September 22, 2008,
S.C. asks from Patchogue, NY on September 17, 2008
Keeping a One Year Old Quiet in Church
I have a 16 month old son who started attending Church with me when he was about one month old. He was usually well behaved.... but now he knows how to walk - and that's all he wants to do! This past week I got nothing out of mass, because I spent most of my time running after my son instead of listening to the priest.
I always bring a small container of puffs with me, but they are gone by the homily. I pack a few books but they only hold his interest for a few minutes. Other than that I am at a loss. Most of his toys play music or make noise, and the quiet toys... well he finds a way to make them noisy, too! By the way, he is also the king of temper tantrums and I can't exactly ignore them in church like I would at home.
My church does not have a quiet room. They used to offer babysitting but I'm not sure if they still do; although I wouldn't consider that to be a solution. I bring him with me so that he can learn at an early age the importance of our religion. I don't want to suddenly introduce church when he's in elementary school - I believe that he should already be familiar with it and know how to behave.
Do any of you have secrets as to how to keep a one year old quiet and well-behaved during a one hour mass? I'm desperate and I don't want to fall into another bad habit of skipping church! Thank you!
EDIT: My apoligies, my request was poorly worded and misunderstood by many (that's what I get for doing this in the middle of the night!) I don't expect my one year old to sit quietly for an hour - what I was hoping for was that moms would have suggestions of quiet toys or activities that would keep him occupied and hopefully prevent him from trying to run away. And of course, I don't expect him to actually get anything out of mass at this age. Another mom here worded it much better for me: I want him to understand that going to church is part of our weekly routine. Also, I have been attending the same church my entire life and I really love it there and would rather not switch to a different parish. I do like the idea of having a "church bag" with toys that he only gets while in church.
Thank you so much to those of you who encouraged me to keep attending church with him. I'm not expecting perfect behavior - I just want to do what I can to nip it in the bud before it gets worst.
Ironically though, when I was younger I was always amused by disruptive children at church... who knew one of them would be mine?!?
God Bless, and thank you!
1 mom found this helpful
L.H. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Practice makes perfect! Spend a few minutes each day with him on your lap doing quiet activities. Whisper to him and try to help him use a whisper too. Then gradually try to increase the amount of time you do this. You don't have to get up to an hour by any means, but this routine will help establish a habit and will teach him what is expected of him in church.
Some quiet activities I've used are stickers--stick them not only on paper, but on him. Counting/games with his fingers/toes. Those lacing activities with a cardboard cutout and shoestrings to lace through the holes. Books with velcro attachments--you could make your own. Books with pockets to stick things in. Try to make the church activities special, and only let him play with them at church so they don't get old too fast.
Good luck, and stick with it. It is worth it in the end.
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T.F. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I applaud you for wanting your son to go to Church with you and to learn about his religion. We started taking OUR son to temple when he was just a baby in a sling, and that worked great. Then he got older and started shrieking and running around, so we stopped bringing him to regular services OR we would take turns stepping out with him whenever he got to be too disruptive. Also, our temple has a "Tot Shabbat" once a month - a service designed especially for very young children. We never miss that.
I agree that it's important for your son to know his Church and to be familiar with it, etc. But an hour is way too long to expect any young child to sit quietly. Perhaps you can bring him just for the very beginning of services, then go for a walk and rejoin the congregation at the very end. Or, try introducing him to the Church through other events and activities, ones that don't require such quiet stillness.
Finally, if you have to miss services because none of the above work and there isn't a babysitting option, don't think of it as a "bad habit of skipping Church". You aren't skipping it; you are making an informed choice to not participate until your child is more ready to participate with you. I'm sure you will find lots of ways to help him understand your religion at home.
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M.K. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I think you have to keep things in perspective. Your son is a year old. Your son is a baby. He IS behaving...like a baby! He will learn about religion through your example, living life well, being kind to others, showing and practicing patience and compassion. If you're losing your cool with your son in church, that gets you off the path.
Consider that God and Jesus would smile down at your baby for being himself and for enjoying his body that now can walk and his life on Earth. Babies are more spiritual than we can comprehend. They have no hang-ups or judgments. They just love and enjoy life to the fullest extent with their whole body and spirit.
However, if that's not enough and hard to enjoy in church and the sermon is that important to you every week, then the only way you will hear it is to have him in another room. Check into childcare.
Just my two cents and humble opinion.
