J.M. asks from Glenshaw, PA on August 05, 2007
Behavior in Church - Glenshaw,PA
My husband was in a golf tournament this am and I took my 3 yr old to church by myself.
I had snacks, juice, and pencil / paper activity...it occupied him for about 25 mins, and then his behavior when nuts. He would not use volume control with his voice, drew on the pew with his pencil, even after I told him to keep it on the paper, stomped his feet to make loud sounds, etc...I took him out twice and made him sit on the naughty steps.
They were having a social cookie hour after the service, but after the third time of naughty behavior, I took him from the church, told him he was not permitted to participate in the party, and we went home. He screamed and cried the entire time that he wanted to go back and be a good boy. However, I took him straight home.
Our service was incredibly long today...almost two hours if I would have stayed. I don't like using the nursery because I want him to sit with me and learn how to act in church. I know it is a lot to expect at this age...to sit quietly for 90 mins. Any ideas of what to occupy a three yr old with in church?
We have talked all day today about good behavior in church with my son. He seems to get it, and made an extra effort today being good, ecspecially at meal time.
I want to go to chuch each wk with my family, but it was very challenging today.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have!
H.C. answers from Pittsburgh on August 06, 2007
A little about me Im a sahm and my husband works mid nights and I go to church practically every Sunday,I have a now 4 year old daughter and take her with me so hubby can sleep. I'v tried practically everything with her so I totally understand.Here is a few suggetions Trace his hand and then tell him to make a animal from that take a few of his favorite books. Do they have what we call toodler time at your church? If not maybe you could see if they would be willing to start a group for the little ones that are in that transition from nursery to school age. Not sure if that will help but I will keep you in my prayers God Bless.
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on August 06, 2007
I think with your son only being 3 years old you are going to have to make a compromise. I know you would rather he be with you, but making him do something that he isn't capable of doing is going to frustrate both of you. Would you be willing to let him spend part of the time in the nursery? Can you not take him on the days the service is extended? I would also caution you about punishing him for not being able to sit still for 90 minutes in a place where there isn't much to hold his interest or for him to interact with. Try to put yourself in your son's shoes.
I think it is sometimes hard to know the difference between when a child is being naughty and when he is responding to a frustrating situation that he doesn't know how to handle. I think we sometimes put unrealistic expectations on our kids then get upset when they can't meet them. So in essence, we create difficult situations for them and then punish them for not acting appropriately. I am not saying that he doesn't need to learn proper behavior in church but perhaps at his age 20 or 30 minutes is all he can handle. Maybe at age 4 or 5 he will be able to attend the whole service.
In your bio you wrote the hardest thing about being a mom is...patience. You are not alone with that thought. But find some patience and give your son time to develop the skills and maturity he needs to be able to sit through a full church service. Until then, consider alternatives so you can both have a rewarding experience.
K.D. answers from Allentown on August 06, 2007
That was the best thing you could have done for your son, following thru with your word. I know it's incredibly hard for a 3 yr. old to sit sooo long and be quiet, especially when there's nothing that is geared towards his level of understanding. I have tried it both ways...having them sit in church and having them in the nursery. I have always liked the nursery because it gives something to my child in the way of bible stories at their level of understanding. And I benefit as I am able to sit and concentrate on the service and what our Pastor is saying. I started having my kids sit with us when they were older in elementary school. I don't think any kid at any age likes to sit thru church. My oldest is 13 and she still doesn't like sitting thru a sermon. :o)
That being said, I have had my children sit with us in church too at that young. What I've found is even at that young of age, they are testing you and the boundaries you set. They are seeing just how much they can get away with and what you will tolerate. And believe me, they know how to push your buttons and will go right up to the brink of what is acceptable behavior and then some. Little stinkers aren't they? LOL I have found with my kids, being firm in my word has always gotten their attention. Just saying no without consequences only makes matters more difficult for you and him. Be sure you do exactly what you say you will do if he doesn't behave. Example: leaving the party or not being able to do something special, etc. This will definitely get his attention and he will start to put two and two together as it were. Unfortunately we as Moms have to deal with the fallout, the crying, the pleading, the tantrums, etc. It might take a couple of times of consequences for his behavior( Be sure to have tylenol on hand for your headache...LOL )before he'll learn.
As for ideas of keeping him quiet...I've brought puzzles along to church for my kids and books that do things...pop up or show how to tie a shoe kinds of things, coloring books. I've even brought a few little small NON Sound making toys to keep them occupied. Or when I am desperate sometimes letting them go thru my purse and discover what's in there works. Again, it's not my favorite thing as picking up the contents of my purse after church is no fun. LOL Hope that helps a little!
J.B. answers from Allentown on August 05, 2007
I think learning to sit through a religous service is very hard for a young child. I can remember being in Temple, seeing parents struggle to keep their children quiet during services.
Only you know your child and know how long he is capable of sitting through a service. I don't think it's unrealistic to take him out or take breaks after a certain amount of time. I know some parents who wait until their child is at least 5 years old before taking them to any religious service. Does your church offer any type of children's service? Or does the nursery staff do anything with the children during the services when the parents are attending them? Perhaps you should talk with your Religous leader or Religious school leader about the possibility of incorporating a childrens service while the children are in the nursery, so they won't be missing out completely?
T.S. answers from Pittsburgh on August 06, 2007
I would think that there was a problem if your 3 year old was able to sit through a church service. 2 hours! Are you kidding me? Maybe you should sit down and play with your childs toys like 3 yr old for 2 hours and see how long you last. I know it sounds harsh and I apologize for that but, come on?
N. answers from Lancaster on August 06, 2007
Just keep at it. I have a 2.5 year old and my husband never goes to church. For a while we were walking out of the service at least 5 times each Sunday! It's really embarrassing but you have to just suck it up for a few weeks.
PS- this may not be what your going for, but on days when I think I can't deal with it, I coordinate service time close to nap time so that he'll be more mild. :)
A.T. answers from York on August 06, 2007
Hi, I'm sorry, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "I know it is a lot to expect at this age...to sit quietly for 90 minutes." I really think you should just take your son to the nursery, because it's basically impossible for him to be good for that long at his age. Even if he wants to be good and he understands that he needs to be good, he's not old enough to be able to control his impulses. So, maybe you could take him to the service with you for a small part of the time, but then take him to the nursery. It's unfair to expect him to be good for that long, and church can bore even the best adult! lol
S.R. answers from Erie on August 05, 2007
I also have a 3 year old and we attend church weekly. I'm not sure how your church works, but with our service, the first half is congregational singing and the choir sings and there is usually a time of prayer and church announcements. My daughter stays in the service for these, since they are pretty interactive and keep her attention. But once the preacher starts the actual sermon, I do take her down to the nursery. That way she does learn to sit and stay quiet for awhile (usually 45 minutes or so), but it's not so long that she totally loses control. And she knows that if she sits quietly upstairs, she gets a snack when she goes down to the nursery. But I do bring a coloring book, some stringing beads, and usually a stuffed animal or two (so she can "teach" them how to sit nice and quiet in church). Hope this helps.