It is difficult to know when to begin putting your foot down with children. As babies, many times, we are the ones that are trained . . . they cry and we feed them, change them, hold them, put them to bed and so on.
I tried to get mine on a schedule as quickly as possible, mostly because I do not function well on little sleep. Filling their bellies and making them wait for about 3 hours before feeding them again trains them. Whereas waiting until they cry to be fed trains you. Hmmm . . .
It continues as they get older and begin wanting things. Our church is a family centered church which means that the children stay with the parent throughout the entire service and there is no children’s programs available. When my children were little, we sat in the back row near the bathrooms so that I could make a quick escape with a noisy child. My children did not tell me they wanted to go to the nursery; I didn’t allow it. They learned to sit and play quietly in the service.
If one of the children became noisy and me tapping them did not stop it immediately, we went into the bathroom where I corrected them and then we promptly returned to our seats.
One weekend I had my grandson in church with us. He is not yet two years old and this was last year some time as I recall. At any rate, we sit near the front and we did not change that this day. He got a bit fussy and loud, so I took him to the lobby and quieted him. When he stopped fussing, I took him back into the sanctuary but sat on the back row, in case I needed to escape again quickly, which I did about 15 minutes later. These are valuable times and worth missing the service if necessary for a few services to train the child that they must be quiet in service. I could still hear the speaker via the sound system, as I adjusted our little fellow’s attitude. He finally saw the light and we went back in for the remainder of the service.
This is how you train your child. If you are not training your child then you are the one being trained. Yes, sometimes it is easier just to give in and do what will keep them quiet in the moment but is that really teaching them the thing you want them to learn.
Also, giving them too many things to occupy them for the service time is not really training them to pay attention or sit and listen either. I do not believe a child should have an electronic device in a service; there are probably rare exceptions but is your child really an exception? Teaching a child to sit and write, draw, or color during service are a good idea. I even have some links to some printable listening pages you can print out for your children to use in services. There are even some set up so that pre-readers can use them.
Remember the Bible tells us to train our children not just to raise them. We also need to be setting good examples, being the best role models we can be for them. That means that you should be paying attention to the speaker too and not on facebook or doing something else on your phone. I know there are Bible apps on the phones now days, but if the temptation is too great to get sidetracked, maybe you’re better off with a printed Bible and notebook too.
I hope you’ve endured my rant and don’t hate me.
Until next time, God bless,