29 answers

How Do I Keep Children Quiet During Church Services?

How do I keep a 5 year old and 4 year old quiet during church, there is no crying room and I really would like them to attend but they play off each other and I am not used to taking them alone but now I have to. They have trouble sitting still.

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Be patient with them. As long as they are not climbing
all over the pew its OK. Just keep re-enforcing where
they are and the need to be quiet or if they need to talk,
speak softly. All kids tend to cut up when they should
be quiet, even teenagers!!!!!! Good luck.

I had to sit between both my boys and also give in and allow them to draw or just sit there untill they both realized we are going to be doing this every week and when that happened they wanted to be the loudest singers.(oh my I wished they would still draw. hahaha)

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I had to sit between both my boys and also give in and allow them to draw or just sit there untill they both realized we are going to be doing this every week and when that happened they wanted to be the loudest singers.(oh my I wished they would still draw. hahaha)

D.-

I have a 6 & 5 year old, so I can completely relate to what you are saying about them feeding off each other during church! We have had that issue (and occasionally still do). I found having a bag of books that were JUST for during church seemed to work well...I had those I SPY types of books, but the Disney ones (since that what my kids are into). They have to find all sorts of hidden pictures. I know that the best solution would be that they would pay attention to mass, but I have found that is just starting to happen with my 6 year old now...up until now, no luck! I also had an activity book with one crayon that they could do mazes in or dot to dots. Hope that helps. With the special books being only for church, it seemed to make them more appealing...and I sat the kids one on each side of me!

I'm sorry to hear about your loss. My heart goes out to you.
With children that age, a great thing to try would be to play church at home. Try to set it all up, and maybe even enlist a friend who has the same problem to make it a larger "congregation". Start out including a rule of sitting quietly for maybe 5 minutes, rewarding them somehow afterwards. Stretch out the time by 5 minutes each time you play. Also, they are old enough to learn the reason why they need to be quiet at church - to be respectful of those around them who are worshiping (and to begin learning to worhip God themselves).
We have been attending a non-denominational "mega-church" for almost three years now, but when we first started having kids, we attended a lutheran church, which was very traditional. The Lutheran church was not kids or family friendly, and we got tired of having to take the kids out of the santuary, and began to feel like we weren't getting the chance to worship or nourish our souls. Finding a church that had an AWESOME choldrens program - from birth - 12 th grade - was an amazing blessing. Some weeks it is the only break we get. I imagine you could use that as well. Maybe it's time to seek a new one out. I'll pray for you - God bless!

Hi D.. I agree with many of the already mentioned options. However, I wanted to ask a difficult question. You said that you're not used to taking them alone - which makes me feel like you used to go as a family with your husband. Are they acting up more now than they used to? Is this the same church they are used to or a new one? Perhaps church is one of the many places your children are remembering their father - and don't know how to communicate that.
Regardless if that is the case, without using guilt, I think you can communicate to them that it's hard for you to listen and participate in church if you have to keep disciplining them. Enlist their help and engage them in the best way you can.
I would expect any 4 and 5 year old to have a hard time being quiet and sitting still during church - just as it is still hard for them to do at school - and that's when everything is child-focused! Maybe on the way to church think about one thing you want them to focus on. It could be a part of the service, a word, something in the church. They can count how many times it's mentioned, draw a picture of it, or just pay attention to the sequencing (first this happened, then this). On the way home from church, you could discuss it.
Also, at their age, church feels like it lasts forEVER. Try to break it up for them. Don't lay out all that you brought for them. Space it in 5,10,15 minute intervals. Give them a quiet snack in the middle. You can whisper to them some transitions so they can be more aware (Remember, 2 songs and then we pray.) Give constant positive feedback - smile, thumbs up, a little tossle of the hair goes a long way in keeping up their church stamina.
Also, I would try to get them to do some physical activity before and after church - even if it's just a quick "Shake out the sillies" or walk to the bathroom. Also, let them get their voice out. Before you get out of the car, have them shout, sing a song, talk in normal voice, and then whisper. Do your best to keep it positive and fun - so that they'll do their best.
Blessings to you.

