Teaching Kids about Ash Wednesday and Lent — Gospel-Centered Family
Teaching Kids about Ash Wednesday and Lent
Back in 2010, my friend Sam Luce was on a children's ministry road trip across the country with Kenny Conley. They stopped in Louisville and met Tony Kummer and me at Quill's Coffee. It was Ash Wednesday. I still had ashes on my forehead. It think it was a bit surreal for Sam—hailing from very Catholic upstate New York. I am not Catholic. I clarified that right away for Sam—probably just a bit uncomfortable in my own skin when he asked about the ashes. I'm a Baptist by confession, but I'm part of a church community that follows the church calendar. And, for that, I'm really thankful.
To know the seasons of the Christian year is to know the milestones of Jesus' earthly ministry—from the promise of his coming at Advent through his resurrection at Easter and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As Christians, we want our personal story to be shaped by his story. One way the universal church has practiced this historically is by letting Christ's life shape our time—not just at Christmas and Easter but throughout the year.
What is Lent?
To know the seasons of the Christian year is to know the milestones of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Lent is all about preparation. We prepare our hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter, those days that mark Christ's passion and then his victory over death. We experience the significance of holy week more when we're prepared for it by retracing Christ's journey to the cross. The season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter, lasting for 40 days (not counting Sundays). Each day of Lent symbolizes one of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness before Satan tempted him. During Lent, Christians fast from something that can pull our minds way from Christ (TV, social media, chocolate, etc.). The goal is to fill the void with an invigorated prayer life and increased reflection on God's holiness, our sin, and Christ's perfect obedience even unto death.
What is Ash Wednesday?
“Dust you are, and to dust you will return.”
— Genesis 3:19b
On Ash Wednesday, we acknowledge that no one gets out of this world alive. Those who gather around the world for Ash Wednesday services receive a sign of the cross on their foreheads from ashes (usually made from the palms used on Palm Sunday the previous year). This mark is a reminder of our mortality--we are all going to die--and a call for repentance. The person who gives the signs says over you,
"Dust you are, and to dust you will return" (Genesis 3:19b)
Lent with Kids
As I've reflected about on how to pass the practice of the church calendar on to my children. Here are two brief thoughts.
This is an opportunity for a parent to intentionally pass on the truth that life is but a breath
First, I think it's really appropriate for kids to receive ashes during an Ash Wednesday service. We wait until after kids are trusting Christ and give a faithful confession to baptize them and allow them to take communion. But there is nothing about the Ash Wednesday service that needs to be reserved until kids are converted. It's good to have sober conversations with children about life and death. The sage teaches us, "It is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party, because death is the destiny of everyone. T he living should take this to heart" (Ecclesiastes 7:2). The goal isn't to scare kids out of Hell in some manipulative way. But I believe Ash Wednesday provides an incredible teaching moment for kids. Particularly for a child with a more reflective temperament, this is an opportunity for a parent to intentionally pass on the truth that life is but a breath.
Second, Lent gives your family an entire forty day season to remember Jesus is best. We fill our busy lives with candy, toys, sports, extra curricular activities, video games, television--you name it. During Lent, we remember the happiness we find in those things is temporary. Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). Every toy your child has will one day lie in a junk yard. The treasure of this earth makes us happy, but that happiness is temporary. During Lent we stop filling our lives with temporary happiness and make more room for Jesus.
Consider fasting as an entire family during Lent this year. When you do so, don't just give up something. Also, be intentional about adding a practice, a new affection like serving at church together or volunteering at a local non-profit, to help set your family's heart on God instead of the thing you are giving up. One great resource we've used to teach about Lent with our kids is an old episode of Adventures in Odyssey from Focus on the Family (Episode #152: The Meaning of Sacrifice) that explains the purpose of Lent and the practice of fasting as a family in a way with which our kids have really connected.
Are you planning to celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent with your family? What practices have been helpful for you?
