“According to the Church’s Command, after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1457)
However, the Church encourages Catholics to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance at least monthly throughout our lifetime so that we can benefit from the graces obtained through reception of this sacrament.
This sacrament reconciles us with God and joins us to him in intimate friendship. It also reconciles us with the Church and revitalizes her life which we have weakened by our sin.
Children must be prepared simultaneously for the two sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist since the opportunity of receiving both according to the designated order begins at the same time. The universal law of the Church states that First Communion is to be preceded by sacramental confession (canon 914). Given that a child who has the idea of God, which is necessary for First Communion, could also grasp the concept of sin, priests, parents and catechists may not determine without proper consultation whether or not children may receive First Communion before First Reconciliation.
The basis for this preparation is not so much the state of sin in which a child may be but rather the formative and pastoral aim to educate to the true Christian spirit of penance and conversion, to growth in self-knowledge and self-control, to the sense of sin, to the necessity of asking for pardon from God and above all to a loving and confident abandonment to the mercy of the Lord. (Norms for Sacramental Preparation, Archdiocese of Toronto, 78, 80)