Hello D.. You NEED to be able to attend church services because you NEED the support of your faith community. My first thought is that you sit in between your two children so they are not able to "play off" of one another. The second thought is that you tell them they are "big" now, and they, as much as you, need to be attentive in church and to see the support of the others in church. BUT if these things are impossible, perhaps you could "team up" with another parent or two and ask that you trade off time with the children so that one week you would supervise in a room off of the main sanctuary, and the next week they would do the same for your children and theirs.
Finally, you should talk with your pastor and/or the pastor's wife, depending on how involved she is with your church's ministry. There should be some understanding that you want to be active and present in services but you need some help with your children. The church I work for (I am a church secretary, but my dh & I attend another church) has "Children's Thoughts" after the initial singing and prayers - sort of like a children's sermon - 3 to 5 minutes - then the children, from ages 3 thru 6th grade, are dismissed to Junior Church. There is a schedule of those who do Junior Church each week, and obviously, the bigger your list, the less often each volunteer needs to serve.
Hope that helps! I am sorry that you have been widowed. That has to be extremely difficult with children as young as you have.
K. in the southern tier of NYS - deer & wild turkey country!

This is going to sound totally opposite of what you think you should do, but it works for my 5 kids.

Don't bring anything for them to do!!! Toys, games, snacks create noise...either from them using it or fighting over it!! Even crayons and coloring books were fought over with my kids and I just had to eliminate them!

Sit on the very front row so that they can see who is speaking, singing, playing instruments, etc. This way, they can only look forward and not be distracted by other's heads or other's kids.

Don't take them out of the meeting if it can be helped. Do bathroom and drinks right before the meeting. If they are making noise and you must get up, go to the side or back of the room and stand with them to calm them down, but don't take them out unless they are screaming their heads off! Just the standing up will help them.

And, they may be a little too young for this one, but I tell my kids if they don't sit still and stay quiet for the meeting, they will keep sitting after the meeting and everyone is leaving. So, every time I have to break up talking or teasing, etc. I just say to them "5 minutes". They know that they must sit for 5 minutes after the meeting is over. If they mess up again, I add another 5 minutes. It usually only takes once for me to say it.

Lastly, since youre all alone, ask someone to help you. A grandmother or grandfather in your congregation or even a teen could do it as a service (I know boy/girl scouts need to do service hours for their projects/badges). I know it's hard to ask for help, but I'm sure there is someone who will understand your situation and would gladly help.

The key is to "stick to your guns"....be consistant or they won't take you seriously. It probably will be torture for the first few times, but they will get the hang of it. Good luck!...and God bless!

It is great that you are taking your children to church. I face the same challenge weekly as I am the church pianist and my children, ages 4 and 6, are often sitting alone. They like mazes, dot-to-dot. The etch-a-sketch and magnetic drawing boards are nice and quiet, and small and easy to transport. Highlights has a hidden picture magazine subscription where the stickers are placed on the hidden pictures - they love that. I Spy books are great, too. If I know that it is likely to be a long service or they are just having an "antsy" day, I might tell them we will do something fun like get ice cream, play putt-putt or something else fun as a reward after...and remind them of that as needed during the service :)

D.,

Good for you for even trying! It is so hard to deal with little ones in church. Try to enter churchh with no expectations. If they are good, that's great, but they may not be. It's hard when you feel like everyone around you is looking at you & judging you, but hopefully you have a supportive parish, where people understand that you are doing your best. They should appreciate your efforts. Beside the obvious of bringing things like books to occupy them, I would ask your pastor/minister if there is a "child friendly" service. The church we go to has a 35 minute mass, so it's much easier for the kids to be successful. Best wishes! Peace, Julia

D.,

I need advice on the same subject, so I have nothing to offer in that respect. I am very sorry about your husband's passing and will keep you in my thoughts. Know that you and your children will always have a spiritual and strong connection with your husband. You will never be alone, though he is not here physically.
My sincere condolences, K.

Hello D.,

Little ones just are not made to sit still very long during an adult Church service. Does your church have a class for children their age?

IF not. You can sit each one on opposite sides of you. Give each of them a Soft Bible. IT is a great learning quiet time book, with lots of easy fun ways for the little ones to learn and be entertained during the service.
www.thelearningparent.com - sells them or you can make one of your own.