Some portions of this post were adapted from the 2015 Sojourn Church calendar devotional written by Daniel Montgomery and Bobby Gilles.
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Jared is the husband of Megan and father to Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as an editor at The Gospel Coalition and as an adjunct instructor at Boyce College. He is the author of a number of books and resources for children and adults including The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible and Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission. You can follow him on Twitter at @jaredskennedy
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Lent Facts for Kids
Kids Encyclopedia Facts
A cross is covered with a veil during Passiontide in Lent (Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Tannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany).
Lent, in the Christian tradition, is a period of about six weeks before Easter. It is a time in which Christians are supposed to be quiet and thoughtful, preparing themselves for Easter. They should pray a lot, give money to charities and give up some of the things they might otherwise do for pleasure. The period of Lent ends at Easter, which is a time of great celebration as the Christians think of how Jesus had died on the cross but then rose again from the dead.
Lent is traditionally supposed to be forty days long. That is because the Bible says that Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, preparing for his death and resurrection.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In the Catholic Church, it ends at the Ninth Hour of Maundy Thursday (44 days). In The Anglican Catholic Church, it ends on Holy Saturday (46 days).
Churches in the Byzantine tradition (for example, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic) count the days of Lent differently. There are also different local traditions in the Oriental Orthodox church.
Lent is traditionally a time for fasting (not eating much). This tradition was useful because it was a time when food which had been kept for the winter had to be eaten up before it went bad. Many Roman Catholics do not eat meat other than fish on Fridays during Lent.
The word "lent" came from the Old English lencten meaning "spring" (the season).
Eastern Orthodox Church: Fasting
Images for kids
Lent observers, including a confraternity of penitents, carrying out a street procession during Holy Week, in Granada, Nicaragua. The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment. Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in other Christian countries, sometimes associated with fasting.
In Western traditions, the liturgical colour of the season of Lent is purple. Altar crosses and religious statuary which show Christ in his glory are traditionally veiled during this period in the Christian year.
In many Christian countries, religious processions during the season of Lent are often accompanied by a military escort both for security and parade. Ceuta, Spain
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (Jésus tenté dans le désert), James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum
Lenten suppers often consist of a vegetarian soup, bread, and water in order to maintain the season's focus on abstinence, sacrifice, and simplicity.
The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, most notably by the public imposition of ashes. In this photograph, a woman receives a cross of ashes on Ash Wednesday outside an Anglican church.
A Lutheran pastor distributes ashes during the Divine Service on Ash Wednesday.
A Methodist minister prostrates at the start of the Good Friday liturgy at Holy Family Church, in accordance with the rubrics in the Book of Worship. The processional cross is veiled in black, the liturgical colour associated with Good Friday in Methodist Churches.
Statues and icons veiled in violet shrouds for Passiontide in St Pancras Church, Ipswich, England
The chancel of a Lutheran church decorated with red paraments, the liturgical colour of the last week of Lent, Holy Week, in the Lutheran and Anglican Churches
A Methodist minister distributing ashes to confirmands kneeling at the chancel rails on Ash Wednesday
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Old Jerusalem on Golgotha, Mount Calvary, where tradition claims Jesus was crucified and died
All content from Kiddle encyclopedia articles (including the article images and facts) can be freely used under Attribution-ShareAlike license, unless stated otherwise. Cite this article:
Lent Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.
12 ways to explain to a child that he is wrong
Of course, we love our children, but this does not negate the fact that sometimes they get on our nerves. They can be moody or come home with terrible grades in their diary. And sometimes parents just need to convey their thoughts to them, talk with them about what needs to be corrected in their behavior. We are all people, and even adults are sometimes overwhelmed by emotions that turn into carelessly thrown phrases that can not only offend a child, but become the culprits of his complexes, ideas about his own insolvency and dislike of parents. Sometimes we don't even realize the damage our words can do.
As Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician, mother and author of six parenting books, says, the language we use to communicate with a child is paramount: not worth it at all. I always try to approach things from a child's point of view. What does the child see, what does the child hear, what does the child extract from it?