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R.T. answers from Syracuse on September 18, 2008
First of all, I give you credit for taking your son to church. I too went through the same thing with each of my four children, and while some days I thought I didn't get much out of the Mass itself, eventually we got through it. It is a long time for a child to sit still, but please don't give up.
I used to tell my children on the way to church that we were going to practice being as good as we could for as long as possible. It was a game in a way. They had their usual moments (noise, fidgeting, wanting to get up and run) but I would tell them that it was the priest's turn to talk and not theirs so they'd have to be quiet. I would also say that Jesus was watching so it would be best to be the nicest they could be to make Jesus happy. Since my kids are now 13, 11, 8 and 6 it's hard to remember exactly what worked best, but I do remember making the comment that I had survived the weekly wrestling match after Mass!
Occasionally I would take my wiggly child to the back of the church and stand near the entrance or even go into the vestible as we don't have a nursery or cry room either. I spent some time there pointing out the stained glass windows and having the children point out the angels in them, or have them look for something else in the church. When the homily was over, we'd go back to our seats.
One year old is probably the hardest stretch of this because he's just getting mobile and wants to explore, so possibly you could stay after Mass and let him walk about the church. Most of the priests I've known have been very understanding, even making sure that people who commented on noisy children knew that it's best to have the children in church because they will have had it as part of their lives from before they have solid memories.
H.G. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
There's no sunday school for kids?? That's too bad, because sunday school introduces religion to kids in an age-appropriate and fun way! It's not realistic to expect your kiddo to be "good" during church at this point. He's a smart, active guy...just like he's supposed to be!
Honestly, I would consider finding a church that wants kids to be included in its faith! A family-oriented church will have a sunday school/nursery, and will teach children more and more as they get older. (Starting with songs and stories, and moving into more depth with time.) They will also have youth groups, and child-led services a couple of times a year. This keeps church exciting and meaningful for them- and keeps you going as well!
You should never be embarassed by your little guy. It sounds like you are a wonderful mom! Attentive, and really attuned to his needs. Maybe the problem is simply that your church doesn't meet YOUR needs?
G.M. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
While I appreciate your devotion to your religion & wanting to introduce your child early, he really is too young to get anything out of it. You are also being unrealistic if you expect a one year old to sit still during an hour long mass, most adults can't even do that. Maybe leave him w/ sitter while you go.
C.B. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
You are really asking an awful lot of your little boy. He is not misbehaving; he is merely being a normal toddler -- they are not programmed to sit quitely for any length of time!
It's not a bad idea to introduce him to religious rites early, but don't forget that he has no attention span to speak of, and that the abstract ideas that go with rligin are far above his ability to understand.
My suggestions: Don't bring him every week; give him a break once in a while. On the weeks that he does accompany you, sit in the back, try to keep him occupied as long as posible, then quietly leave as soon as you see that he is reaching his limit, BEFORE he gets relly antsy and cranky. If you push him beyond his limits, he will associate church with unpleasantness, and you definitely want to avoid that.
I would also look into arranging a toddler's group; surely you are not the only mother in your church with this issue. If the church does not have the space to set up a break room, perhaps you could arrange a rotating playgroup, leaving children with one or two parents at someone's home while the rest of the moms go to church.
A.S. answers from Rochester on September 18, 2008
Quite honestly, I don't bother going to church. My 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old are too much for us to handle. I cannot listen and enjoy mass while focusing on the kids. Think about what church means to you - I still get spiritual enlightenment in other ways and I don't need church for that. :)
I'm waiting until they're a bit older...then we'll go again.
C.B. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
It is not natural for a child to be still and quiet. Can you get a sitter or attend a church with childcare. Maybe a non-denominational church until he grows old enough to understand, like 10.
M.G. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
You're preaching to the choir. I have three kids that started off nice and quiet in church. They behaved so well that I got compliments. Then things changed. We are Catholic, and the slightest sound is loud, so I know what you mean. What I've done is I sat near the back of the church so that at the first sign of them acting up, I'll exit stage left and handle the situatuion, whatever it is--be it a talking to or a bathroom trip, or letting him finish off his temper tantrum out of hearing distance, or whatever. I know how it is, feeling like "what's the purpose of going to church if I can't hear the message?". Many a homily has gone over my head because I wasn't listening. But you're right, the children do have to get that exposure early on. It's a double-edged sword situation. Hopefully the priest is child-friendly. Some aren't. The not-so-good news is that it will take quite some time before they begin to focus on what's going on in church, and it all depends on the child. My son is 9 and is still fidgety in church. Whereas my girls, 7 and 4 are better behaved and participate. Continue with the snacks (pack more puffs) and bring juice bags/boxes. Bring him to church tired, so he won't be as active. I still do that with my son. He gets up early in the morning, but mass starts at 12:30. What does your son play with quietly at home? If it's small enough, bring it. All this to say, just hang in there. This too shall pass.
