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14 Responses to Tips for Managing Children During a Worship Service

  1. Rachael  

    I was raised Catholic and probably went to Mass every Sunday from the time I was an infant. There was a year or two, though, when we did not go to church as a family. My dad would take me and one of my sisters, and my mom would go to a later Mass on her own. The reason? My youngest sister would merrily dance up the aisle, all the way to the altar if not caught first. There was no holding her back!

    • Laura

      Ha! The dancing in the asiles thing is AWESOME! My friend once had a child race to the alter during Daily Mass. The priest looked at him and said, “Now, son, don’t go rushing into the preisthood!”

  2. Amber

    Good tips! Mostly, I think the most important thing is to keep taking them back. I’ll admit, I’m not always the best at this- sometimes I get tired of everyone looking down their nose at me for trying to keep H in the service. But for us, it’s important that he learns worship and is discipled *by us*. Certainly the nursery and the children’s staff are awesome, but I want him to learn those things from me. I feel like it is more likely to become part of him that way too. Kudos for hanging in there and taking them back every week.

    • Laura

      Yes, I think you are right. Parents def. should take their children back again, if at all possible. I do admit the nursery has a time and place (we used to use it) but being a part of the service can be important too!

  3. nita

    Really good article.

    The only other thing I was thinking is that because going to church was important to me in my life and I wanted not to be stressed about it I proactively practiced sit and play quietly beside me at home for a while every day. I think it’s too hard to go from free range play all day to sit still here by me without serious practice for busy little folks.

    • Laura

      That’s a good point. It would be helpful to work quiet play time into the day, like just sitting and coloring or looking at books. Maybe even at a specific time when Mom is busy, like cooking? Thanks!

  4. Christina

    Even though it increases the distance of “The Walk of Shame” we sit in the front. Also, being taken out to the cry room doesn’t mean the child gets a free pass to play. They are held or sit/stand/kneel right by us.

    • Laura

      “Walk of shame”- love it! Our church encourages parents to still participate in church, even if they are in the cry. It’s nice, though, because a child can still talk in their normal, non quiet voice (since kids don’t come with volume control!) and the general population won’t be bothered.

  5. Joy

    In addition to all these awesome tips, sitting in the front row helps too! (Believe it or not!) When kids can see it’s much easier for them to stay focused and engaged. Our almost two year old loves to watch the actions of the priest and really enjoys being close to choir/music offerings. We use the nursery as well…and our toddler joins us at the peace, which I find allows all of us to get some worship time in! Oh, and it REALLY helps if the clergy are clear that children are welcome as they are…not as people think they should be. And, just an FYI, I’m actually an Episcopal priest who is currently a stay at home mom and I find that child friendly clergy can help facilitate the presence of children in worship and temper the inevitable folks who complain about normal kid noise (“whispered” questions, mild fussing and fidgeting in the pews)

  6. Laura

    Thank you for your input! It’s always wonderful to hear from a minister who welcomes children to their church. Thank you!
    Our priest has actually said, “I know it is hard for families with small children to make it to church every week. Thank you for making the effort and we are glad you are here.” That was awesome to hear!

  7. Karen

    This is good. Another suggestion is to sit near the front, if they can see what’s happening, they pay more attention, near the side aisle can be good for a quick exit.
    Another thing is to realize that even with the best plans, you may need to miss mass at times, when I had 2 kids, I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have help, either my husband or inlaws.

  8. DJones

    Along the lines of kid friendly clergy…whenever one of our two acts up, Father always chimes in, “I baptized that baby, what did you expect?” It always gets a chuckle and returns everyone’s attention back to the service.

  9. 'Becca

    Great article! I agree, it’s totally worth the effort. I am an Episcopalian, while my partner does not belong to an organized religion, so our agreement was that I could take the nursing baby to church with me and then as he got older he could choose to be baptized and a member of the church or to stay home. He became very interested in learning about my faith when he was 2 1/2 and was baptized shortly after turning 3. He is 7 now and loves church. He refuses to go to Sunday School, though; he wants to be included in what adults were doing.

    Our church does not have a cry room. At times when I had to take him out because he was being disruptive, I made it as boring as possible rather than playing with him. That helped motivate him to go back to where the action is!

    I don’t allow snacking in church (other than nursing when he was a baby, and cough drops when needed) and I discourage toys. I tell him we let our tummies empty during the service to get ready for Communion (all baptized people can receive in our church; you don’t have to be a certain age) and we don’t play in ways that distract us from church. He sometimes brings a stuffed animal and “teaches” it about church. He also likes to draw during church and often draws pictures with a religious theme, sometimes a scene from one of the readings. I don’t let him bring a large number of markers because they could roll away and make a mess and noise, but he can bring a couple of colors and some paper.

  10. April Cook

    Worship service is important for all ages, but I know how difficult it can be with small children. I really like your first tip to feed them before the service starts. This helps for adults too! I’ve found it helpful to let kids pack their own bag of quiet activities that they can do during the service. It helps them to take responsibility for how the time is spent. Thanks for your helpful tips!