Do you struggle with keeping your little ones with you in church? Today, I want to talk about how to teach your children to sit through church. The tips I’m about to share are all things that we taught our children. I well remember the days that we struggled with staying in the service with our children. Many times I ended up in the nursery, unable to hear any of the services.
*I want to make a quick note here and say that when our children are super young, it’s not realistic to expect them to sit through a church service. Having young children is a season for lots of grace and recognizing what is developmentally age-appropriate. I’d also remind you not to compare your children with other children. No two children are exactly alike and the age that they are able to sit still will be very different from child to child. I also want to say that my children are still not perfect, even as older children. I’m not interested in raising robots, just decently well behaved children.
How to teach your children to sit through church
#1: It begins at home.
We cannot expect our children to know how to behave at church if we haven’t taught them to do so at home.
Some ways that we practiced at home:
-We expected our children to stay sitting at the table during meals.
In order for this to be successful, we didn’t linger and linger at the table. The expectation was that they would sit until everyone was done eating. After that, they were free to leave the table, while the parents chatted.
-We read stories to them beginning as young as 4 months old.
Yes, I expected them to sit still during the time I read them stories. When my children got mobile, it was really hard for them to sit still for a time. During those times, I would pick the very shortest of stories and praise them like crazy when they sat still for the whole time.
-We practiced blanket time.
Blanket time is a practice I learned from the Babywise books by the Ezzo’s. Basically, you lay out a blanket on the floor and pick 4-5 different toys or books. You place the child on the blanket for a set amount time (which is pre-determined by the parent) and set a timer. This is difficult to teach because it takes a lot of patience to place the child back on the blanket each time they get off until they learn this, but it helps tremendously with sitting in church. When I started this practice, I began with one minute on the timer.
-We practiced sitting on the couch.
At one point, I was planning to go to a wedding with all three children by myself. Because of this, I practiced sitting with my then 2-year-old son. We set the timer for a predetermined amount of time and we sat together on the couch. Because of all this practice, the wedding ended up going really well and I only had to take my 2-year-old out one time.
#2: Praise is super important.
In my opinion, this is not a time to be disciplining for miss-behavior. I think praise goes a long way to teaching little ones how to sit still.
-Remember to be patient.
I would suggest to not practice this when you are feeling impatient or frustrated. I’ve always struggled with being impatient as a Mom, so I totally messed up in this area regularly.
-Don’t practice sitting still when you are in a hurry.
This relates to above. You won’t have patience when you are in a hurry.
#3: We brought quiet toys and books.
We tried to pick less used toys and books for church so they wouldn’t be as used to them. Most of the time, it worked well.
This is a quick overview of how we taught our children to sit (decently) still in the church. Lest you think our children were/are always perfect in church, let me assure you that they are not. I don’t believe in expecting perfection, but I do believe in age-appropriate expectations. Tell me, how you teach your children to sit still in church?
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*All Photos are my own*