24 answers

Keep My Little Ones Quiet in Church!

Hey, moms--

Anybody have any ideas on how to keep my 3- and 4-year-old daughter and son quiet during service? They love the choir, and when they were younger, they were enthralled by Pastor's voice while he preached, but now they get bored during service and get a little rambunctious. I've tried coloring books, regular books, and children's bibles, but they only work for so long. Any suggestions on quiet toys that keep your kids occupied for about an hour?
*Note: Children's Church/Sunday School/nursery are not options.

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I was going to suggest snacks too, although I'd wait on those until the books, etc. stop being interesting. I might add a doll or stuffed animal that they could play with quietly. Good luck, I know it's tough to get anything out of service while you're trying to keep little ones occupied.

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Two words for you --- BOOKS and SNACKS! They'll get what church is all about when they get a little older but in the meantime bravo to you for making a valiant effort! :)

1 mom found this helpful

Here are a couple suggestions: a product called Wiki-Stix (I'm not certain of spelling), which are wax-coated strings that can be bent and twisted to make figures or pictures on a piece of cardboard, completely reusable. Also colored beeswax that can be manipulated with hands to form almost anything. I believe these are both available from HearthSong.com. This is a great resource for quality children's creative products. When my children were young, I packed a small tote for each child with a variety of quiet things for church services that didn't have Sunday School and similar activities. If your church offers children's classes, I'd certainly take advantage of them as you'll all get more out of Sunday mornings.


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Hi R.,

I think it's a bit much to expect a 3 and 4 year old to be quiet for an hour in a situation that is basically meaningless
to them.

Can you remember being four years old and expected to do that??

At our church kids that age are engaged otherwise, either in the toddlers room, the preschool room, or the Sunday School for kids up to 6th grade.

That way parents are getting antsy, kids aren't getting antsy, and everyone is happy.


1 mom found this helpful

It is interesting that you would post this after my day yesterday. :)

I don't have an answer for you unfortunately but here is what I experienced.

Our church offers "sunday school" for the kids DURING the service. Therefore, my kids NEVER sit in church. My daughter has come to the beginning of the service for worship but then goes back into her class.

Yesterday was family day and ALL the kids were in the service. It was quite the loud service. It seems as though NONE of the kids know how to act/behave in church.

While I understand the scheduling with them going when we go, I think they need to learn how to sit quietly, listen and pray. It was very difficult for them yesterday.

And it takes away from the whole experience for me. I don't remember half of the sermon from yesterday. :(

I am going to read some of the responses - thanks for posting such a great question! I appreciate it.

1 mom found this helpful

Try a portable CD player and purchase some kids music cd's. There are some at the bible book stores that are all the bible songs. They could wear the headphones and listen to during church or putting kids music on a ipod. It might be fun for them especially if you make it special and they only get to hear the music during church.

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I have a bag of books that we only bring to church so it's not like she plays/reads them all the time so it keeps her occupied. I have a colorforms book, a My Little Pony magnetic book and several lift a flap books that keep her occupied. We also have one of those little drawing boards (I forget what they're called) that she can only play with in church. And, of course, snacks! ;-)

1 mom found this helpful

I was going to suggest snacks too, although I'd wait on those until the books, etc. stop being interesting. I might add a doll or stuffed animal that they could play with quietly. Good luck, I know it's tough to get anything out of service while you're trying to keep little ones occupied.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi R.,

I am a single mom also. Our church has seperate services for kids held at the same time the adult service is going on. They hear the same basic message tuned to their age group. They also do a project relating to the message, pray, sing and have a lot of fun while learning about God and Jesus. Our church is Community Christian Church. It is a bible based non-denominational church. We found it through a friend while still going to a more traditional church. After going once, my little ones, at the time 2,5,7 said "Please don't ever take us back to that other boring church". After 11 years, I'm happy to say I haven't and we are all involved in various groups and serving ministries. When I was very ill and not able to drive to church, my kids, on their own, found rides to church because they did not want to miss service. That says a lot!

Take Care, J.

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My mom likes to sew. One Sunday the kids were acting up. In desparation she started hunting through her purse for something they could play with. She had a retractable, soft, measuring tape. They measured every book they had already read, the kneeler, her purse, their arms, all of their toys. It was quiet and kept them quiet. The didn't even realize church was over because they were so busy!

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Don't get discouraged--what you're doing is so worth it! While you may think your kids are being super-loud and annoying, remember that most people won't even notice your kids--including the pastor. Doesn't mean that they won't drive you crazy, but... :) What you're doing is fantastic because while we think they're not getting anything out of a service that's geared mainly for those over the age of 10, it's amazing what they pick up. Anyway, I'm not sure how things work where you are, but naturally it's all a guessing game as to what's going to keep them content from week to week. I've done the snacks... special books.... coloring books... magnetic drawing board... whatever it is, it's only for church. We also have kid's bulletins each Sunday, so my daughter has that. I've also gotten a "big people" bulletin for her and shown her the music in there or in the hymnal and sometimes she's curious and excited to be like the adults, singing and following along. Other times, nothing works. We also have kid's offering envelopes and so every Sat. night we get our "money for Jesus" and then she's responsible for that on Sunday. I guess there's no magic answer, but don't give up. Our church doesn't have Sun. school for the kids during the service (during the adult Bible class hour between services instead), but I'm glad because my daughters are learning how to act in public and how to sit still quietly--I'm not afraid to take them anywhere! :) That, and they're getting the most important thing they need in life, and THAT's worth all the struggles and missed sermons for me as I try to keep them occupied. God's blessings!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried snacks? That typically works for us. Something not messy or noisy--raisins, fruit snacks, goldfish??

