Praying at Home with Young Children

By Rachael O'Shea

It’s hard enough getting kids to Mass at the best of times. Encouraging (bribing, threatening…) them to sit quietly and pay attention. Now we have to try and do that when all of their toys are just in the next room?

That sounds impossible! Take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone- many parents are facing the same task.

We are so fortunate to be living in a time where there are a variety of resources available, and Mass is telecast into our homes on the nearest screen. It’s not quite the same as being in the physical pressence of Our Lord at Church, but what a great opportunity COVID19 has given us to bring Christ more substantially into our household.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose the best time for your family when you can all be present and attentive. This might be at your regular 9 am mass time or maybe after lunch when the littlest family members have their nap.
  • Set up a beautiful space. Clear any clutter (distraction) from the room and set up chairs or pillows in front of your screen. If your couch is on the cozy side, it may not be the best seat for paying attention. Ensure everyone has a seat and space to kneel.
  • Create an Altar under your screen to focus on. Involve younger family members in laying out the cloth (purple for Lent, white for Easter), place a candle, Crucifix and Bible open to that day’s gospel.
  • Tell your children the behaviour you expect of them, tell them how long your chosen Mass will go for and assure them that if they behave well they can have a reward afterwards (snuffing out the candle, jumping on the trampoline with dad etc)
  • Allow your children to offer suggestions (within reason). Our girls set up a choir of teddies and insisted on having a cup of tea after Mass!
  • Wait until everyone is still and quiet before beginning.
  • Remember that this is out of the norm for everybody, so be patient while the kids get used to the change.

Rather than live streaming mass with the whole family, we have chosen to create our own small liturgy of the word, for the children (all three under five years), as having the television on, automatically makes them less focussed. (You may like to use the audio recording that Holy Family offers each Sunday here). After our prayerful liturgy, the children complete an activity based on the day’s Gospel. Ideas for Holy Week activities can be found at and

Remember, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing badly. No matter how jumbled or un-holy your attempt at praying might feel, know that your efforts are seen not only by the Lord but also by your children. In months to come, they won’t remember the perfect explanation of the Gospel you gave or the funny word someone mispronounced. But they will remember that while the world was in crisis, their family kept faith in God and made Mass a priority.

Rachael O'Shea is a mother of three with a background in early childhood education. She has a passion for helping others to share their faith with Children