Works for Me Wednesday Backwards Edition

This week is backwards week over at Rocks in My Dryer- so instead of sharing what works for me, I am asking what works for you?
My question is how do you get a 2 year old to sit still and quiet for 1 hour? We want to bring our middle one into church with us but know he would want to talk and run around. What do you do to train them to be still and quiet without interrupting church? Any tips or tricks you can share with this novice mama :) ?

13 comments

Scrawny Mommy said...

My (very active) son is allowed to color (with only one or two crayons to prevent distraction) in a coloring book. For my own peace of mind, I usually have him use Christian-themed ones so it's not a complete loss:)

Stacy said...

I can't wait to here other ideas. Our five year old now sits through church, but I'm nervous about bringing my two year old in.

Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

I blogged on this at: www.smockityfrocks.blogspot.com/2007/09/children-in-church.html

amy said...

My first was a very strong-willed, wiggly two year old. Marshmallows, of all things, ended up being a key to calm Sundays. Anything sweet was a rare treat and the fruity pastel mini marshmallows were his favorite. Every Sunday I put 10 of them in a baggie and he got them when the sermon started, but only if he had been a good boy.
Another thing that worked great with him, even at a very young age:
He was allowed a bag of small, quiet toys to play with during worship. If he refused to behave himself, we would leave the toys in our seat and go out to a bench in the foyer where he had to be perfectly still & quiet. I explained to him that he could be naughty & sit on the bench, or he could choose to be a good boy & stay with his toys. It only took two Sundays of sitting on the bench for him to choose to be quiet :o)

UKZoe said...

Don't bring them to our church where parents of young children seem to have taken the unilateral decision that it's ok for them to run around the room making as much noise as they like, even during the sermon.

I think a lot depends on how fidgety the child is. For those that do sit still, colouring seems to work well, as does small food that doesn't make a mess. We have chairs rather than pews and I would sit on the floor with the children, who were colouring or playing with small toys or whatever, when mine were little, I could still hear the sermon from down there, but I could also make sure the kids were ok too.

Jeana said...

There is an excellent book that helped us immensely. Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman. Not only did it help with the kids, it really reformed my ideas about worship.

Amy said...

Parenting in the Pew is a awesome book. Watch what they eat before coming in because it could cause hyper-activity. Also use star stickers to place on their clothes. Each time they get into trouble take a star, when all are taking it's time for discipline. Two is really young to train but practice at home. Make them sit still and play church. I trained my oldest when he was two by waiting until the sermon to give him a bag of goldfish, etc. My youngest was 3 when we brought him into service.

Amy W said...

Lots of good tips here for you already! Here’s what works for our family- we pack a small bag exclusively for church and rotate the toys etc. in it every other Sunday to keep it interesting. We love Color Wonder pads and markers from Crayola as it doesn’t end up marking on anything if they color off the page (I remember my oldest and a crayon that ran amuck . . . .), a picture Bible that they can flip thru, since I have a boy- his bag has a few little tractors and trains. Paper and stickers (again the stickers are purchased special and only for church). Picture flash cards are another fun choice (we have a set of Noah’s Ark matching cards our little guy loves).We have him stand with us (or hold him) when we sing and encourage him to sing too- this helps with some of the wiggles. We also give him money to put in the offering plate (should I mention the time he put his money in and then took it out again? He doesn’t do that any more- LOL).
There have been less than pleasant times too- just keep it up- our boy is 3 now and behaves remarkably well in church. Stick thru the rough patches, pray and remembering that you are helping to develop a habit that will reap a lifetime of rewards.

T with Honey said...

I have been bringing my daughter to church since she was 1 week old. She is so familiar with going to mass that at 2.5-years old she knows what is expected of her.

She has only ever been allowed to bring one book or quiet toy with her to church. Somewhere around the 2 year mark I started to demand more of her. I found out that the Amish have their children start attending worship when they are that age. Those children are expected, and do sit quietly for the entire service. I thought, if they can do it so can my child.

I explained that we are at church to pray. During mass if she acts up I remind her that I am praying and it is quiet time.

We also sit closer to the front so she can see what is going on. It is amazing how often she will watch the people reading or our priest celebrating mass as if she were at home watching TV.

The key is that we interact with her as little as possible and keep our attention where it should be... on the church service. Sounds cold and harsh but it really does work. But setting a good example she knows how to behave and does not get rewarded for acting up.