1 mom found this helpful

Try puzzles and lace-up/sewing cards- both require quiet consentration, but be sure to keep then "novel" by only allowing them during church! And of course little snacks handed out one small piece at at a time are great!

1 mom found this helpful

OK, I do not even feel like I should respond because my son has not been an angel in church- but this Sunday we had success so I will share with you what worked for us. I have struggled very much with this too! On our way to church we talked about playing quiet. I packed him a bag with a coloring book and three crayons, three cars, he wanted a stuffed animal, and a bag of goldfish crackers. I gave him some money to put in the collection plate. He carried the bag and it was his responsibility to clean everything up. We also avoid the childrens room if possible because he does better away from all of the kids. I think between the food in his mouth and the variety of activity- it kept him occupied. I've always been successful when I hold him and talk to him about what is happening- the problem is he loses interest and I can't hold him for too long.

1 mom found this helpful

Time for Sunday school. They will be kept busy and learn and you will have an hour of peace and reflection for yourself.

It's a difficult situation. You don't really want them playing games or dropping their crayons (then that becomes a game). Maybe keeping one child on each side and let them hold the hymnal with you and hold one when necessary then the other. They probably like the singing part of mass. Don't forget to sit as far back as possible so as not to disturb others and if that doesn't work, a 1 hour sitter may be the answer....maybe your church supplies daycare during mass...talk to the minister.

I am actually in my church choir and my two girls (4,3) have to sit in one of the front pews by themselves during church. I bring books, the color magic coloring books, the magnetic drawing boards, snacks-especially suckers. The suckers take about 10 minutes for the kids to polish off. During that time I can usually breathe. I get up during the hyms, the children's moment, and the passing of the peace to check on them if I need to. They only have to sit in church for about 25 minutes before they go downstairs for Sunday School. My kids also love to stuff the money envelopes. So, maybe bring something that they can play post office with.

Little boxes of raisins worked when my kids where little. Tell them they can only take one and eat it at a time. Seemed to keep them quiet for quit awhile. Good Luck

I, too suggest sending your kids to Sunday School for some fun of their own. However, if your church doesn't offer SS during service, I had good luck with felt books and felt pieces. Mine were made by Felt Kids. Finger puppets are small and so are the Fisher Price Little people figures, small action heros, Littlest Pet Shop animals,beanie babies etc. Someone mentioned play-doh and silly putty both of which will stick to clothes and furnature try Crayola model magic...less messy. Keep them in a "church only" bag and rotate them so they never know what they are going to get.

We have always been encouraged by our priest to sit in the front at our church so our son can see what's going on. It does seem to make a difference for him. If we get there late and he can only see the backs of people's heads and chairs he gets unhappy more quickly. Good luck!

This is always a challenge. I have a 16 month old who is always on the go and only distracted for short periods of time, so I know how this is. We have him in church with us every Sunday. We do a lot of the things people already suggested - snacks, books, etc. One of the things that we have for him when he gets a little older is an "I Spy" bag. You can actually make them yourself if you sew. It is a bag with a clear plastic sheet on one side and it is filled with all sorts of little items, shapes and things along with rice or small white beads. Kids can really get lost in trying to find all of the little treasures inside hidden among the beads or rice and it is a great quiet toy (doesn't rattle or anything because it is cloth). Also, quiet activity cloth books are great. They usually have little things the kids can do (pull stuff out of pockets, Velcro, zippers, etc) and they are also very quiet. The key is having a choice so that if one thing isn't working one Sunday, you have something else ready to go. Good luck!! :)

If your church does not have a "nursery" maybe you could suggest starting one? If all the moms take turns (and there are usually other people who are interested in volunteering)it will enable you to get more out of the service and your kids won't be so bored. They could do more "learning" type activities. All the churches I have been to have a nursery or children's service during the regular service.

I have silly putty or playdough.I also do the color wonder markers and paper she loves them. And Sticker books. those are always a fun thing Also the toys she has for church are only for church. So she can't play with them anyother time. So they are special toys.
Hope that helps

We use to take Cheerios in the little Cheerios container. We had bench style seats in the church so he use to bring a couple of hot wheels cars and crayons with a color book. He would sit on the kneeler and do his activities on the bench seat.


I have a bit of a different spin on this question which may or may not be appropriate... But I go to a church where they have kids church from the beginning of the service. Most church services are not designed for kids but for adults so I feel it is a bit of a disservice to my 4 yr old to bring him to a service that is not designed for him and expect him to be quiet. Also, if the kids are in a service designed specifically for them, then I get to go to 'big' church and really engage and not be distracted from the message that is designed for me.

My son LOVES going to Promiseland (that's our churches kids program), I never get any trouble from him on Sunday mornings in fact he jumps out of bed and badgers my husband and I until we get out of bed and get ready to go! He learns so much there and it is very fun!!!

Hope you find the right path for you and your family!

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