M.T. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
A one year old isn't going to be quiet and still for an hour in church or anywhere else. He isn't misbehaving. A baby will not act like an adult. If your church doesn't welcome babies and their behavior, then I'd suggest it is time to look for a new church that accommodates family worship. All members of the religious community, including babies and children, should be welcome in church or synagogue.
L.C. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
My only advice is to just say that he is only 16 months old and is acting totally age appropriate. This is the time that he should be running around and making a lot of noise with anything he can get his hands on. I know it can be annoying or frustrating when you are trying to have him be quiet...epecially in church....but I would not get too concerned. Instead, I would not bring him to church at this age...really, what is the point? I understand you want him to understand at an early age about the importance of religion, but I really think 16 months is not the age to do it. I have three children, 6,4 and 11 months and religion is important to us. However, church is not enjoyable when they start acting up. Our church has a crying room so it helped...but we still would not get anything out of mass when our first born was your sons age so we stopped going with her. Now we try and go whenever we can but kids are kids and they will learn to sit and behave in church...but not at 16 months. Can you go without your son? Maybe you and your husband can take turns and go to different masses? Good luck and please know that if you skip church because you have young children, it does not make you a bad person....just my opinion. :-)
M.W. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Oh my goodness - your request made me laugh! I have "church stories" because of my dgtr and they are hysterical! But - yes - when she's crazy - she's crazy!!! She's not usually behaving badly - she just talks about everything (loudly) from anyone around us to the lights on the ceiling to naked Jesus! Sometimes she just sings any song in her head --but belts a tune out when they start to sing. We keep her occupied with 4-5 books and a group of stuffed animals (there's 6 that are with her all the time - smaller sized ones) and she sticks those into the back of the pew in front of us. I try to get her to 'pray' with me after communion and she will put her hands together and she'll name people to pray for.
My dgtr is 26 mos old right now - we started bringing her around age 2 consistently. We tried a couple times before that and it just didn't work. (and it wasn't something that I felt the need to push at that time - you may feel differently). But - it may be too early for him. Some of the most religious people I know stopped taking their toddlers b/c it was too much until they were a bit older. Not even elementary school, but at a later toddler age. But, I do understand if you don't want to stop now. Try the other things - more things to take his attention. You will likely not get much out of church for a while. And if you need to stop going for a little while - don't get too upset. You will still live by the same religion at home and give your child the same values and many people find they have to do it.
M.K. answers from Buffalo on September 18, 2008
S. - Good luck. As a mother of three boys, i went thru the same thing. Just do your best to keep him quiet as long as possible and then if/when you have to - stand holding him in the back of the church where you can't distract alot of people. You're boy's is not even 2! I'd be more worried if he did act like an angel and stayed still and quiet that long. My pastor once told me "M. - your anger is more distracting than your son's talking and playing in church" After he told me that...Ijust went with the flow. Don't give up and not go. By the time he's 3, he will know the rules of church and follow them. My boys were sitting quietly during the whole service by that age and I loved getting the compliments every Sunday from other people about how well behaved they are. Be patient...it'll happen. M.
B.Z. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Our little girl is 13 months. Since 1 week old to about 1 month ago, she was an angel at mass (no pun intended). I find despite the occasional crab, most folks (especially older folks who don't often see youth in church) love sitting near her no matter what she's doing! Keep bringing the snacks, books, etc, and perhaps consider attending a mass where people are most likely to enjoy his breath of fresh air. I personally feel the "quiet room" defeats the purpose of community in church. If a child needs a break, give a brief break and return. Remember, there are many of us out there whose kids like to wander-and comment on what the priest has to say (haha)!!!
A.R. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
We started taking our then 6 month old to chuch this summer. It worked out well at first, but now that's he's
10 months old, we're going through the same thing.
I now think maybe once a month is the best we can hope
He LOVES singing. So during any hymn, he will stand on the
bench and lean on the pew in front of him and "sing" along.
(Really, it's more like howling, but no one seems to mind.)
He is also currently mad about puppets. So next time we
go, I'm going to try to bring a few puppets and when he
gets fussy, maybe we can quietly amuse him w/o distracting
those around us too much.
