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.

3 moms found this helpful

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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)


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 :)


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

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