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Monday, February 10, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Helping your child sit still in church

When our family is sitting together at church, there is very little that makes my heart feel so content.
I absolutely love having my boys sit with me...but at this point, they are 11 and 12 years old, and they are sitting with me while taking notes of the sermon. This makes for a whole different experience than what we used to do when we had a 2 and a 4 year old with us!

I know a lot of you are in that stage right now and I wanted to give some tips on helping your child sit still in church.

1. Be prepared.
I used to take snacks (that are not in loud packaging!) and different kinds of quiet toys to services with me. I actually had my mom make me a book that was made of felt, and had felt animals that would stick to the book! It is also a good idea to only bring out these specific toys on Sunday. It makes them a little more special so your child won't get bored with the toys as fast. Coloring is a great quiet activity and you can easily grab a couple new coloring books at the dollar store and bring them out just on Sunday! Being overly prepared makes for way less stress on you!
While I am not saying it's totally wrong to bring electronic devices to keep them quiet during church (I never had those things when my kids were toddlers) I don't really think it's a good idea. When do you pick the "age" that it stops being ok? There is nothing more frustrating than seeing kids old enough to be paying attention, with their face buried in an iPod. We are teaching them that church is boring. That church is for adults. That church is all about them and what makes them happy. That they need to just keep occupied until the service is over. 
Yikes. That is road you don't even want to start to go down. 

2. Trial run during the week.
This is a great idea for many, many circumstances in your kids lives.
Set up a little church place in your living room, and explain what happens during a service.
Show them the kind of "voice" they need to talk in when someone else is talking and the church is quiet. Tell them that after the singing time, they can sit on the floor and play with these special toys. Giving them a play by play is going to help you out, and you can refer to it during the service. "remember the kind of voice we practiced this week?" or "remember that as soon as the singing is done, you get to color?" Helping your child know what to expect is going to make them feel like they have a little more control too.

3. Set reasonable expectations.
I am not a fan at all of giving excuses for my kids behavior. If they miss a nap and are tired, they are still expected to obey. But at the same time, I have to be aware of what my child is capable of doing. Know what their limits are! I would have my older toddler participate in the singing part, and then be allowed to play with their toys during the preaching part. For the 2 year old, they could do different toys and snacks the entire hour.
Because every child is different, you are going to have to really know what they can and can not do.  AJ could literally sit still for a half hour straight and not even flinch. Riley? Without practice, could sit still for a half a second. That does not mean that he is incapable of sitting still longer! We need to discipline our bodies, training them to do what they should! (I Corinthians 9:27...a great verse to have them memorize so you can whisper it to them during the service!) This can take some discipline and work, but it goes back to #2. Work at home. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see if they can sit still and not move for that long. Then add to the time the next day, and see how long they can go.
Show them you are being reasonable. I still allow Riley to have a little toy or something in his hands during the service because it helps him to sit still. (if we're being honest here, I do the same thing for myself. haha!)

4. Be willing to follow through.
You have to be consistent and actually follow through with what you say the consequences are going to be! My kids knew what the consequences were. Giving empty threats doesn't help anyone.
Don't threaten them with a spanking. Don't threaten to take something away. 
Give them a second chance, yes. But be in control and do what you say you are going to do.
You can see the difference between..."Stop being so loud! Stop! I am going to spank you if you don't stop. Do you want a spanking? I said stop. Do you understand me? Stop it!"
"mommy told you to stop hitting your car agains the pew. If you hit it one more time, I am going to take you in the bathroom and give you a spanking".
A huge key to your child being in control, is you being in control! 
I had many occasions of trying to quietly taking one of my boys out into the bathroom and have them start screaming...don't spank me!! 
Knowing ahead of time that you are going to give 2 chances, and then take them out to discipline them if they don't obey, keeps you calm. It keeps you less frazzled. It is almost as if you are going exactly by the plan you had set out. Be confident in your expectations and be willing to follow through.

5. Don't assume people are judging you.
I know. Sometimes you can feel like everyone is staring, and that quite possibly they are thinking 
"I have never seen such a rotten child."
Maybe they are.
But most likely? They are not. Either way, it does not affect how you should be handling your child. It ends up causing more stress on you, and you start feeling all kinds of emotions that you don't need to be feeling.
Just let it go.

Lastly, your child picks up on your attitudes, and your facial expressions.
Talking excitedly about church all week, and being excited yourself about going, sets a stage.
It shows your kids that you love being at church and that you are happy to be there.
It shows them you are obeying what God says, and you are obeying without complaining.
If they hear you complaining, and whining about it, it will send all kinds of mixed messages that will affect them later. 
Don't make things harder for yourself than they have to be.

Next week I will be talking about your older children and what going to church should look like for them.


  1. Thanks for posting this I needed it! Looking forward to more mommy Mondays!

    1. I'm so glad, and thanks! :)

  2. Love this. Very helpful stuff~ the mommy Monday is a great idea!!


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