Today I spent sometime playing with my son in his room. He is 2 1/2 years old and getting his attention or to have him to sit still for a couple of minutes can prove to be a difficult task. I have been of late teaching him simple stuff when I get the time, things like; making the sign of the Cross, blessing himself before meals and kissing the Holy Icons and having him point out to me who is who in the icon.
I have been teaching him the Jesus prayer lately and we began with “Lord have mercy, Christ Have Mercy”. This afternoon I decided to actually introduce him to a little chotki/Komboskini of his own to pray with. I felt that perhaps its time to teach him the next part of the short form of the Jesus prayer seeing as he did so well with the first and kind of surprised me. He surprised me once again and he sat and he prayed “Jesus have mercy on me”.
However having him sit still was not easy and I don’t think he liked me as a teacher as I was horrible at teaching it to him and keeping his attention. So I decided to implement a new tactic. I pick up his teddy puppet and I pretend to be teddy and I talk in a high pitched….teddy kinda voice? Haha.
And it becomes teddy and daddy teaching him and being funny and fooling around at the same time. So playing the part of teddy I will say something like “So Christian, what’s that you got in your hand it looks really cool?” ” it’s a chotki ” replies Christian. “Uhh so what do you do with it?” “Pray” Christian says and then finally teddy asks him what exactly does he say while holding the chotki and Christian says “Jesus have mercy on me” and on it goes.
What I do then is we may play a game but before each game we have to bless ourselves and the pray the prayer before hand and it kept his attention all the way through I must say. Christian had fun and learned a lot at the same time. Teddy was a lifesaver.
I would recommend spending time with 2 year olds this age about 10 minutes max. Children this age no matter what tactics you employ will tend to get bored quite easily and if you force it they will just end up resenting having to learn about prayer in the end and all the good work your putting in will get destroyed. So keep it short and if your 2 year old gets agitated before the ten minutes are up or even 2 minutes into it, then let him or her go and try again the next day.
So get out your puppets because they are great tools for keeping the children’s attention.
No matter what ritual rite you belong to I cant recommend praying the Jesus prayer highly enough and the fact that a two year old can say it without hindrance or impediment of speech really does speak volumes of the prayers simplicity.
*high pitched teddy voice* buh byeeeee 🙂