One of the most common phrases that parents say to their children, according to Meeker, is: "You drive me crazy" . Perhaps, in certain situations, each of us at least once in his life uttered these words. But, told to a child, they can have the most devastating consequences. Even if at some point your child stops listening to you, starts screaming and jumping loudly when you want to relax, crying in line at the store, or whimpering and refusing to get dressed when you urgently need to take him to kindergarten, try to inform him about their emotions in the right way.
There is another phrase that seems to parents to be softer, but in essence is no different from the above: "I love you, but now I don't like you" . "It's the same way of saying, 'You're driving me crazy,'" says Dr. Meeker. “The child understands it this way: you really don’t love me. ”
Do not forget that it is from parents that children learn what love and self-esteem are.
And if a child becomes entrenched in the idea that his mom and dad don't appreciate him, don't care about him, then this can have a long-term negative effect on him. It would seem that one phrase, but the harm is colossal.
The way a parent communicates with their child is critical to the child's development. If the example that dad and mom show to children is negative, then they will learn from it (for lack of another). "I think parents don't realize the effect their behavior has on their children," says Dr. Meeker. - Of course, children begin to imitate them. If a parent screams, then the child also becomes a habit. If a parent constantly criticizes a child, then the child begins to criticize first himself, and then everyone around him. While this may seem like an exaggeration to some, parents should remember that they are the ones shaping and guiding their children. These children eventually grow up and become adults.
How can you tell your child about your feelings and emotions, or ask him for something in a way that will benefit, not harm?
One of the most important pieces of advice given by child psychologists is this: try to eliminate negatives from advice or requests addressed to children.
They are sure that phrases beginning with the preposition “not” or the word “not” are perceived by children very hard. The thing is that a small child has to deal with double processing of information. That is, when you say the phrase “you can’t do it,” the child learns it and waits for the continuation of the phrase about what you can do. And he shouldn't. Therefore, all prohibitions must be expressed in a positive way. That is, instead of focusing on the unresolved, say something that you have nothing against.
Thus, the usual phrases (“don't argue with me”, “you can't shout so loudly here” and many others) should be modified so that the child understands you correctly and takes the information into account. What other popular parenting tips and requests need to be worded differently?
Do not shout
The child may not hear himself from the outside and may not know that he is speaking loudly. Sometimes it's enough just to talk about it. The correct analogue of this phrase could be: "Please speak a little quieter" . If you add a reason for your request (for example, "because mom has a headache"), you will achieve a better effect.
As a rule, this phrase is said in order to protect one's personal belongings from children's encroachments or in order to protect a child from the negative impact of a dangerous object. If you thus forbid the baby to delve into your jewelry box, these words will remain for him from the category of incomprehensible: “Why is it possible for my mother, but not for me?”. If this is an attempt to prevent the child from getting burned on a hot iron, then it will also not be very fruitful. Suppose this time the baby, frightened by the loud sound of your voice, removes his hand. But this will not prevent such cases in the future, because for a child an iron is one object, and it does not matter if it is cold or hot.
How then to tell children that certain objects should not be touched? Until a certain period, until the child can understand the cause-and-effect relationship, it is better to secure the house on your own: remove dangerous objects, close sockets. If it annoys you that he takes your makeup, just don't leave it where he can get it. After 4-5 years, it is worth explaining in detail to your child what exactly you should not do in order to avoid bad consequences. Some psychologists advise to replace the word "impossible" with "dangerous" - in this situation it is more informative.
This request is likely to confuse the child because he sees other children running outside and doesn't understand why he can't do the same at home. If you calmly explain to him why you do not want him to behave in this way, he will listen to you. The phrase "please go home calmly" will convey the essence of your request much better.