J.T. answers from New York on September 17, 2008
Your church should have a special children's Mass. I attend Sacred Heart Church in Suffern and we have one at 10 AM. It has a quiet room yet the Priests don't mind if the children walk around or make noise during the Mass. That's what the Children's Mass is for, the Priests told me!
My husband's parents' Church in Massachusetts has a children's Mass at 8 AM. Check your Church bulletin, talk to your Priest, or check out the Church's website to see if they offer one and at what time.
But I hear you! Sometimes we have to take our daughter to an adult Mass and she makes noises and throws fits because she can't walk around. I always make sure to sit on the end so I can make a quick get away with her. My husband and I take turns keeping her occupied. We give her quiet toys, let her stand up on our laps and we save snacks and bottles for the homily so she doesn't disturb the Priest. I suggest you bring lots of snacks and choose a Mass time when he's more sedate. Or I would withhold giving him a nap or keep him very active for an hour or two before Mass so he can konk out. Another thing you can do is sit next to a couple who has a child so they can keep each other occupied. My daughter loves kids and she'll just watch and wave to them.
Good luck. Let me know what happens. My daughter's one year too and she's testing me everywhere!
J.H. answers from Syracuse on September 18, 2008
I don't think you can keep a child at this age quiet - they aren't built for that!! Lord knows mine weren't - LOL! (I have a 16 month old as well)
Skipping church is a bad habit, imo...but having a disruptive child is worse...not only do you get nothing out of church, but those around you are also distracted, and that's not fair...I think you're only option is to find a sitter for that hour. At least til he is a little older and can sit better.
N.B. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
My inclination would be to say that if they are any kind of good church and good church goers they shouldn't really care and neither should you.
I would also say that 16 months is too early to be expected to sit that long. His comprehension of what is going on would be very minimal. I would wait a little longer so that it doesn't create a problem for you.
K.E. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
We have brought our children to church since they were born. Your son is at an age where it's difficult for every child - no matter how exposed to church they are. I think you absolutely should continue going every week, however, you need to create shorter increments for your child. Make sure he is there for the singing and any other elements that he finds (for lack of a better word) entertaining. You want children to find church safe, fun - and a place they want to be. Create a system of your own for things you give him to entertain - so that he doesn't see everything all at once - it'll last longer that way.
If there's no children's room or class for him, you should either find a babysitter for him during the homily or take turns with family members/friends to walk outside with him during that time. Or you may just have to break up the mass for yourself - and that may be a different part of the mass each week - where you go for the beginning half, or the ending half. The older he gets the longer you'll be able to stay in the service. You have not failed if he cannot tolerate an hour of mass - unless the child is sleeping, no one year old should be expected to do that!
I am the oldest of 5. My parents took us to mass every week - and they still go daily. They knew it was impossible for us all to sit for an hour of mass depending on whatever age we were - and there were no children's programs/sitters. So they found a weekly mass at the local hospital chapel - it was only 20 minutes (no singing/shorter homily/no extra announcements).
Now I go to a church where the service lasts an hour and a half. My 4 year old and 2 year old are in the service for the first 30 minutes and then either go to a children's class or the nursery where they can play, and we can hear the rest of the service. There were definitely times when my children were younger that they could only last 10-15 minutes in the service - and though it's frustrating, it built up and they did what they could (and I could) at the time.
L.W. answers from Albany on September 18, 2008
You kind of have to work through it...We feel the same way with our boys (they are now 3 and 5 1/2), and went through a period of time where we'd be lucky if we got through half of the church service. With our first son, we'd take him to the crying room (visual, but no audio to the worship space), but by the time our second son arrived, our church was under renovation, and we didn't HAVE a crying room. (With the renovation, we got audio and video to the worship space, so whoever is in there with the boys can still "participate" in the service.) By taking them every week, knowing full well we might not last the entire service, they still "got into the habit", and we just kept extending their time in church until they now sit through the whole thing. (Even after 45 minutes in Sunday School, first!) Oh yeah - and we still go loaded with snacks and juice, and quiet toys for my older son. My younger son is happy playing with the hymnals!
