Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sitting Still in Church

This morning at church, I sat in front of a family with seven children.  They didn't make a peep or fidget.  I was in awe.  The youngest is a busy 2-year-old boy.

Until Mr. Intensity turns five, he is allowed to go to children's church.  In a few weeks he will join us with the other adults.  I am fearfully dreading bringing him into the sanctuary.  He lives with ants in his pants.

So, at a church picnic tonight I singled out the blessed mother of the seven and drilled her.

"How the heck did you get them to sit so still?  and so quiet?!"

For the sake of brevity (I want to go to bed but wanted to post this marvelous idea), she said, "We started by listening to tapes on the couch.  They had to sit still or there were consequences (spankings).  Short increments at first then gradually lengthened the time."

She went on to say that in the beginning she brought coloring books and toys into the sanctuary to keep their attention.  But this became a distraction, to her as well as other worshipers.  In her words, "I had to re-train them to sit still and listen.  We started with 5 minutes of listening to a sermon on tape."

The novelty.  Ingenious idea.

I asked if, during their family worship time at home, the children had to sit still.  They are allowed to play quietly with blocks on the floor.  This is after they have mastered the skill of sitting on the couch and listening.  If the block building becomes too rambunctious the child goes to the couch to listen.

Guess what our family will be practicing this week during family worship?

I'd love to hear other ideas of training children to sit still on Sunday morning. 


i said...

i love how you post such simple things as this. it's always interesting as we teach our 3 to sit during the sacrament service. great insight!

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

So far (and we are obviously still in process with SOME), it has helped to never send them to Children's Church in the first place. Gabriel, for instance, has been to the "nursery" maybe a handful of times ever in his life! Saylor was the same way, and she is our best church-sitter at four years old.

I second the no toy thing. Right now Gabe is allowed one or two small toys at a time. But the bigger two kids get nothing. Eventually, as Gabriel's attention span increases, he will be given less and less to "entertain" him.

John and Pam said...

I am amazed. Let us know how it works.

Erika said...

Fabulous idea...I'm going to give that a try!

Iris said...

i think God led me to your blog just when He did for a reason - to help me raise my baby boy! even though kekoa is only 15 months and JI is almost 5, i am learning so much from you! thanks for sharing - keep um comin!

Anonymous said...

My fidgeting son is 9 and is now outgrown Children's Church and is starting in the service with us next Sun. I am reading this GREAT book, "Parenting in the Pew" that was highly recommended by another blog, "Se7ven". It is teaching me to rethink my own ways of worship and how I was taught to worship. Amazing info-Check it out! Hopefully I will have it figured out by the time my now 4 year old joins us.

My Boys' Teacher said...

I loved this post over at Mommy Life (she has some SERIOUS experience with this) about this issue.

Heather said...

So, how did it work out? My 3 year old stays with us in church because he doesn't want to go his class. We don't think church should be a punishment, but he must sit with us quietly. The idea of working on it at home is genius.

We visited a church recently that had nothing for the kids and keeping a then 4,2 and 15mo sitting quietly was quite challenging...

Julie said...

Heather: today was his first day in "big church" and he did smashingly! (nothing was smashed, that is. :)

In all seriousness, Hubby and I were very proud of how well Mr. Intensity did today.

Yay for practice!
Yay for answered prayers!

Anonymous said...

We ended up changing churches to a contemporary church that did offer a children's church through fourth grade during the worship hour. We felt that developmentally it is too much for many temperaments to have to sit still for over an hour when the material in a sermon is over their head intellectually. As a teacher, we are taught that children can rarely sit that still that long, and if they do, then we asked ourselves, "What are the children really getting out of this time?" Besides just sitting still and trying to obey, we realized that not much Biblical learning was happening for such a young child in the pew. So, we are happy in a church that offers age-appropriate programming for our kids until they CAN get some learning out of the sermon.


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