Getting Children to Sit Still in Church: Timely Tips on Tuesday

Faith's Firm Foundation
During Announcements on One Especially-Packed Sunday

I joined a conversation in progress during fellowship time after church on Sunday, of four young moms, having 19 children between them.  They were talking about the subject of children sitting still and listening in church.  We attend a Family Integrated Church, and our services are two hours long, so this is a significant subject!

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One mom was saying that she noticed one of the youngest members in a family of 11 children, who was sitting directly in front of her.  During the singing of hymns, she said, he kept his hands firmly planted on the top of the chair in front of him.  It was suggested that the family must have been “practicing church” at home.  A third mom (of 6 young children) mused that, even though she does practice at home, when they get to church, sometimes the training’s forgotten!  (Smiles and nodding of heads showed she wasn’t alone.)  Another mom of many–I think she has 8 children–who are a little bit older, said with a chuckle that maybe they needed to know the rod was nearby! to which the first mom patted her purse.  “Mom of many” said that she’s found this to be true sometimes at home, too.  Despite training and practice, her children won’t sit still and listen when she’s teaching or reading sometimes, but she’s noticed (said she with a twinkle in her eye) that when the “rod” that they use for discipline is sitting right out in front of the children, then they’re quiet.  They all laughed that maybe the speaker up front needed to hold a rod and wave it once in awhile during his talking!  (I pictured a shelf on the wall for the ceremonial placement of “the rod”:)  Now that would be funny.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29:15

Don’t we all need to “see the rod” to be reminded to obey at times?  This is just human nature.  Not only children, but adults are this way. Don’t we adjust our speed when we see the speed limit posted, or a police car going by?  Children in school adjust their behavior when the teacher walks in the room (or they used to when I was growing up)!  We also should adjust our behavior when we read the Word of God and are reminded of His commandments and the consequences for those who do not fear and obey God.

The rod and reproof both are needed in a child’s life, and if he needs to be reminded by seeing the rod–or knowing it’s handy in mama’s purse–well, that’s alright, too.

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8 Replies to “Getting Children to Sit Still in Church: Timely Tips on Tuesday”

  1. I also find out that some parents feel the need to hit, spank or whip their child hard enough to inflict severe pain and fear in their child to “show them who is the boss”. I then wonder is it not better to have no children.

  2. Hi Wendy.

    I just try to understand this. Are you saying that by pain and fear to force them by spanking(s) a child will make them sit still for 2 hours? That seems a little extreme? “rod”,” that they use for discipline is sitting right out in front of the children, then they’re quiet”. Could not that just make them afraid to sit still instead of they learn to try at their best.
    And what happens after you have used the rod if you have to take them out? I have read about some who can spank and spank and make them quite right after or more spanking is coming or they could face another hard spanking when they come home. I have a little hard time to understand this Wendy.

    My self was later diagnose as ADHD but back then many was looking at it as disobedient and got even spanked severe for it(hard pain mixed with sore marks that could make the child having hard time to sit after it and then the spanking(s) was escalated). I just try to understand it.

  3. I find the most difficult age is between 11-15 months old, before they really understand the sequence of cause and effect. When I do find it necessary to take the toddler out, I am sure to bring them right back in following discipline, so as not to accidentally “reward” them.

    1. You nailed it. They know just what they’re doing. Why shouldn’t a child act up if he will be rewarded with playing with his toddler friends and toys (in the nursery, in our church the kitchen, or wherever) and get out of sitting still in church! They will do it every time. They have way more perseverance than we do. The key, as my wise mil told me many years ago, is to bring them right back in every time, and keep it up until they learn it’s not going to work!
      Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. This is a great suggestion, Phyllis, for helping children mind. I used this last-minute instruction method when we went to the library. What’s expected, and what the consequences for disobedience were going to be. It does really help. The eye contact, too, is so important.

  5. We only have three children, but they are all less than 2 years apart so we had some busy years training them to be still when needed.

    Dan used to line them up just before we went in to church or (fill in the blank), have them each put their hands into his and look into his eyes. Then he would remind them of what we were going to be doing and what we expected of them.

    Those last minute instructions really seemed to help.

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