S.H. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
HI S., it sounds like you are going through the same thing we are with my 14 month old son. I have found that it matters what time of day I take him to Mass. He will actually sit through a daily Mass at 8:30 am during the week when he has trouble with the 4:45 pm on Saturday. We've found that taking a bottle or cup of milk helps because he wants to drink it and it keeps him quiet, along with other snacks. I've also noticed that lately he's been napping in the afternoon, so we might need to address that as well and switch masses. Also, our priest told us that he'd rather have the children in the church than not coming at all, that's why they don't have a cry room. The one week I took my son out, he told me that he hadn't even heard him because he was so into saying the Mass. And I will admit that there are those weeks where DH and I split masses so our son can stay home. Good luck, it's hard but so worth it in the long run. My niece was constantly in the cry room, and now at 5 she still can't sit through Mass because she was never exposed to it.
D.W. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I understand you want him to start learning about church. At his age just making the eniviroment known to him is educating him.I know you said you would not consider a solution to put your child in a babysitting room if there is one. Why not? You would enjoy Church alot better if you were able to concentrate instead of worrying. I use to work in a nursey for a church the kids loved to go there. I Had ages from 3 months up to 2years. The parents didn't have to worry and the kids were happy. But they still knew they were going to church and got familiar with the other children they will be growing up with and later attending sunday school and masses with. At 16 months you would want you child to be learning to socializing. There is nothing wrong with giving mom some quiet time in church. Don't feel guilty. Just think about you felt before you had a child and you were in church and someone else had their child in there.
A.D. answers from New York on September 22, 2008
Hi S., I understand what you are going through. I have raised 5 children and I also go to church. What I did is continue to take my child and when he/she got noisy I would leave. Just going counts even if you cannot stay 'till the end. If you want to hear the readings, (this difficult time will pass) you can turn on EWTN at 8 AM and hear them while you son is playing at home. Many blessings, Grandma Mary
D.S. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I applaude you exposing your child to church and teaching him about your religion. However as the owner of a preschool I can tell you getting a toddler to sit for more then five minutes is a miracle. Toddlers love to explore and asking them to sit for an hour is unrealistic. I think you should either get a sitter or just go for a portion of the mass for now. As your child grown his ability to sit for longer periods of time will come as well. I think the fact that you are making an attempt to go to church will be recognized and the other parishioners will appreciate the fact that you have made a choice that is best for all. Good luck!!!!
J.P. answers from Buffalo on September 18, 2008
I had the same problem with both of my girls. I tried to set up a babysitting co-op at my church, but not many people were intrested. Apparently they used to have a "babysitter" who was paid, but that didn't work out either. The only, and best solution, we found was to switch churches. Our new church isn't Catholic, but it is Christian. I miss the Mass, esp. Communion, but after a few weeks it started to get better. It's a great church. The thing that was important to us was for our girls to learn while there, and they do. My five yr old LOVES her new church. Even though she can sit through Mass, she wouldn't get to much out of it.It's still to grown up for her. The classes at her new church are geared twords her age and she really learns a lot and has fun. She knows we are still Catholic, but also that the Catholic church is boring(to her at this time.) At that age I can undrestand that. I would rather she learn, and learn to love the church than sit through Mass and be bord to tears and grow up thinking that's what church is. Hopefully this way she will develope a love for her faith. She also knows we will go back to our Catholic church when she and her sister are a little older. We still attend special functions and Masses at the Catholic church, and my husband and I teach the girls the particulars of our faith and it works really well for us. My younger daughter is only just two, so I know she wouldn't sit for Mass and then , as you said, nobody gets anything out of it...except frustration! Maybe you will have better luck at your church. Hopefully you could start a co-op there and it would work. Try talking to other mom's there and maybe you can all figure out something together. As I stated earlier, we tried and failed. It was either switch or not go at all. This is just an example of what we found to work for us. Good luck, I hope you find a solution that works for you and your family.
K.M. answers from Syracuse on September 18, 2008
Take a small stroller with you, and sit in the back. Practice going lots of places where your son has to stay in the stroller while you are sitting. Even if it's only going to the mall. He will eventually get the idea that he has to stay seated there, and he should be pretty good about it. I get compliments all the time on how good my 2 little ones are at sitting in the stroller. They have always sat in it everytime we go somewhere, and they just know that's how it is. If you have to leave the service a little early, then you just do. At least you were there for part of it, and your son was exposed to people sitting quietly. He'll get the hang of it in time. You may have to decide which part of the service is more important to you, and possibly go late rather then leave early. Another option is to get a tape recorder and give it to someone who is able to sit close, and quietly. They can record the service for you so you can listen later on. Your Priest might even appreciate that because copies could be made to pass on to others. Or you could request that the church records the service. It could be beneficial to any home bound members during a lenthy illness.
