How do you do family devotions when your children are young so you’re not sure if it will even work or if everyone will just go crazy?
From a mom of four, I’m here to tell you that you CAN do a family devotional time with your toddler without losing your mind.
These three tips will absolutely help you be successful so you can give your young children a great foundation of faith.
When you have toddlers and young children, sometimes even the thought of doing devotions as a family is exhausting!
But as moms who wants to make God’s Word a priority, we realize that hard things are worth it.
Over eight years time and four babies, my husband and I have found a few ways to manage the chaos that seem to ensue the moment we attempt to gather everyone together for family devotions.
3 Tips for Doing Family Devotions with Toddlers and Young Children
I like to use alliteration because it helps me remember, so I give you the three “B”s of family devotions!
1. Keep it Biblical
There are many free resources on the internet that you can use for devotions, but not all of them are good or full of truth. Ask your pastor or children’s ministry director at your church or a trusted friend or family member for recommendations of Biblically accurate resources.
Otherwise you might end up like me, printing out a Scripture memory activity for my kids only to realize it was asking me to utilize verses from a non-Christian publication (I look more closely now!).
If you’d like some ideas for Bible storybooks that accurately portray Scripture, I’ve shared four Bible storybooks that are worth recommending and that we use in our devotional time!
2. Keep it Beneficial
Sometimes family devotional conversations can go down a rabbit trail. One night, we started out reading a passage from Job and ended up with the two older kids looking at the peeling skin on the five-year old’s feet (he was recovering from hand, foot and mouth disease). I mean, seriously, people? I giggle now thinking about it, but it sure took awhile to reign everybody back in–ha!
When you’re doing devotions, have a plan. Try to know what you’re going to talk about and some questions you can ask about the passage you read before you begin. This keeps people on task (most of the time!) and allows you to make family devotions a teachable time!
Remember too, though, that it’s completely to be expected that young children aren’t always sitting perfectly at attention.
Sometimes it helps me to give the littlest ones the animals from our Noah’s Ark Little People set to hold or play with which keeps their hands busy and also keeps them in the area where we are doing devotions.
A moving child is a learning child, so it’s ok if your toddlers don’t always sit still. They are still absorbing God’s Word!
3. Keep it Brief
With very young children, I truly believe that it’s not necessary to have an extremely long devotional time. It’s good to weave God’s Word and lessons about Jesus throughout your day and then tie things together by digging into the Scriptures in small batches.
If you do devotions in the morning, you can probably get by with a longer amount of time spent but because we currently do ours at night, our kids are less attentive. But we love to end our day with the Bible, so it works for us!
Aim to work up from five minutes’ time to ten or fifteen minutes (as your kids grow older, that is). You may find that it takes many tries to teach kids to sit, listen and participate.
Don’t expect too much or make it a time of frustration by getting upset with your kids for not paying attention.
I’ve made many mistakes in this area and I’m learning it’s always easier to have low expectations and keep the mood light.
Include music too! You can use an instrument, CD or just sing acapella! This is especially helpful for younger children!
Have older children too? Sometimes after the little ones bedtime we’ll do another devotional with our older two kids that is more tailored to their age or interests. You could also have them read devotions on their own separately after the family time (we currently use this resource with our 8 and 10 year old).
Since I’m home with my younger two kids, I can do Scripture memory time throughout the day with them, but it’s certainly fine if they’re simply integrated into the family devotions!
Praying With Your Toddler or Young Child
At the end of family devotions, we always take time to pray. Start praying with your toddler in this very simple way:
- Say something like, “let’s squeeze our eyes closed and fold our hands together and talk to God”. Giving them very specific actions is helpful.
- Let them repeat after you by opening a prayer with “Dear Jesus”, or something similar.
- Pray using simple words and requests, thanking and praising God. See if your toddler or young children want to add anything. If not, that’s ok! Just go ahead and finish the prayer, encouraging them to say “Amen!” enthusiastically.
Why Are Family Devotions Important?
Doing devotions with your kids is essential because as you start praying with your toddler, select a Bible story and read a Scripture or devotional book together, it becomes an expected and joyful routine that they can get excited about every day!
Family devotions are also an important part of equipping our children with a strong faith so they can live their lives in a way that brings glory to God.
Spending time learning about God and what He says in the Bible moves our spiritual life beyond a Sunday morning in the church pew to a vibrant, active faith.
Doing a family devotional helps even our littlest children connect the Word to real life.
And for our family, we also believe that spending time with them in devotion is one way to demonstrate your love for them and your desire for them to grow in their faith. It shows that the Bible is a priority in our own life.
Don’t Be Discouraged!
If you’re feeling discouraged about family devotions, don’t give up! Your children are learning, even if it feels like everything goes in one ear and out the other. There’s less craziness to be found eventually, and implementing these three tips can help. Praying for a calm and receptive spirit in your children is so helpful too.
As you cultivate the habit of having family devotions, your kids will become used to gathering during that time, resulting in less chaos and more Christian growth.
Looking for specific ideas to get you started?
Read my 4 more tips for starting family devotions with your kids for specific ideas on what materials to use (it’s in the video at the end).