Blessings & Prayers,
E.~

Hi D.,
I want to start off by expressing my deepest condolences during this difficult time. I will pray for peace in your life and for your children.
My three children can't keep still in church either (8,6 & 4). I have the boy on one side, and the girls on the other--they're a little quieter, but get easily irritated by the boy. I bring little snacks to keep them busy (a sandwich bag of cheerios for each-ironically they're pretty neat with it-, and some juice boxes). The boy is old enough not to need toys in church, but I let the girls bring a teddy bear. I also sit near a door where I can escort them out without disturbing the service. I'll address whatever the issue is and bring them right back to the service. On occasion, I just had to leave altogether. This is a phase, and it too shall pass. The best solution would be to put them in Sunday school, if it's provided. No matter what, keep bringing them to church. It's their spiritual foundation. We need more children attending church.
God Bless You.
M.

First I am so sorry that you are going through a multitude of things in your life without your significant other. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be! I have an 8yo, 5yo and 10mo that I take solo to church. It is hard to keep them separated and quiet. With that said, I bring stickers and paper but during the mass I remind them to listen for what is coming next. For example, listen for the altar bells, tell me when you hear them, Let me know when you hear the priest say amen, only 2 more songs left etc... The other thing is with yard sale season approaching, you could pick up lots of quiet toys cheaply, put them into a bag and make this the church bag. These toys only come out at church and go back in when it is done. Then they aren't bored and know they only get these toys for a short time. Good Luck! Funny enough I remember that when I was a kid we went to the corner store for a paper and if we had been good, we got to pick out a lollypop. That bribery went a long way! C.

Hello D.,
I am glad to know that you are taking your children to church. My children were in church all of their lives and I can suggest a few ideas. There is a company that has children's bulletins. They are 85 cents each and each week is a new story. They are for kids ages 3-6 and 7-12.You can go to childrensBulletins.com So your kids can be excited about doing a fun Christian activity while in church. I also used to bring a snack, cheerios a box drink and wipes of course to clean it up.
There are lots of good churches that have children's church while parents are in church. That is a wonderful plan as well.
God bless you as you continue to serve the Lord.
M.

D.,

I'm so sorry for your loss. Now, more than ever, you need to be involved with your church. Try bringing some quiet toys, coloring books, religious children's books to church. If all else fails, try a little bribery. If they are quiet & sit still for most of the mass, take them to the park or someplace special they like. For awhile we were going to Saturday night services so we went for ice cream if mine behaved. When she was old enough she joined the children's choir. In my church they accept them as young as 4. She liked the mass better and didn't think it was so boring anymore. I wish you the best.

Be patient with them. As long as they are not climbing
all over the pew its OK. Just keep re-enforcing where
they are and the need to be quiet or if they need to talk,
speak softly. All kids tend to cut up when they should
be quiet, even teenagers!!!!!! Good luck.

I would always bring some paper, or coloring book pages, along with a box of crayons (or two, so they would each have their own) and have them color, quietly. If they were not quiet, I would take away the items. This would help keep them quiet and to not bother others around us. I often would have to take my two children alone to church, too. My two children, a girl and a boy, were/are 17 months apart. Over time, if you keep up with your attendance, the children become used to going. Keep up you efforts. God Bless you with his grace of patience and perseverance during this trying time of your life.

Hey D.,
Does your church offer Sunday school? Our church does and on a Sunday it is during the church service..If yours does not offer Sunday school I agree with the other posts so far...sit between them so that they cannot play off eachother...coloring books and books are great...Anything that will keep them occupied...Maybe some sticker books will keep them busy also...My mom just got my daughter some and she is only 2 and loves them...of course she rarely sticks them on the pages of the book but as long as it is keeping her happy!! Soo sorry for your loss!!
God Bless,
Meg

HI D.,
What my parents did for me and my siblings, was to have another adult member of the church agree to be our watcher during the sermon. My brother would sit with a member in another row, while my sister & I would sit with another couple, when my parents were not there. We did this every Sunday and my sister & I grew to love the sitting with them and to this day, they hold a special place in our heart.
Talk with your pastor or other church community members and see if you can get one other person/couple to watch one of them, while you watch the other. I image that if they are separated it might help alot and its not for very long. Kids sometimes listen better to another adult in those social situations.
Good Luck,
N.

