M.C. asks from Bridgeport, CT on March 27, 2008
How to Help My Children Sit Quitely in Church.
I have 2 children Aaron my oldest is 4 years old and Alejandra is 2. I don't expect for them to be 100% silent nor sit for an entire hour and a half, but it's really hard to listen to the preaching when they are laying on floor, talking loud, crying, going under the bench, and taking things out of my diaper bag. I've tired bringing favorite activities, such as books, coloring books, favorite stuff animals, food etc. I've also started time out, but they come back and start all over. I need new Ideas, they will be much appreciated.
A.B. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
One word -- Leapster! My son started playing with the Leapster video game when he was 2 and 1/2. It can keep him quiet for 20-30 minutes. It comes with 3 educational and cute games for about $40 at Target. You can also buy many other story-based games, e.g. Dora, Nemo, Thomas, that teach kids coordination, writing, reading, numbers and other good stuff. I hardly ever let him play it at home; we use it for restaurants, church, traveling... all those times when we're desperate for the whirling dervish to set still quietly!
As for the appropriateness of using a video game during a meeting of worship, I see both sides of the argument. I hope you can pray over it and follow a path that offers you peace in your conscience and spirit.
M.T. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Hi M.. Although church/religious services are certainly important to many families, I think it's important to remember that these are very young children. Many churches and synagogues have a children's room, where parents and young children can see/her the services without disrupting other worshippers. With such young children, especially a 2 year old who is incapable of reason or much self control, do not expect behavior at church or anywhere else that you would not at home. Could your children sit relatively still and quietly at home for an hour and a half? If not, they aren't going to be able to pull this off in church either. If there's a children's room, I'd say hang out there and gradually decrease the amount of time you spend observing the service from there and increasing the amount that you spend in the main sanctuary.
E.W. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Hi M., we have a Kidz Club at our church for the kids (The Life Christian Church, West Orange NJ, ###-###-####) with lots of activities for them and also a Nursery for the babies so the parents can listen to the preaching, you should check it out if you are in our area. The kids are well taken care of and should they need you they will not hesitate to contact you, most of the time you cannot get them to leave at the end of their time there. I hope it works out for you.
H.P. answers from Rochester on March 28, 2008
M. ~ I see that you have many responses, so I will briefly share my experience. I have ALWAYS brought my children into church services EVERY week. When at my mother’s church I was asked to ‘send my child’ with the other children ~ as they do ‘child scripture lessons’ in another area removing all the children during the homily <when the priest talks>; I did so ONCE: Never again. ALSO, A very rude parishioners at a church told my child <almost age 2 at the time> to ‘shut up’ <YES, she actually said this during mass>: we no longer attend or support that church. Children are our future and the future of the church. Most parents are more annoyed and hear more noise than anyone else in the church. Children WILL make noise. You need to make sure they understand their ‘inside/quiet’ voice and when to use it. We now sit within the first three pews of the FRONT of church – NO Hiding in back – and we make sure the youngest can always see. She would rather sit quietly then have to walk all the way out of the church with everyone watching her get reprimanded for misbehaving. She watches all that is going on, who is helping the priest, where they go and what they do. It takes time – but it gets better!! <Usually, we still have issues with the older ones when they attend with us and they are over 18!!!> Good Luck, and God bless you for giving them a spiritual beginning.
S.B. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Does your husband go to services with you? I have two ideas. First, seat the two of you between the children so that they don't interact with each other. They can play quietly with their toys and then a special lunch can be planned for them. You name the reward and/or consequence ahead of time. My second idea is what my parents did when I was growing up. Go to two separate services. If the 4 year old can handle Mass, then he goes with one of you while the 2 year old remains at home with the other parent. Then, swap. The second parent goes to service alone while the first parent watches both kids at home. With both of these suggestions, at least one parent needs to do a little double duty -- pay attention to the preaching and to the child. Ignoring the child for that long and expecting them to be quiet is not realistic, I think. Talk with them in a whisper for a few moments about what they are doing and to compliment them about being good for Mommy and Daddy. I'm rambling, but I hope this helps.
J.S. answers from Glens Falls on March 28, 2008
I have a 5 year old and a two year old that I take to church every Sunday, and not to mention the 8 and 10 year old. The best way to keep everyone quiet and entertained is to pack them each a little bag of quiet toys. For instance, for my 5 year old I bring a small box of crayons, a coloring book, a couple of his favorite reading books, a travel light bright, and a little bag of his favortie snack. For my two year old I pack a few of her favorite books, her little aquadoodle book, a babydoll and the bottle, and one of her favorite snacks (Goldfish Crackers work well and last awhile). My other two are old enough and like to pack their own little bag. Have your children help pack their bags so they are a little more involved and you know they will enjoy the things that were packed. Snacks are really helpful to have in the bags. I hope this helps.
L.H. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Quiet time at home has revolutionized church time for me. My kids, ages 5 and 3, no longer nap, so we have quiet time. I put them in their rooms with books, coloring, or sticker books. The rule is they have to stay on their beds and be quiet until the timer rings. Once the timer rings, I sneak in a little treat to them (like a couple of Tic Tacs--something very small) if they followed the rules. Then we do it one more time.
I started with very small time intervals--10 minutes I think--and I increased the time by one minute every day. We are now up to 35 minute intervals, so they can now sit quietly and entertain themselves for an hour and 10 minutes easily. Incidentally, that's exactly how long they have to sit quietly at church. :)
A couple other thoughts. The more I bring to entertain at church, the more it turns into a three-ring circus. I now only bring one quiet activity (a book or coloring) and one small snack. I also try to make the quiet activity something that they don't have access to during the week so that they will be interested in it for longer.
Also, my kids do MUCH better if we sit up front where they can see. I have started using the "timer" in church, telling them to look at the clock, and when it gets to a certain number, we can take out the snack, or I might have a small treat that they can look forward to like that.
Good luck, and remember that it will get better and better the older they get.
K.W. answers from Glens Falls on March 28, 2008
I agree that bringing activities and snacks is a good idea. I did want to share something with you that one of the older women in my church shared with me one day while sitting in the nursery with my daughter. She said that when her children were young she often felt like she only came to church to go to the nursery until she realized that while she always felt like she was missing the service, she was really setting an example of discipline to her children. Every Sunday you go to church to worship. It wasn't about what any of them were getting out of it at that age, just that they were going and creating a pattern.
I sit in church with my 27 month old week after week watching other kids just a few months older sit calmly and never say a word. My child on the other hand can only make it 15 minutes or so before she simply needs to MOVE! She constantly talks to herself too. Perhaps allowing her to go to the nursery when she was younger was my downfall, or perhaps it's just her personality. She's been on the go and moving since the day she was born. We farm and the only times we ever sit still are during meals. The TV in our house is seldom on when she's awake (we catch the weather right before bed) and she doesn't have any interactive toys so we can't blame those things on her need to constantly move and have stimulation.
It does get better each week at churh. Talk to them ahead of time and explain what you expect (add little amounts of time each week). Reward them for their good behavior, but be careful not to bribe. A genuine smile, a hug, and a "Hey buddy you did a GREAT job today!" can go a LONG way!