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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

Toddler and preschool years

How to Raise Saints - Part 2

The toddler and preschool years of a child’s life are filled with curiosity and excitement. Children at this age are like little sponges soaking up knowledge, experiences and the wonder of the world around them. Since our kids don’t come with instruction manuals, here are some thoughts to help raise little saints during this phase.


Embrace the wonder

The natural curiosity of kids this age makes it the perfect time to focus on our beautiful faith. Use their “sponge-like” nature to teach prayers and stories of Bible heroes and saints. Forming habits of daily prayer and instilling Catholic values can really take root during these years. They may not be ready to understand the mystery of the Trinity, but they are ready to know about God and how important he is in our life.

Have an adventure

Kids this age love adventures and exploration. They love to figure things out and ask questions, so take them to a quiet church and let them explore. Let them get a close-up look at the sanctuary, the statues, side altars – any spot they are curious about and you can explain and teach. These little “field trips” lead to better behavior at Mass and nurture a sense of the peace and comfort offered to us in sacred spaces.

The greatest is love

In the Gospel we, as parents, learn the fundamental lesson for raising our children. We are taught that we are to love God with all our soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In these formative years, helping our kids see God’s love through the hundreds of ways he works in our days is life-changing. When we see how loved we are, that love spills out to others. Since kids at this age are so perceptive and observant, modeling is the most powerful tool we have.

Focus on virtues

Many skills and lessons fill this season such as potty-training and shoe tying, but be sure to focus on the saintly skills too. Virtues such as honesty, generosity, obedience, forgiveness and patience are what help our kids become great humans and great saints.


The kind of gratitude that helps us grow in holiness goes beyond teaching our kids to say thank you for the cookie. Scripture reminds us that everything is a gift from God, and living out that kind of gratitude changes us. Conversations that include, “What great things did God do today?” or “Thank you God for making/helping me … ” are great ways to think bigger and build humility.

Holy vs. worldly

As parents, we know there is no shortage of advice. Sometimes we seek it out and sometimes it hits our ears unsolicited, and it can make a tough job even tougher. But the filter for all of this boils down to a simple question: “Will this help my child grow in holiness?” Even in this early phase of life, our first priority is our children’s sainthood, and the best place to balance out the many voices they hear is prayer. God created our children with a perfect plan in mind, and we owe it to them to consult the Creator often to make sure we’re on the right path.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, grandma, speaker and writer. Catch her blog at

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