When my daughter was younger, she was pretty good in church but if I told her no or something else that she didn’t like it was all out war. In. Church.
My son, however, would just start running when he felt like it. There were plenty of times I wanted to go to the bathroom and cry from embarrassment. Literally during prayer, sermon, whatever. Whenever he needed to go for a run, he went.
Of course, I know it’s was a season. We’re still in this season but it’s getting easier. It’s been a training opportunity for sure. Kids need to know how to obey even if they don’t want to and kids need to learn that there is a time and place for dealing with disappointment. That’s super hard when everyone expects you to be quiet.
Kids will learn the expectation of church but it takes consistency and prep work for the parents or grandparents.
If you have an unsuccessful trip to church, just remember that kids are learning and their temperament may not allow perfect behavior this time. Besides that perfect isn’t really achievable.
Here’s what to do when your kids act up.
Don’t panic. The worst thing to do is to panic and raise the frustration level even more. Keep calm and bring peace to the situation. If the situation can’t be handled quickly and without too much commotion then remove them.
Remove them. It’s ok to get up and go outside during church in order to regain the situation. Small children can really benefit from the distraction of being outside for a few minutes. Use this time wisely to remind them that church is a place to be quiet. Then practice being quiet like a mouse. Evaluate your child’s disposition. Is he hungry or tired or getting sick? Maybe the bad behavior is just a warning sign that he needs something.
Distract. A bag of tricks is great to have on hand. Have a few toys, snacks, cup, and some art supplies in your bag. Sometimes changing the toy of the moment works great. Be aware the church bag will constantly change with their age. Small babies require different supplies than a four or six year old. As they age, you can teach them how to pay attention to the songs and sermon more. As they depend on supplies less, you can carry fewer supplies around. All children will reach this point at a different ages.
Depends on the age. Please don’t expect your one year to behave like a five year old. Be realistic with your children. Set boundaries for the age that they are at and don’t set them up for failure because their attention span isn’t mature. A good rule of thumb is one minute of attention per year of age. If you can make it through a service without too many issues with a one year old, you are doing pretty good. Set proper expectations for the age that you have and don’t be disappointed if your small child doesn’t do well. Keep coming to church to teach and be an example.
Deal with behavioral issues away from prying eyes. If you have a defiant moment or other behavioral issue that you must deal with, don’t do it in front of others. Go outside or to the car. Trust me. Behavioral issues should be taken away from other’s view.
Remember everything is a phase and sitting through church may not be something your child can do just yet. This phase will soon be over. Enjoy it to the best of your ability because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Also, if your church has a great nursery program use it. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids playing under someone’s supervision while you worship. We have always used a nursery program or children’s church in the morning worship but not in the evening. I like this system for us. I get a chance to worship in the morning and a chance to train in the evening.
Enjoy this season with your kids and help them grow and learn in grace. You won’t regret training your kids about worship and church.