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Are you ever embarrassed because your child(ren) won’t sit still in church or in other situations which require it? (Has any mother not had this experience?) Read this to find out what my mother-in-law taught me–it worked!
Do you require your children to sit with you in church? If not, why not? Have you ever considered it? In our church we don’t have a nursery, Sunday School, or Children’s Church. And we have a 2-hour service! And there a lot of children. You might be saying, “What do you do with the kids?! How does anyone hear anything? The moms must spend all their time out in the hall somewhere! They must never be able to participate in the service!” Nope. There’s some crying, some whining, and you do see parents leaving the community center where we meet, taking their child “out” into the parking lot or to their car because they’re screaming. Sometimes mothers or older siblings will take a child to the kitchen during the service, but it’s not a large space, and it is fairly rare. There are parents standing and walking in the back with their little ones, but it’s not distracting. Generally speaking, it’s pretty good. The children are, for the most part, well-behaved.
These tips might help. Don’t expect perfection right away. And don’t wait until you’re in a silent church to train. First of all, have practice sessions with your child on how to sit still when you are at home. It’s not really fair to you or your child to try to start training for the first time in church or when you’re both under pressure to “perform.”
So, at home, every few days, sit your child in a chair and make him sit absolutely still for 30 seconds (you can make it a game–start with less time, then increase the time, as in rounds). Give lots of praise and rewards.
When you have family devotions and/or reading aloud times, use these as practice times in which they must be still and silent and pay attention. One young mom shared that her husband reads with the baby in his lap, holding baby’s hands still with one hand while he holds the book in the other. All of these experiences help.
Never stay away from events because your children will not be quiet. Expect them to obey. Expect them to learn. Do not give them (or yourself) excuses. JUST KEEP ON TRAINING. The embarrassment of my children behaving badly was strong motivation for me to work harder to train them.
What My Mother-In-Law Taught Me
Here is a training tip which has stood the test of time. It was passed down to me 25 years ago when I was a new mom by an older woman and man, who had raised 6 rambunctious children—my mother and father-in-law! We practiced it with our little children and it worked amazingly well!
They told us to tell them to sit still and be quiet, expect them to obey, and if they didn’t, to take them out, give them a spanking, and bring them back in to the service. Every time they disobeyed, take them out, discipline them swiftly and without fuss, and bring them back in again.
I know you were expecting something more “impressive” to do. But that’s it. Especially when they’re quite small, it doesn’t take long for them to get the picture. Fussing, making a disturbance, and not sitting still causes pain! And it doesn’t get me out of the service! For those old enough to understand, explain the behavior that is expected from them in church (to remain in their seat, sit still and be quiet, etc.). Give them things to do, such as coloring tools, paper and crayons, small book to look at, etc., if you so desire, but if they’re old enough to stand up (age 1-1/2 to 2) and especially if they can read, expect them to stand and sit at appropriate times, to sing and pray and participate (at their level). (You or an older brother or sister can help them if they can’t hold the hymnal, stand by themselves, etc.) Tell them what will happen if they don’t sit quietly or are creating a disturbance, (they will be taken out and spanked calmly, quietly and immediately, made to return to the service, and expected to sit still and be quiet).
They assured us, with a twinkle in their eye, and a chuckle, that it wouldn’t take long for our little darlings to figure out how to sit still! Taking them out of the service for discipline will happen as many times per service as is necessary, but they will never be “rewarded” for disobedience by being allowed to leave the service permanently. (Many children have the free run of the kitchen, hallway, etc., with Mommy or Daddy chasing after them! Or worse yet, playing with other “naughty” children whose parents took them out, too! If I were a small child, I’d act up, too! The rewards are great!) (I especially loved it when we were at my inlaws’ church. Because they were the ones who’d suggested this procedure, my husband would always be the one who took our children out to administer the discipline himself, since they were his parents! “Positive peer pressure” or “parental pressure” works wonders!)
I know what you’re thinking. I will spend every Sunday humiliated, and going in and out of the service, disrupting everyone over and over! No, you won’t. It may take longer with some children. And, if you’ve trained them to wear you down, they’ll keep trying. You must administer the discipline unemotionally, calmly, quickly, and get right back into the service! Believe me, it will not take very many services, if you are consistent (calmly, quickly and firmly administering discipline, without emotion on your part or cajoling) before they will sit quietly in church. (Reinforce with training sessions at home.)
“Do not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season you shall reap, if you faint not.” Your testimony depends on you keeping on well to the end of your child-training. Don’t get tired and slack off with your younger children. Pray for strength and God will give it.
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