So far we have shared:
- 10 Tips to Introduce Your Child to Church
- 5 Expectation Tips to Set Before Attending Church
- 5 Tips to Keep Your Child Quiet During Church
I pray that these tips to prepare your child for church have been very helpful as you return to church after Covid. And while this is just a drop in the bucket of tips, no quiet activity, snack, or expectations will help the child be successful if prep and training doesn’t happen outside the church walls.
1. Prepare for Church
When I was a teenager we performed a skit called “Get Me to the Church on Time.” It made light of all the things that can go on wrong Sunday mornings as you prepare for church. While funny to watch, these landmines can bring the most organized momma to tears, which negatively affect her parental decisions.
To remove meltdowns, lost shoes, and forgotten Bibles, do everything possible the night before to minimize the morning craziness. For my family, this meant gathering clothes, eating a simple breakfast, and having the diaper bag packed the night before. To lessen my stress, I also found it helpful if I got ready before helping our children.
2. Practice Church
Practice is key. If you don’t expect obedience and quiet play at home, it won’t magically happen during a quiet church service. Here are some helpful blog posts and videos to begin practicing the behavior necessary in quiet settings (church, doctor’s office, funeral, etc).
- First-Time Obedience and Why It Is Important
- Teaching a Child to Play Independently
- What is So Important About Stick-to-itiveness?
- How to Parent and Discipline According to the Bible (Video Series)
- Parenting Video Playlist
Without going into all of the details, dangers, and statistics of why, please do not give the child an electronic to keep them quiet. With practice and training at home, children can learn (and it is important to learn) to participate in a church service.
3. (Role) Play to Set Expectations
Using dolls, Lego people, or action people, hold pretend church. Explain what is acceptable and what behaviors are not. Explain the reason “why” each behavior is expected (e.g. so others can listen, so others can learn, etc.). Then switch roles and have the child play the adult and you be the child. Have fun with this activity by behaving so that the child needs to explain why the “child” needs to be quiet during church.
Here is an example of role playing and how to set the expectations.
Role Playing with Lego Men to set the expectations.
Mommy: Bubs, I see that you brought your friends to church with you! That is wonderful. Church is ready to start. Let’s make sure that your Lego friends know how to make good choices. Can you please tell them the good choices we make at church? (While the child is talking, be sure to interject or pretend to be one of the Lego Men asking “why?” questions.)
Set Expectations Before Church
Mommy: Do you remember how good your Lego Men did sitting through church when we practiced at home? They did great. I want you to do the same thing today. I know that 30 minutes is a long time for you to sit so we are going to cut down the amount of time to make it easier. We will listen and obey for fifteen minutes. During that fifteen minutes I want you to play with your ___________ (e.g. Wonder Markers, Polly Pockets, draw on paper, etc). After the time is up, we will leave to get a drink. The time will go fast if you sit quietly. I know you can do it because you have been practicing at home! (If the child is motivated by a sticker chart, have one available at home.)
After a quick drink, set the expectations again and return to the sanctuary for another 15 minutes. Each week increase the amount of time until the child is able to sit quietly during the entire sermon.
If you have never seen children trained to sit quietly, it can be overwhelming. But God does not ask us to walk the parenting journey alone. There are probably some incredible grandmas and older mommas in your church who will give you direction if you ask for help. Most likely, they trained their child years ago when expectations were much higher. Ask them to teach your child to sit through church quietly and then mirror what they do. Watch everything because many times it is the little things that make all the difference.
Michelle shared this important tip on the ABCJesusLovesMe Facebook Group.
Before you leave and during church, pray. Continuously ask God for peace in your children’s hearts and a sense of calmness to fall over them. I truly believe God wants us to be “fed” in church and it is hard to be fed when we are constantly interrupted by our little treasures. The Holy Spirit will enter into your home, car, restaurant, and church if you pray for it!
Isn’t that good?
Because God desires us to drink from His Word and be encouraged by others while at church, He will provide what we need to make this happen.
One more post in this series! Be sure to come back next week and read… 5 Tips to Attend Church with a Special Needs Child
View the How to Survive Restaurants and Church with Wiggly Kids video of this series.