The phrase "don't lie" sounds threatening in itself, doesn't it? Moreover, it is practically useless. If a child does not want to tell the truth to his parents, then he obviously has his own reasons for this, which are worth paying attention to wiser adults. If children know that they will be punished for what they have done, will they want to be honest? The child will not lie to you out of spite. If a daughter used a calculator to solve problems, it was not because she wanted to upset mom and dad. Instead of scolding her, do some math with her and explain an incomprehensible topic.
When you need to know the truth, it pays to be diplomatic and refrain from impulsive threats. For example, if you want to understand if your son was involved in a school fight, then you don’t need to ask him about it directly (realizing in advance that it’s easier for him to answer “no”), and then immediately accuse him of lying. Some things are difficult for our children to say out loud, the task of adults is to help, while maintaining trust, and not to hurt or offend. Try starting a conversation like this: “I wanted to ask you about this… You may not answer me right away, because I understand that the situation is not easy. Whatever it was, you know that I still love you and it is very important to me that we can trust each other " .
It is also worth remembering that children are always guided by their parent's example. If older family members periodically catch each other in "little lies", why should a child tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
Don't get dirty
A child under a certain age does not see the difference between clean and dirty clothes. Doing the usual thing, playing in the sandbox, for example, he can be awkward and do everything sloppy, because he is passionate about the process. If you explain everything to him calmly, then next time he will try very hard not to upset his mother, who is proud of him. Instead of scolding for uncleanliness, try to focus the child's attention on the positive side of the issue: “Being clean is beautiful. I love it when you're clean. So please be careful next time.” .
Do not scatter toys
This prohibition is essentially meaningless. How many children have you seen who, during the game, would not make at least a little mess around them? Or could you cook dinner for the family yourself and not stain any of the cutlery, dishes or pots? Of course no. Therefore, first of all, you yourself should be more calm about this collateral damage of children's games. Gradually, you can teach your child to be independent: turn the process of cleaning toys into a game and invite him to join it.
Don't be stupid
A child may decide that he is stupid without even knowing the true meaning of this word, but at an older age, this can develop into a complex. After all, with these words you give an assessment of his mental activity. If you want to point out to your child more reasonable behavior in the current situation, do it with a different wording: “You are very smart, let's try to do it like this” .
Mind your own business
A child can be very offended by being ignored. He will continue to intervene because he will no doubt be hurt by the unfairness of the situation. If you and your husband are having an important conversation, and the children only distract from it, explain to them: “Your opinion is very important for me and dad, but now we are discussing boring work / uninteresting household issues. Maybe you'll play Lego or watch a cartoon for a while? As soon as we are free, we will play with you together.” . It is very important to find something else for your child to do while you are doing your own thing. If your baby is at a very young age, then sometimes you have to adjust your plans to suit his needs - a prudent offer to arrange your leisure time yourself will not help here. If he is very tired, then it is better to put him to bed, and then discuss the utility bills for the past month with her husband.
Do not eat so many sweets
The child does not understand that if you eat a lot of sweets, it will negatively affect your health. Sweet is delicious, and therefore it is difficult to stop. Try to negotiate with him in a different way: “If you eat all the marmalade at one time, then there will be nothing left for tomorrow. Shall we divide it into two (or more) servings?” . If he knows that the supply of sweets is not endless, he will want to prolong the pleasure.
Do not argue
It is useless to argue with an adult who does not understand you, just as it is useless to argue with a child. If you give an ultimatum: "We're not going anywhere until you put on your hat - and don't argue with me," then you put the child in a position without the right to vote. And this is not liked by all people, regardless of their age. If a child feels that his opinion and desires are not listened to at all, then he not only becomes convinced that everything in this world is decided by strength and power, but also loses the opportunity to build trusting relationships with you, as well as acquire communication skills necessary for adult life . Encourage him to look for solutions that suit both him and you: "You don't want to wear the blue hat because you don't like it? How about a red hat with a picture of Spider-Man? .
