The three traditional Catholic practices during Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Long term fasting during Lent can be difficult for very young children. Instead of giving up something for all of Lent they can give up something different each week. See some more ideas for Lenten fasting here.
Give Up Candy and Soda for Lent
Of course one of the most common things for young children to give up is sweets. So encourage them to give up candy and soda or some similar types of sweets.
It is also important that they understand why Catholics give things like candy and soda up during Lent:
- To learn how to control our own desires and our cravings for sweets
- To free up some money for almsgiving instead of spending it on candy and soda
- To be in solidarity with the poor who do not have candy and soda readily available
- To think about what Jesus gave up for us – His life
- To prepare ourselves for the joy of the celebration of Easter and all of those jelly beans and peeps!
So it is important that parents talk to young children about the reasons for giving something up also. If they don’t understand the meaning of fasting they might grow to resent it rather than embrace it.