C.H. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I am not sure if this is tha answer you want to hear but I would look to find someone to take care of him while you go to church. I have three kids (7,5 and 15 months). When we signed up our children for Religion class last year we were shocked to find that they offered one class during the 9:00am mass on sunday. My husband questioned the Sister in charge of it and she tole him that they offer that because children do not understand what is going on in church, so it is almost pointless for them to attend mass. She said that until they are in 2nd grade and learn in Religion class shat goes on during mass they will be bored. it really does makes sense. As a mom of three I really get mad when I take them to mass (usually holiday) and people look at me like they are think "great, lookat those kids sitting near me". I think there are a lot of people who pray and like the quiet time in church. Also, if you are trying to keep him busy during the mass, how much attention are you able to pay during mass. I like when I go to church without the kids. it is my time!!!
L.C. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Our son has being going to temple since he was 3 months old -
he is 3 now - I too packed snacks, books, crayons anything that would keep him quiet. But kids will be kids - I was always leaving the sanctuary when he would get restless - The Rabbi took me aside and told me our house of worship was for families and our son was fine and there was no reason to get up and leave - When our son 1st started walking he boldly walked the 3 stairs up to the beamer where our Rabbi was during the service - our Rabbi picked him up and continued the service. We were very fortunate to have found a temple and a Rabbi who made our family comfortable and that I can
go to temple with out worrying. I do hope you can find the same comfort. Speak with your clergy maybe they can recommend something you are not the only mother with these issues.
M.G. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Do you not realize that your SERVICE to God is taking the best care of His Precious Gift to you, You child????
There is no greater service to God than to take your responsibility for your children.
I believe that forcing a child at such an active, normal young age to behave like you, an adult is not only ridiculous but abusive. Think this harsh if you may, it is OK. I have seen children destroyed about "religion" when adults because of this discipline. That child is closer to the source than you are. You have separated years ago from God and now you seek to get close in your adult years. It is our condition. Please do not misunderstand this.
However, know that a well adjusted child should be able to be a child when they are a child! I hope this makes sense to you.
If you are watching your child and thinking about God and being in Church -you are far more in LOVE with your Lord then the so called Holy one who sits in their Church and dreams of the world outside and what they are missing at that moment!
Read stories of the Jesus and his life, play games with your child at that hour of Church that you are missing. Walk around the Church with your little one and point out the Statues and stories as he can learn as he does what he is suppose to be doing at that age. He is not suppose to be sitting still in a Church with adults.
Start a babysitting co-op and take turns during that hour with other parents. We did this and it worked out great! We planned songs to sing with the children-taught them the songs of their religion, read stories and played at the kids level of age appropriate!We had fun and everyone benefited from this plan!
Good Luck and God Bless you and your Child!
There are ways around this stress-be positive-PRAY and God will send you the answer within! That is how it works.
L.C. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Wow girl, you're brave:)I do not think it is realistic though to expect 16 months old to sit still during the mass and get something out of it.The church that we go to has classes for kids while parents listen to the sermon. SO they do learn the importance of our faith but it's on the kid's level. We used to go to church there they did not have kid's church and our kids had to sit with us(not only we did not get anything out of it, our 3 year old screamed every sunday morning when it was time to go to church) Now he gets excited to go and tells us the lessons he learned afterwards.SOrry, no advice, just wanted to say that there are other options.
M.L. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Can you talk with your parish priest about ways you can be a part of the mass with small children?
At your son's age, it's far more important to get used to simply being at church and being a part of the church community than it is to be quiet and sit in the chapel. I am a Sunday school teacher at an Episcopalian church and my parish has a nursery available for parents. My children are in the nursery for the first half of the service and come up for the Eucharist and closing of the service. It's a good amount of time for them to be in the chapel but they are still a part of a loving Christian community, and they learn that they are loved by not only their parents but by the community too. They also learn that church is fun, full of love, and a place to relax and be at peace and not a place to dread.
See if you can start a nursery or convert a space in the church to a quiet room, talk to your priest about your desires and concerns and offer to help improve the service for everyone. See if you can get parent volunteers to staff a nursery during the first part of mass. I know a baptist church that has a speaker in the quiet room so that parents in it can still hear the service. A nursery is a good introduction to church life--they still get up every Sunday, go to church, and can spend a small part of the service in the chapel getting used to sitting quietly in a realistic way, when it's less disruptive to other members of the church and to yourself. It's certainly better than skipping church.
