Lenten Spiritual Growth for Kids

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How will not eating candy during Lent make me less reckless? one of my kids asked last night as they were all either finishing up the last of their Valentine’s candy stash or packing it away for Lent.

A few nights ago N. asked each of the four big kids to identify one of their strengths and one of their weaknesses to work on for Lent. The strength needed to be a virtue that came easily for them, not a talent like running fast or writing well.

We did this at the dinner table, and everyone got a chance to name what they thought the others’ virtues are. Without identifying each child, I’ll say the virtues they came up with for each other were diligence, friendship, quick obedience, and thoughtfulness.

We talked about how your temperament makes some virtues come easily, but when you are aware of your strengths you can try to practice them consciously out of love rather than just automatically because of your personality.

Then the vices–this was done privately with Dad. The vices you tend towards are usually the flip side of your personality. Our kids came up with hitting, yelling, recklessness, and tattling.

Now here’s where giving up candy (or whatever) comes in. We told them that giving up candy doesn’t automatically help you improve your behavior. BUT, since it’s much easier to give up food than it is to give up sin, disciplining yourself to not eat candy on certain days helps to strengthen your willpower, which you need to overcome vices that have become bad habits.

ALSO, you can use giving up candy as an opportunity to pray for help in becoming a better person. Every time you would normally eat a piece of candy, say a prayer to God to help you stop your habitual sin.

It always warms my heart when very young children offer to make little sacrifices for Lent, like offering their allowance or candy to give to the poor. But once they’ve reached the age of reason, kids are ready to use the practice of sacrifice to exercise their spiritual muscles and grow in holiness.

I hope everyone has a very blessed Lent!

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3 thoughts on “Lenten Spiritual Growth for Kids

  1. This is a great explanation! I’m pretty sure our kids still don’t totally “get” the sacrifices we’re making – they’re not quite old enough to choose their own sacrifices yet, so I’ll be filing this away for next year or the year after!

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