I am sorry for your recent loss, D.. I would be sure to sit between the two children, and if you have a friend or family member who could also go with you, so you have two adults between the kiddo's, that would be great.

Although I am not big on bribery for kids, and it would be great if they could consider going to church to be a privilege, religious services is probably the one occasion where I'd say it's fine to tell the kids if they behave according to your standards, you'll take them for an ice cream after.

On the way over to the church, talk to them about behaving in church and remind them to behave again right before you walk thru the door. But don't expect much from them once you are seated as they are still very young. You might have to get up and go out side with them to settle them down before bringing them back in to try again or even leave the church early....But don't give up on taking them. Children that age get bored fast but as they get older, and if you keep working on it, things will get better.

Sorry for your loss.

Hi D.,

I am sorry for your loss and am glad you are going with the children to church. Try putting one on each side of you. Give them paper and pencil to draw, take color book and crayons, cards. God Bless, J.

Hi D.,

First, I want to echo what others have said... my deepest condolences on the loss of your husband. Hopefully church is a good place to be, where you yourself can find comfort and hope.

My name is W., and I'm a 31-year old pastor with an almost-3 year old. I'm so glad you're bringing your kids to church! It's so important for them to get the cadences of worship life into their hearts and minds as little ones. So many people say they'll wait until their kids are "ready" -- but for many families, that fabled time never arrives. Church is also the only place in society where kids see all generations interacting together -- and it's so good for them to have a community, especially if yours is a church where people take time to learn your kids' names.

That said, our congregation is almost 20% kids, and I see families facing these challenges every week. Speaking for myself, I'd rather preach with noisy kids than have museum-silent church. I imagine most pastors feel the same way. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them." This is important stuff!

A few suggestions... have 3 bags of Church-only toys (our Church has bags with finger puppets, clipboards that you can attach papers or kids' bulletins to color, seasonal stickers, etc.) I say 3 bags so you can rotate through and they remain special; and Church-only so that they maintain their appeal.

Also, many families automatically sit in back (the "bleacher seats") -- where it's hard to see the candles, flowers, choir, organ, and action. It's counter-intuitive to sit up front, but might hold their attention and give you opportunities to point out symbols and what the people are doing.

Teaching kids some of the responses is helpful -- the words to songs that are used often, or if you're in a liturgical tradition, you have lots of things that are spoken each week (the Lord be with you -- kids motion with hands and say, "and also with you"). You can even teach them some sign language bits so they can "move" with the liturgy (like the first words of the Lord's prayer, or make the sign for Love or Jesus whenever they hear it). Or motions like making the sign of the cross (God be in my head/thinking, heart/feelings, and shoulders/strength/ doing). (Also, if the music is jazzy, you can have some shakin-eggs (buy them at a music store for $1.50 each) so the kids can contribute to the music. Collect them when the music ends.)

Another option is to bring something for them to draw or color as their "offering," which they put in the offering plate when adults put money in the plate. Talk to your pastor about whether there is a place these pictures could be posted, and let your kids know how God smiles when they make offerings of their time and talents. This could be a growing ministry for your congregation to value the gifts kids bring -- and the tellers will enjoy seeing the offerings over the weeks!

You can also do some things at home, like having a nightly blessing. My little guy sometimes even gives me a blessing as I put him to bed... he wants to be a part of it all.

Blessings to you and your kids. What you're doing makes a big difference -- giving your kids a community and hearing about God's unconditional love for them. It's Good News!

Peace and hope throughout your journey!
--W.