Does your church have a vestry? Approach a vestry member or a member of the lay ministry and ask them about it.
N.B. answers from Jamestown on September 18, 2008
My best advise would be to talk to the other mothers of the church and see if you can all take turns in the "quiet room" with the children that are there and have some Bible teachings for the kids.
I have a two year old daughter who has taken the initiative to be loud right before the offering. I have a wonderful 15 year old girl at the church who takes her and the other 2 year old boy to the kid's room after the offering and before the sermon.
R.B. answers from Buffalo on September 18, 2008
I would keep bringing his puffs, and other snacky things he like and a drink. I would bring his books too. I also use to bring coloring books and a baggy of crayons too. My kids would color for at least half the serman! i use ot go online and print out pictures of their favorite characters to bring also. Sometimes they would get bored with the coloring books. I also use to just take a pad of paper and different colored pens and colored pencils in my purse. Then they could use their imagination and draw whatever they felt like. Other than that....I am at a loss. Hope I could help.
K.K. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Hi there. I have a 17 month old daughter & I know exactly what you are talking about. I started bringing her to Church at 1 month old too. Ever since she started walking, she has been a handful in Church. My Church does not have a child room either. My suggestion for you, which has been working for me so far, is to have someone else go to Church with you so you can pay attention. I am not sure if that is an option for you. I go to Church with my mother or husband every Saturday or Sunday and the extra person helps. I bring her sippy cup, books, snacks and some toys. I bring crayons and paper and let her doodle too. My car keys seem to soothe and keep her occupied the most for some reason. Unfortunately she is at a very active age and can not sit still. Some weeks are better than others and she loooves to sing as well. One week my daughter was singing in Church and it was the cutest thing. An elderly woman made a comment to me after Mass that she was a nuisance and that as her mother, I should have known better to take her out. She wasn't crying or throwing a tantrum, justing singing. Apparently she wasn't a mother and didn't understand the importance of having a child in Church. The priest and other parishoners did not think that she was a nuisance at all & commented on how well behaved she was. Good luck and remember that you are not alone! :0)
M.L. answers from Seattle on September 18, 2008
I don't think there's any hard and fast rule...BUT, practice makes perfect! Here's some tips that some "older and wiser" moms gave ME when my baby learned how to run out of the Sacrament Hall:
1) Practice at home. Have the baby sit quietly in your lap for SOME period of time, either reading or playing with toys.
2) Bring more snacks. ;-) Oh, and make sure they aren't in those noisy, crinkly plastic bags. I did that last week. Oops.
3) If your baby simply MUST leave the main chapel room, then go sit in the hall...let your baby learn that EITHER way he must sit in your lap. Either in the chapel with all the interesting things to see and hear, or in the hall with NOTHING to look at.
I know it's hard with a one year old. My daughter is turning 2 in a few weeks, and has just recently come to the point where she can sit through our one hour services. Figure out, every week, what your baby can do. At first, I was proud of her if we stayed in services for 15 minutes. After that, we went out to the hall and I let her play quietly there. A few weeks later, we were up to half an hour of quiet time in the Chapel...and so on. At this point, if she were to get rowdy in services, I would use ALL of the advice above and we'd be in a classroom somewhere with her screaming to get off my lap.
I hope that helps! I KNOW it feels like, at this point, it would be much more STRESS FREE for you to stay home, but stick it out - all of the other mothers understand what you're trying to do, and where you are right now. We have three hour services (the last two hours are classes) and I used to spend those ENTIRE two hours in the hall, just following after my 13 month old. It felt like a waste of everyone's time, but she learned within a few months how to deal with the three hours there. (We have a nursery that takes the kids for the last two hours, after they're 18 months old, and that has been a LIFESAVER.)
K.W. answers from Glens Falls on September 18, 2008
So good to hear of Mama's taking their babies to church!
My daughter has been going to church with me since she was born. At almost 3 she still can't sit quietly through an entire service. Our services are about 1.5 hours long. She can now make it through almost an hour, but she has so many questions about the service that she forgets to whisper and I'm afraid she's distracting others. I'm afraid I don't have many good tips that haven't been shared already.
What I wanted to share with you is something a wise older woman in our church shared with me when my daughter was the age of your son. Mrs. B caught up with me one day while I was standing in the hallway trying to keep my daughter from climbing the walls and I was struggling to hear the service. She talked to me for a bit before saying something that has stayed with me. She talked about recalling how each of her 5 kids was a struggle in church at that age, but what she began to realize was that more important than staying in the sanctuary through the entire service, was the fact that going to church each Sunday was creating a routine. The children learned early on that Sundays you went to church and they never questioned it.