Mommy, the Human Napkin said...

Here's what we do with our seven-, four-, and three-year-olds. They each bring their own Bible and are in charge of keeping up with it. We had each of them in the service with us from the time they were born and never used the church nursery except when I had to leave the service to nurse one of them, and I brought them back after we were done. They've always known they were to be quiet and sit still, but actually getting them to do that was a challenge. We tried letting them bring small quiet toys, but stopped after one went flying once. Luckily, our church friends are very understanding and we have several family members and other people who will let one of the kids come sit with them during the service sometimes. I keep small notepads and pencils in my purse in case they get too rowdy (and their great uncle keeps mints in his pocket, too). As a disciplinary measure, our younger two have had to sit in Mommy or Daddy's lap. And the occassional light swat on the leg helps, too, but we haven't had to do that in a long time. If I had real troubles with them being too loud or disruptive, I'd take them outside or in the hallway and spank them. But our kids usually act better in front of other people than they do at home, so that rarely happens.

Kristy said...

I think it's important for kids to be in church services at least part of the time and not just in children's classes the entire time. I think it's good for them to see what the adults do and realize that church is not just play time. I also think it is important for them to learn to sit quietly and not be disruptive in church. So, with that being said.. here are my suggestions. I pack a small backpack for each child and in it there is a small snack (usually marshmallows or grapes, but you want to make sure it's a quiet snack. Nothing crunchy!) There is also a few crayons and a pad of bank paper. And then I rotate toys each week. For my daughter I will put in a small baby doll and a baby blanket or lacing cards, or small activity books like mazes, etc. For my son I have added small plastic toy animals or dinosaurs, lacing cards (although he can't really do them that well yet. He still likes to try!) and stickers that are only allowed to be stuck in the notebook. I have brought toy cars in the past and found them too noisy. You want to make sure that you are enforcing your quiet rule with the toys you bring. If bringing cars will make your child want to drive them along all the tops of the pews and through the aisles then don't bring them. If baby dolls will want to "talk" then don't bring them. Good luck! And good for you for wanting to take your child to church! They are a blessing and should not be pushed to the side during our church services. It is important for them to feel that they are a part of the church too, not just a distraction to be sent off to class. And I do feel that there comes a point when it is important for kids to stop bringing toys and start listening and participating but little kids are not going to listen anyway! It is a personal choice as to what age you set for when they are no longer allowed to bring toys.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

We've kept our little ones with us in church for most of their lives (my oldest is 2.5). Currently we do have good childcare/chapel offered, and sometimes we take advantage of that, but even then we choose to bring our 2.5 year old into church with us for at least half of the service. Because he's been doing it all his life, we haven't had much trouble. He knows that this is a place to be quiet and he generally complies.

We go to a liturgical church where there is always something "happening", so we encourage him to watch and participate as much as he can. He also gets lots of snuggles/hugs during the service, which he likes.

We have chosen not to allow toys/coloring books/etc. during church. We want him to grow up participating, rather than having to decide at some point that he is now "old enough" and has to stop playing with toys. That just sounds like a battle we don't want to deal with! :)

Oh, one thing that we haven't used yet but intend to soon: during the sermon have your kiddo listen for a certain word (Jesus, angel, love, etc.) that you pick in advance. In theory, he'll listen better because you've created a more active situation for him...he's DOING something while listening.

Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

I did not expect my kids to sit still in church IF they weren't trained to sit still at home.

SO, we practiced times of sitting still and focusing on quiet play daily. Even from infancy, when they could sit up, crawl, etc. there were times in the day when I trained them to stay quietly in a small area. This way we had an instant play pen without needing the pen : )

Initially I used a blanket to define the area. There were times I drew a square in the dirt. As they grew older they didn't need the visual boundary anymore and sat quietly on the pew because they were obeying my voice to do so.

We had "quiet toys" which were only used for church: Flannelgraph things, board books, puzzles that didn't rattle. We taught them to stand and sing, clap, whatever when the whole congregation was doing so. Also how to move and stretch quietly.

I always included a quiet, one-piece-at-a-time snack about half-way through.

I drew pictures of broad concepts the preacher discussed, much as Edith Schaeffer described in her biography "The Tapestry".

Those were sweet days : )

deb meyers