I have been asked a few times how I train my little children to sit quietly in church.
Before I answer that, I would like to state for the record that I am not a licensed psychologist, doctor, or plumber. The methods we use within our family work for our family (most of the time) and generally make us happy. We do not think we are smarter, holier, or happier than you are if you don't do things the same way.
Now that I have that out of the way, here are a few of the things we do to train our little children (ages approximately 15 months+) to sit quietly through a church service of an hour or more.
- Practice at home. We routinely have read aloud time when we expect everyone to sit quietly and listen. We occasionally accompany this, when we see the need, with practice standing to sing or pray, or turning to a particular song in a song book.
- Provide a picture Bible and a doll or one other small item for them to hold and look at while they are listening quietly.
- If the child is disruptive during the service, take them out to a quiet place. Have them sit in your lap without getting down and with no toys or books. Make sure they understand that they may go back inside and look at a book or hold a dolly when they are ready to be quiet.
- DON'T provide too many activities or distractions. This will only teach them to expect to be entertained. See my post on children in church to read what we do provide during worship.
- Keep them in the worship service with you from the beginning. If they don't expect to be going to a room full of toys or play type activities, they will conform more readily to what everyone else in the assembly is doing: worshipping reverently.
- Don't give up. There will be times when little children balk at sitting quietly. Continue your at home practice (daily if needed) and soon they will understand what is expected of them.
What about you? How do you handle children in church?
This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.