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How to Encourage Children to Give Up Something For Lent

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published February 25th 2014
40 Days of Abstinence or 40 Days of Fun
None of are ever keen on the idea of giving up something we enjoy, and to suggest to a child that they should give up something they like for forty days is probably not going to met with the greatest of enthusiasm.

If you want to encourage your children to take part in Lent, then here are some idea on how to make it an enjoyable experience rather than one of hardship.

1. Tell the Story

Just telling a child that they should give something up for forty days isn't really going to cut it. Understandably, the first words past their lips is probably going to be 'why?' It's a fair enough question. None of us like to be told to do something without an explanation.

Tell your kids the story of Lent and why we take part in it. Not only does this explain the reasoning it behind Lent, but children love stories. Try to make the story as interesting as possible. Get a picture book, get them to draw scenes from the Resurrection.

2. Expand their Understanding

Forty is a recurring number in the bible. Why not show them the other passages where forty days shows up. Read one to them each day so that they gain a greater appreciation. Why not get them to draw a timeline of Jesus in the desert, being tempted by the Devil? Get them to make cutouts of Jesus, which they can move each day, to show his progress. It is an effective countdown tool.

3. Easter Calendar

Make the equivalent of an Advent Calendar. The difference here is, that instead of a chocolate each day, they get 1 to put into a jar (as long as they stick to Lent). On Easter day they will have 40 to buy themselves something nice.

4. Special Easter Egg

easter egg, lion bar, nestle, easter, chocolate

Promise to buy them an extra big Easter egg if they stick to Lent.

5. Positive Reinforcement

You don't necessarily have to buy presents to encourage children. Children gain a lot of confidence and self respect when they are told how well they are doing. For every day that they succeed, give them a gold star. Write out a certificate saying that they have completed Lent.

6. Join in

There is no point getting the kids to give up something if you don't yourself. Show them that you are all in it together, and encourage each other to keep going.

7. Take up Rather than Give up

apricot tart
Bake with the kids

Giving up sweets, video games, and bad behaviour can sound rather negative. Instead turn it into a positive by having children take up or something new or swapping things around. For example, if they are playing computer games all day long, swap them for family board games or days out to the park. Instead of eating lots of sweets, get them in the kitchen cooking up healthy snacks or tasty deserts. And instead of saying they have to give up tantrums, give them the task of doing a good deed a day.

8. Easter Party

Celebrate their achievement on Easter with a party. It can be just the family, or you can invite round friends, or hold an Easter Egg Hunt.

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Why? Make giving things up for Lent fun
When: Lent
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