Or, for example, there are situations when the child really wants to take a longer walk, and you need to get home as soon as possible and cook dinner. Instead of saying, "We're going home now, period," describe the situation to your son or daughter in detail: "I understand how much you want to go out and the weather is wonderful today. But I need to have time to cook dinner before my dad comes home from work. Can you imagine how upset our beloved dad will be if he comes home tired and does not find something to eat? Come on, will you help me cook dinner today, and tomorrow we will come to this hill in the morning?” .
If the child is upset or physically uncomfortable about something, give him the opportunity to tell you about it. Without knowing it, he wants to be pitied, and if he does not achieve the goal, then he only increases his efforts. Pay attention to what is bothering him and offer to try to solve this problem together.
Don't put dirty hands in your mouth
Don't yell and - even worse - hit the child's hands. How can he know that taking dirt in his mouth is harmful? If you are afraid for the health of the child, then approach this issue in a playful way. For example, teach him a poem about the dangers of dirty objects.
And never forget that we, the parents, are the main role models for our children.
“Parents need to understand that their children are always watching them,” Dr. Meeker concludes. “Children don’t really know who they are and what their personality is, what they should believe or even feel. Therefore, they are constantly looking for clues as to what the parent thinks of them. When they receive such hints, they learn them - this is how their personality is formed.
Photo: Getty Images
Marie Claire Editorial
How do you explain the word “no” to a child?
How to raise a child?
How do you explain the word “no” to a child?
Over time, certain rules and prohibitions associated with the word “no” enter into the life of a small child. As the baby grows up, these prohibitions change, and if a very small child could not touch, for example, scissors, then when the baby grows up and acquires skills in handling this object, accordingly, the ban on it is lifted. In place of prohibitions that have lost their relevance, new prohibitions come, and the older the child becomes, the more restrictions are usually imposed on him. Accumulating, they significantly affect the behavior of the child, and consequently, his fate.
Parents often complain that the child does not understand the word “no”, and this, in turn, leads to such negative consequences as quarrels and scandals between the child and his parents.
In order to avoid such a situation, it is recommended to follow the simple rules of upbringing.
1. There should not be too many bans . Let the main “don’ts” concern only those objects and actions that can harm the life and health of the baby.
2. The ban must be permanent, regardless of the mood of the parents . In the event that today you forbid something to the baby, and tomorrow you allow it, the child will not perceive the ban.
Many parents classify “no” as a magic word that can immediately make a child silky and obedient. But that doesn't happen!
Of course, you should not expect that as soon as you say your first “no”, the child will immediately understand you and do everything the way you want. In order for the baby to begin to respond to prohibitions properly, parents will have to work hard, show maximum patience and consistency among themselves.
You can start such training in the following way: if you notice that the baby is approaching, for example, a gas stove, starts to twist its handles, take the baby in your arms, take him away from a dangerous object, while looking strictly into his eyes and expressively saying “you can’t ". By repeating these manipulations every time the child approaches the stove, after a while you will notice that the baby is already beginning to understand your prohibition, reacting directly to the word “no” itself, and you will not have to take him away from the stove every time. This rule can be applied to many situations!
Further, it should be taken into account that success in education depends largely on how coordinated the parents will act . In the event that mom forbids something, and dad allows it, the proper effect cannot be expected. The ban must be uniform, come from all members of the family in which the baby lives.
It is necessary to explain the word “no” to a child in a calm, even tone . In the event that, despite your prohibition, the child disobeyed, you need to talk with the baby, tell you what feelings the child’s act caused you, and also say what kind of behavior you expect from your crumbs.
At first glance, this seems difficult, but after some training you will notice that you can get the desired behavior from a child without resorting to physical pressure, screaming and scandals. Moreover, you will demonstrate to the baby not aggression, but normal, adequate behavior, which the child will subsequently learn from you.
Many parents, trying to forbid something to the child, begin to beat him on the hands every time the child approaches the forbidden “thing”. You can’t do this, because in this way you kill the child’s interest in exploring the world around him, in knowing it.