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Thread: Toddlers in Church
30th September 2012 02:59 PM #1
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- Sep 2012
Toddlers in Church
How can I get my toddlers (age 1-3) to behave in church, I keep them with me during the service?
Should I always be outside or at the very back to avoid disturbing people?
What are your experiences or opinions regarding this?
7th October 2012 04:23 AM #2
The benefits of having your children in church with you are enormous. Sadly, too many churches focus on family fragmenting activites, where babies are in the nursery, preschoolers are in Sunday School, and Teens are off somewhere else doing their "teen" activities while the parents site in church.
Strong families are really important, so we have chosen to keep our children with us in church and nurture that bond. We want the children to learn that church is not a place where you go to be entertained, it's a place where you go to worship and to be fed (spiritually) and fellowship.
Children who can learn to sit still during church will also be much more ready to take notes and learn from the teachings when they get to an age where they can do this.
When my children were under 2 years of age, I found that there were times when I would have to take them to the back of the church or out in the foyer during service. Sometimes daddy took them out, and sometimes I did. But I always started by having them on my lap if they weren't sleeping.
I knew of a mum who would spread out a blanket on the floor behind the last row of chairs, and she had some quiet toys for her baby to play with back there. This allowed her to be able to stay in church, but the church was also very family friendly and understood if a baby made happy noises in the back.
Once the children were about 2 and were able to sit for longer periods of time, I would start out by having them in church with us during the beginning of the service, announcements and singing, and then when it was time for the message I would see how long they could sit, and if they started to be a disruption I would take them out.
By the time they were 3, they were able to sit quietly during the entire service. I would put crayons in a fabric bag (because fabric doesn't make noise, but plastic does), and I would bring a coloring book or if I didn't have that, I would just give them some of my note paper to draw on.
You can also make a quiet book for your toddler. These can keep your toddler engaged and quiet for quiet awhile. Anytime you have a special activity just for church, let your child play with it only in church. If you let them play with it at home, the interest will wear off and it won't hold their attention in church.
The Marble Maze is another form of a quiet book, and is something your little ones will have fun with in church.
Let me know if you need more ideas and I'll post more.
In general, you can use any of these quiet ideas with any aged child to help them learn to sit quietly in church. If you have a 3 or 4 year old that hasn't learned to sit quietly in church yet, then you can actually have "sitting quietly" practice at home. Throughout the week, have a planned activity when you are listening to a message or you need some quiet time, and ask your child to sit quietly with you. You can start with just a few minutes (maybe 15) and work up from there, until the child is able to sit quietly for 30-45 minutes.
Let me know what you think. If you have any specific incidents that you'd like help with please post those as well. I'd love to help you teach your children to learn to sit quietly in church.
7th October 2012 02:47 PM #3
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- Sep 2012
Thanks a lot Kate for your reply. With your experiences, I feel I’m not alone in this in what I have been going through. I was bringing a piece of toy in my bag or a biscuit to pacify my toddler while in church and then when he starts to make a noise and give that big shout, my husband or me let him out. Actually the most difficult are those between ages 0 to 2-1/2 years. Having a 3-year-old I think is somewhat sensitive on their environment and they begin to imitate what others are doing like kneeling and praying even for a short period of time. But still their attention span is short. Your ideas are great and knowing that I am not in this alone is a support for me and what a good idea it is to bring along also some kind of like coloring book for them to be quiet. I’ll take your advises. Thanks a lot.
14th October 2012 04:58 PM #4
One of the best ways to not feel guilty about having your child in church with you is to know in your heart that you are doing what is best for you and your family. When you know that keeping your child with you is best for him, then it's much easier to not worry about what others think.
There is a church in our neighborhood that I wanted to try, but as soon as I learned that they are very strict about not allowing children in church, I decided not to attend. I knew I would not find other like minded families in that church (for the most part) and keeping my children with me was extremely important to me as I knew it would foster the values that we are instilling in our children. Family is very important and should be very strong. Strong families are those that do things together, including worship and learning. I hope that more and more churches will embrace the family rather than tearing it apart with family fragmenting activities.
14th October 2012 05:58 PM #5
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- Sep 2012
Many thanks Kate!