I also agree with teh other suggestions, take advanatge of all of the programs the church offers for the kids. The more they are involved in the other activties, the more they can "see your reasoning" to try and sit still so Mrs So and so can hear. as they know mrs so and so. Just helps them see the need. Also is there another adult older or younger that you could sit with who would support what you are trying to do?
At five and four, (mine arenow 7 and 5), they brought bible story books with them. I tried to tie in the lessons being read to their bibles...even if it wasn't actually in there.. if it was about sheep, I found a story in their bible about sheep. Coloring something they hear in teh sermon was helpful as well. When it was time to pray- if they are recited--- try practicing them at home or in teh car on they way in--- my kids race through ( our next thing to attck:)) but they work on being queit whne one has to be quiet, and noisy when they don't. My a5 year old loves to whistle and whistles through the hymns, instead of singing.

Hope thathelps you brainstorm. Unfortunartly, I have found that during those years of teaching about church and how to "behaveapporpriatly",, I am very busy :) and don't always get to hear much of what is going on as always interpreting it for the kids- hearing prayers and asking the kids what they woudl pray for, .....hearing the seromon and helping realet it to them during the sermon. My goal was/is to keep them quiet so other can hear, but also teaching then about the pats o fteh service and helping them feel involved so as they get older, they don't dread attending, but see that the service is a way adults and families praise God and worship together, sharing our concerns so others know how hurts and praises.

I am so sorry for your loss. Have you tried sitting between them? Does your church provide little religious booklets with children's sctivities in them; these should keep them busy. Also, have you tried going to a children's mass where the children go up to the alter to listen to the service? That's about all I could suggest. Good luck.

So sorry to hear you have been recently widowed. Do you sit in between your kids in church? I do that with my older two (8 & 5). I also take a colouring book or sticker book that they can work on quietly. My youngest is only two and he loves lift flap books. They keep him quiet for a while. Also I have a handful of sweets. When they are sitting nicely they can have their sweets. I know some people might be horrified that they get sweets as a reward but the only time they get sweets is on a Sunday in church and that is part of their special day. Take care and God Bless.

Dear D. A:

First of all, I'm sorry for your recent loss. It will take some time perhaps a few years but everyday that passes by is one more day that you accomplished. I also want to say that keeping close to the Lord is exactly what God wants and you and your children will reap blessing upon blessing.

Now to answer your question, it seems to me that your church does not have a Sunday school for young children.
I don't know what denomination you are, for example, most catholic churches don't have this. Now, if you are a born-again christian, whether it be non-denominational, baptist, pentecostal, adventist, methodist and some lutheran do have a Sunday school for children of all ages, even a nursery for babies, which is I guess what you referred to as a crying room.
I also don't know if you have been going to this church for a long time now, or recently started visiting. If it is the latter, then perhaps you want to look into visiting several churches but that would have Sunday school, so that you will not be disturbed during service and at the same time, your children are learning about the Lord through games, songs and stories and prayer and having fun at the same time and they will embrace going to church instead of dreading it.

I hope I have been of some help with this advice, but I would like to leave you with some bible verses, they are promises that God has given us through His word. Also, if you need someone to listen to you, besides God, I'm here as well.
May God grant you peace, serenity and wisdom now and always, especially now and when years down the line you need to be firm with the children for their own good. Keep your computer in the living room where you can always keep an eye on who and what they are doing. Problems happen to come into your home a great deal of the time just through the internet!!! Don't let them go and come home from school when they are 11 or 12, by the time they are 13 they think that they are over 21, not 18!!! I know, I have two children who are teen-agers, my daughter who is 13, and my son who is 16.
Many times you just want to scream!!!!

Isaiah 26:3 James 4:6,7
Joshua 1:8 Isaiah 41:10
Ps. 121 Jeremiah 33:3
Ps. 96 Numbers 6:24-26
Prov. 3:5,6

God Bless you and your children, Respectfully yours,

R. C.

Interestingly enough, the priest at my church told me to sit closer to the front with the kids and they will be quieter. He said that when you sit in the back they don't feel as involved and then lose intrest.

I have a 3 1/2 and 18mo old little girls, and moving up really makes an impact.

So - if you are sitting in the back, try moving up and see what happens!!

D.

In My Faith we take turns watching the kids,
Perhaps you could do that in your faith aswell.

If not you could try visiting mine.

Bahai Faith
###-###-####
9599 Clarecastle Path, Brewerton, NY 13029

http://portlandmetro.bahai.us/

My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Give this a try, sit up front, closer to the priest and sit in between them.

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