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Question 246

Good evening Pater, i have had a problem with my 3 year old daughter since she was a baby. She never want Holy Communion. She cries & pulls away. We have held her down a few times & the priest has been patient with her to open her mouth or should I say force her mouth open. It's very traumatic for her & me! A couple of priest have just said don't force her & we've just walked by without communion. Do you have any tips on this as she is petrified now whenever we walk up to the priest......   

 

Answer to Question 246

 

You are not alone with this problem, many children are terrified of approaching for holy Communion. You do not say how often you have taken her for Communion since she was a baby, but if it was weekly she would have been accustomed to the priests and would not be afraid of them or of receiving holy Communion. When children are taken sporadically they donít know what to expect and probably associate holy communion with medication and become frightened in the same way they would with a doctor and bitter medicine. Forcing the child only verifies in their mind that it is something to be afraid off and traumatises the child and increases the fear.

 

Donít force the child; it is not the end of the world if she doesnít partake. Take her more regularly and let her walk by herself to the chalice and ask her if she wants to partake. If possible show her by partaking yourself that there is nothing to fear. It will take time but with patience and as she grows a little older she will become braver and will want herself to approach for Holy Communion.

 

I had a family with two children who were both autistic and would scream and fight when they were brought for communion. The parents were both traumatised by their childrenís reaction every time they approached and even thought that it was something evil. We never forced them but told them to try again after the service. After many tries the older eventually had enough trust in us and let us give him communion. The younger who was a girl took a few more months but now they both approach on their own with smiles on their faces. Give your daughter time, as she gets a little older and understands that there is nothing to fear she will also willingly approach on her own.