Does the thought of taking your kids to church send chills up your spine? Are you at a new church and unfamiliar with the nursery program or maybe your church doesn’t have a nursery program? I’m here to tell you that it won’t be perfect but you can help your kids focus in church.
Church with kids is doable you just need to plan ahead and get some tools to help.
I also want you to get something out of the service in addition to helping your child learn how to ‘go’ to church. That’s at least my goal – to come home with something that can encourage me during my crazy week that’s coming.
So here’s what you need to do to help your kids focus in church.
1. Talk to your kids at home about church.
Tell them why we go to church, why it’s important to sit quietly, and what we need to do during church.
For us the conversation goes something like this.
Question – why do you think we go to church? Answer – To learn about God, to be with other people who are learning about God, and to praise Him.
I also explain, “even though our friends are at church, when church starts we do not play. We can play and talk later but not during God’s time.” You may also want to say, “remember other people want to learn about God so we need to be quiet and stay on our bottoms so others can learn too.”
Laying the groundwork for good behavior at home is important for success.
You can practice going to church at home. Turn on a YouTube video of a church service, a children’s song, or maybe even of one of your own church services. Then practice sitting and learning about God. Start with one song then increase your practice time. I would not make a big deal of this. Just keep it casual and sit down for a song. Then in a few days make it two songs.
To start this, say “we are going to practice sitting quietly like we do in church”. Let’s read this book or color while the music plays.
It’s important to remember that small kids will need more time to learn these values and skills. It’s hard for a small child to sit very long so you need some healthy expectations for church.
If your child is ready, work on it. 10 minutes of sitting down for a busy body may be tough but keep trying. He’ll learn how sit for reading, singing, etc. Don’t get mad if this doesn’t work out the way you expect every time. Learning the new skill of sitting still to learn is a skill. Once they master 10 minutes, celebrate with playing whatever they want.
3. Have a bag of tricks.
Don’t ever attempt church without a bag of tricks. Snacks, paper, small toys, stickers, and any other little things you find or can think of. Change out stuff regularly and keep things in the bag for church only. Special pens are also a huge hit.
I also love taking free printables to help kids learn more about God’s Word and to even take sermon notes.
If your church has a nursery program, enjoy it and volunteer for the rotation. I used our nursery program in the mornings. But I used the skills above for our evening services.
It can take some time to get better at this but consistently showing kids how to go to church will teach them. They will learn. Be faithful in this area my friend. You won’t regret it.
Just a little honesty, if you get one good service a month with a baby or small toddler you’re probably doing pretty well.
I don’t recommend offering a special meal out at a restaurant or any kind of treat as a reward for good behavior. However, I do think it’s wise to lift up your kiddos in the car on the way home or wherever after church. Tell them how much you appreciate them for sitting still and for practicing good listening.
What are some tips you’ve used to get through church with small kids?