Grasping God

Introduce your preschooler to the God who made her

Q. I want my preschooler to know about God, but it's so hard to know what he can understand. What are the basics I should teach him right now?

A. As parents, we want so much for our children to know and love God that we often become anxious that we aren't doing enough to build a spiritual foundation in their lives. But in truth, our children are just beginning their journey of experiencing God. The Bible says there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), and that includes your child's ever-growing relationship with God.

Still, this is a wonderful time to help that relationship begin. Preschoolers are spiritual people and they are particularly open to the wonder and mystery of God. They are also at a stage where they are just discovering the concept of personhood, of recognizing that they are separate from you and can think and do things on their own. This helps them understand God as a real "person"—someone they can talk to, someone who cares about them.

One of the best ways to reinforce this concept of God is prayer. Prayer is about knowing and trusting God. It's engaging for children, readily connects to their interests and experiences, and can be learned and practiced in a variety of ways. Prayer also opens the door to all kinds of other conversations about God.

When you pray with your child, remind him that God is with us all the time and prayer is a way we can be with God whenever we want to be. Pray often and in a variety of places to show your child that prayer is not just something we do at bedtime or before meals. Pray in the sandbox, the bathtub, or in the car. Pray when your child feels afraid or when he's excited. Pray for other family members and friends.

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