Welcome back, compadres. If you have 37 children and would like them to be still and quiet in church, we understand. We can help, because some of our 37 children have been known to sit quietly in church some of the time.
How’s that for street credit? You expected better? I’m just pulling your leg. It may feel this way sometimes but honestly, you can teach and expect your children – even toddlers and older babies – to still in church without being disruptive to the people around you.
As usual, a certain amount of preparation is very helpful:
- Give a pep talk before you arrive. Remind the children of the standard, and let them know exactly what you expect and require from them. Of course this only works for children old enough to understand what you’re talking about, but doing this allows you to focus more on keeping the younger ones in line.
- Arrive early enough to take care of bathroom trips before the service starts, then make it clear that all but the very youngest are expected to wait until after the service for subsequent bathroom trips.
- Decide if you are going to allow scribbling, quiet toys, etc. and have the materials ready for distribution with a minimum of whispers, fuss and fidgeting. We allow babies to have one quiet toy, and younger ones may have a pen to write on their bulletins. This is phased into taking notes as they get older. 4yo Perry likes to copy words from the hymnal or bulletin, and this is fine by us if he can do it without asking a lot of questions.
Choose your seating carefully. We tried several arrangements when all the children were young and hit upon a plan that worked beautifully for us. Now that we have 4 teens, we do things a little differently but we still use 2 rows whenever possible. I can’t say enough about placing your challenging children directly in front of Dad. 🙂
Plan for training. Don’t expect to hear every word of the sermon while you have little ones. If you invest time in training now, you will reap bountiful harvests later. Our worship is our service to God, and He is pleased when we train little ones to serve Him as well. He won’t mind if you missed part of the sermon yet again.
Have high standards and realistic expectations. Even babies and toddlers can learn to behave well in church, but they’re still going to make some noise now and then. My husband’s standard is higher than mine, and he constantly shows me that they can do better than I expect. On the other hand, they do occasionally make some noise. We invariably find that our disruptions passed unnoticed by most of the people around us.
Don’t sweat it. Do your best, but don’t let the process stress you out. Most people expect children to make a little noise, and chances are the people in the next row are totally unaware of the fidgeting and quiet battles of will happening in your row.
It’s a process, remember? You and your children will have good days and bad ones, and someday you’ll all laugh over the time your 5yo got her legs tangled in a front row folding metal chair and fell in a deafening clatter right in the middle of prayer.
The other moms:
- April 28 – Q and A: leave your question here.