. Your children will learn to pray from listening to you pray.
- Make a prayer list – When your child is old enough to understand the concept of making lists you may want to make prayer lists so they learn to pray for specific things. Make sure you include things for which to be grateful on the list.
- Keep a prayer journal – For older children it is good to keep a prayer journal so they can keep track of their prayers. You may want to lead by example and keep your own prayer journal
- Point out answered prayers – Even when children are small it is good to show them how their prayers are being answered. If little Johnny prays for a bike and you end up getting him a bike later on, don’t assume it’s not answered prayer just because you bought it for him. You were blessed to have the wherewithal and motivation to get the bike. Even without knowing it many times we are the vehicles used to answer the prayers of others.
- Give thanks – Too often we forget to send up prayers of thanksgiving. Teach your child to offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise for answered and pending prayers.
When you teach your child to pray early on you are instilling a value of spirituality that will last a lifetime. You are also giving them a tool for survival in a world that doesn’t always make sense. Sharing your prayer life with your child helps them understand that we all have access to something bigger than ourselves to help us though this crazy journey we call life.
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