April 04, 2008,
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.
S.M. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Hi there M. C. I am a grandmother of two and just had to respond to your plea for help. I don't know what church you attend but ours has a what is affectionately called the "cry room". There are speakers and large windows in the room so you still feel like part of the congregation. In lieu of that, do they have a child care room for little ones. If not, perhaps you could suggest same and maybe even help to get one started. Most churches now a days have some type of child care, just for the reasons you listed. Children of that age just can't be expected to sit still, be quiet, pay attention, etc. I realize some people are fortunate enough to have children who don't utter a peep in church (I've seen it maybe twice, ha ha), but for those of us who had or have normal little kids it can be frustrating. I took my grandchildren (4 and 13) to the cry room until they were old enough to realize what was going on or were nosy enough and wanted to see what was going on. And to this day we still always sit in the first 6 rows so the 4 year old can see what's going on. She loves the singing and the prayers. I am catholic so there is a lot of up and down, singing and praise to keep her occupied. I also know a couple who had 2 really "bad" little boys who took turns going to church while the other stayed home. Not the answer for everybody but it worked for them. Does you litte boy at 4 show any interest at all yet in church. Does your church have a Sunday School for them during church (in lieu of day care)?
I hope you find the solution. I know it's really hard to get something out of church for yourselves when you are constantly attending to little ones. And just remember they won't always be "little" and before you know it they will be in pre-school, kindergarden or CCD. Let me know if things get better or if you are successful in getting things started in your church. There are probably many many other parents in the same boat as you are.
Blessings to you and your family,
1 mom found this helpful
P.K. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
Every Sunday I see parents come in with toys and activities
to keep little ones entertained. I NEVER did that. They
learned at a very early age, this was a place where they
needed to behave. Not easy since they were all a year
apart. There were four of them. However, they did learn
that "the look from Dad" meant be still. In todays world,
children need to know that they cannot be be entertained
24/7. There is a time and a place for toys, coloring books,
and cars. Church is not one of them. Stay strong and they
will get it.
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!