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Charles H. Betz, Family Life Consultant, Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Volume 2 Number 2

Revised 2005
Ten Ideas for Keeping Your Child Quiet in Church

1. Practice "quiet times" with your children at home during the week, giving them lots of closeness and hugs. A story, family worship, or any quiet activity teaches your child that moments of relaxation can be enjoyable. Ten to 20 minutes a day is a reasonable length of time-- depending on the age of the child. Also teaching your child about the true meaning of worship and that Jesus is their best friend, will help the child have a positive experience in the church pew. Daily family home worship prepares the child for weekly corporate church worship.

2. Plan ahead for quiet activities to be used only in church. Prepare a cloth bag full of quiet toys such as: children's books, color books with crayons, small felt boards with felts, and magic pads that are saved only for the church pew. Small children may get hungry and irritable, so bring a small plastic container filled with "Cheerios" or some other non-messy quiet food that can get them through the church service. When you exit, teach your child be sure to leave the church pew and floor clean.

3. A parent needs to sit between the children. When you allow children to sit together, it is much more difficult to keep them quiet.

4. When children are quiet in church, give them affirmation and reward them for it. This will help them repeat their good behavior. Express your appreciation in words or reward them with a new quiet toy to add to their "Sabbath bag."

5. If you make church an ordeal for children, they may learn to hate it. Never spank children for misbehavior in church, but rather take them out and quietly talk to them. A negative memory about church may lead to a dislike both for church and God.

6. Begin the child's worship experience in the training room, then "graduate" to the back pew.

7. Have realistic expectations based on the child's age and emotional makeup. Remember, "God put the wiggles in their legs and if you fight the wiggles, you are fighting God." This doesn't mean children should be allowed to be disruptive. When your child is around two years old, tell him or her the reasons for being quiet in church. Noise distracts others who want to worship. Explain that there is a time to run and play, and a time to be quiet. Impress on your children that God loves them and wants them there.

8. Crying babies should be taken out of the church service to avoid distracting others. Sometimes there is a physical reason--like soiled diapers or restricted movements. After the crying has stopped, return to the pew so that the child can understand "quiet time."

9. Regular church attendance is important. When the pattern of regular attendance is broken, it is more difficult for the child, as well as the parent, to get back into a "reverent attitude."

10. Children need to sit with their parents in the pew during church service, and they need to be under parental supervision all the time they are at the church. Children running loose in and out and all around the church without adult supervision can more easily get into trouble. Nor are they learning to show respect and reverence for God's house.

11. Look for a "Family Friendly" church that offers children's programs, children's story time during the church service, and social activities that involve the entire family. If you don't have a "Family Friendly" church, be a part of making it one!

12. A child can more easily learn to love worship if his or her personal felt needs are being met. God created us with specific human desires and parents need to make sure they are fulfilling those needs. Let the child feel heard and known for who he or she is. When children are not being heard, they may raise their voices or talk incessantly or even throw temper tantrums. It is also important to affirm your children and give them lots of genuine praise. Otherwise, they will grow up with no self-worth and will feel they must always let others know how wonderful they are. Help them feel safe. Children need food, shelter, protection, and to know that God is always by their side. Give them loving touches. Babies and children, who are not touched or held, may die. Your child needs to feel important to God, family, and friends. Otherwise, they may grow up being critical, legalistic, self-righteous, or co-dependant. Allow them to be social and make friends. Each child needs to feel that he or she belongs: to their parents, to God, and to the church.

"Let the sunshine from a loving, grateful heart light up the countenance . . .You must win their affection if you would impress religious truth upon their heart." (Child Guidance, p. 148)

Recommended Reading: Parenting In the Pew: Guiding Your Children Into the Joy of Worship, by Robbie Castleman





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