Keep hanging in there mama and don't get discouraged! The great part about children is that a lot of problems we run into span for only a short time (no matter how long it may feel at the moment).
Good luck to you!
M.J. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
No offense, but one is awfully young to be expected to be quiet during an entire mass. Actually 4 is still too young. The child gets NOTHING from it, you end up getting nothing from it as you are too busy chasing child and trying to keep quiet and everyone around you gets distracted by your child and you. Sorry that sounds awful.
Church should be a time of reflection and prayer, something that is enjoyed and taken seriously, a time to remember who we are and why we so believe in our faith, not just a time you have to obey and be quiet.
M.R. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I can understand your reasoning for wanting your son to learn your religion now instead of when he's in school, however, if he's acting out while church is in session, do you really think he's obtaining any information?
Plus - he's too young to understand about religion and what is expected of him while in church. In addition, I know that a noisy baby/child can be disturbing for the other participants in church, but the entire congregation should be compassionate enough to know that your son, like the rest of the congregation, is one of God's children - no matter how noisy he is.
My suggestion is a 3 parter -
1. You go to church without him so that you can have your time with God
2. Bring someone with you that can remove him when he becomes noisy.
3. You could practice "church sitting" at home with him - like making a game out of it. Some tv stations run church programs - and you could sit and watch that and pretend you are in church and tell him that you and he have to sit here and be quiet.. show him how to sit and fold his hands and be a good boy - even reward him for being good- take him out for lunch to wherever - buy him an inexpensive toy, etc. (It's worth a try - at least)
However, if you do so chose to go without him, it won't be such a 'culture' shock when he's older to introduce him back into the church. He'll (hopefully by that time) have learned how to sit still and be quiet. - for the most part he'll have to if he's been in school - learning to sit still and be quiet and listen to his teacher(s).
I wish you well :)
C.M. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I think it's great that you're introducing your child to Church so early. When my daughter, who is now 3, was that age, she had a hard time being quiet as well. When she started getting louder, we would simply leave the service and walk around the back of the church for a little while until she seemed ready to go back in. Also, make sure you're at a church that is friendly to children. Our church is small, and there are a bunch of little ones, who we all do our best to keep quiet. We also realize kids are kids, and if there is some noise during a service - well, we'd rather the children be there with their parents to make noise than not at all, so a little noise turns out to be no bother. Good luck!
T.B. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
Keeping a 1 1/2 yr. old quiet in church is not easy.
Expecting a 16 month old to understand the "importance of religion" at this early of an age, as he would listen to the service is even more difficult. If the puffs are not keeping him quiet, (for the sake of others), you probably should find out if they have a nursery for the kids. That's why church's provide this service because its not expected that a toddler is going to sit through a church service, and should not be expected to.
That does not mean you wont expose him to one until elementary school either. lol.
I took my kids to the nursery, and as they got older, they sat quietly... just fine. Give it a little time.
H.H. answers from New York on September 18, 2008
I would advise you to send him to the church nursery if there is one.
I started my life in the church nursery and progressed on to Sunday school and then adult services. My parents did NOT miss church on Sunday. It was always clear to me from a young age what their spirituality meant to them.
Part of it was consistently going to that building three times a week (we did Sun. morning, evening and Wed. eve services). "We're going to church. Where we learn about God and Jesus." Part of it was the way they behaved in their lives.
Your child will probably get a lot more out of learning to socialize with children his own age than he is getting out of the service. And you will get what you need for your own walk in life. As he gets older, he will get more out of it.
M.B. answers from Rochester on September 18, 2008
I don't think what I have to say is going to be helpful, other than brining more food and board books.
I thought it was an awesome thing that the pastor of our church encouraged not only participation, but allowed children to go where they wished during the service. Granted, it was a small service, but it was a very common site to have a four year old quietly playing under the altar and watching the service from the floor by the windows. He has since grown up to be a 16 year old boy who is actively questioning and participating in religion/service and is at 16 more knowledgeable about the church than I was or many other children I knew.
I thought that important when finding a church when I became married, and while we thought we wouldn't be able to have children, here is DS at age one, crawling down the aisle, to watch the Bishop renew vows and other blessings during the service last week. He had a front row seat between the first two pews and watched quietly while the Bishop worked.
My hope that church becomes a more interactive place for you - instead of skipping!