Children in Church
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Children in Church
I'd like to find out how many other 4 year old boys can't sit
still and quiet in church for 20 mins. My child fidgets, does
all the things that get him in trouble, giggles, goes out to
the ailes and brings attention to himself and then when
children's time comes up, won't go up by himself and rather not
go up at all. I haven't seen one kid like this at my church
and when I expressed my concerns, one mom suggested I take him
in to get evaluated by a doctor. We have a doctor in the family
and he thinks he's fine... but that could be bias... and then I
think like every other field, doctoring can be very subjective.
Does your kid sit still at church? Are the kids at my church an
unusual bunch of angels?
First of all I don't think I've ever seen a child that age
sitting quietly in church. I am really surprised that the other
mom told you to have your child evaluated. Most children fidget
especially if they have nothing to do. Bring some books, paper,
crayons, some match box cars or some of his favorite toys. A
sippy cup also might come in handy.
My children are 7 and 6 and they get bored after a while so I
always have a supply of things to do at hand and I've seen that
most of the other parents use the same strategy to get their
kids through the 1 hour mass.
Oh, and of course there is the after mass playground time that
gives them something to look forward to.
In our church, my two-year-old and my six-year-old attend the
main service for approximately 10 minutes before the minister
announces that it's time for the kids to go to their nursery
and/or Sunday school classes. Within that space of time, I've had
to stop them from crawling over the pews, running down the
aisles, taking out the song books and donation envelopes and
drawing all over them, playing noisily with a toy car of stuffed
animal, etc. I really try to restrain them and take them out of
the service occasionally but they are very active kids and egg
each other on so I've just learned to endure it. It's getting a
little bit better and it's important to me that they be exposed
to a regular spiritual practice so we'll keep going with them but
it really is a headache sometimes.
Don't be discouraged. Your child is completely normal.
Gee, 4 seems young to be sitting in church. Seems like the average
4-year-old would get pretty antsy after sitting still for even just
a few minutes, whether it's church or anything else. I wouldn't
take my 4-y-o to a wedding or a concert, for instance. Can you
try to find something else for your 4-year-old to do while you
are in church? Maybe do a trade-off with other parents so only
one person has to miss the service instead of all the parents
with little kids? I can remember being bored when I was 9 or 10.
It was probably only about a 40-minute service but to me it was
My 4 year old couldn't sit through church either, but we are
fortunate to have an excellent nursery for the young ones and
childrens church for the kids pre-K - 2nd grade. Maybe your son
isn't old enough to attend church with you, is childcare
available? If not please speak with the clergy about the
possibility of hiring someone to help with the children during
at least one service a week. If you want your son included on
worship activites, perhaps the clergy could help find age
appropriate materials for you to take home and share with him in
a more child-friendly environment. I hope that things work out
for you, because you should be able to relax and enjoy the
church service too.
p.s. Your 4 year old is perfectly normal, my 45 y.o. husband has
a hard time sitting still and quiet. ha ha
my 3yo girl nor 5yo boy cannot sit still in church. in fact,
they often end up on the floor. luckily, there are other places
for the kids to go during worship (childcare or children's
church). i see very few kids (usually girls) that can sit still
the whole time. your child is NORMAL!!
Please don't be over-concerned about this! Four years old is
pretty young to be expected to be quiet in church, even for 20
minutes. (My kids still have trouble at 9 and 11!) These little
guys (and girls) are used to being active, walking around,
talking, etc., so to expect them to be able to sit still and
listen to womething they don't understand and have no interest in
is just setting yourself, and them, up for failure.
The church I attend has packets for the kids to keep them
occupied--crayons, pictures to color, and stuff like that. If your
church doesn't, maybe you can put one together to take yourself.
Or, we also have a ''waiting area'' just outside the sanctuary,
where you can either sit or stand but still see and hear the
service. That way he can move about and you can still participate
in the early moments of the service.
As for not wanting to go up--it could be that he's intimidated by
walking all the way up in front of all those people. Why don't you
try to walk up with him, and sit in one of the front rows where he
can see you? My kids were shy about going up for a while, but
having me go up with them got them over the hump.
I truly do not think there's a problem with your active guy. With
some practice he'll eventually be able to get through ''big church''
Good luck and don't worry,
Sounds like a very normal 4 y.o. boy to me- nothing wrong with
him. Church is boring to little guys, if they have a good
imagination and are healthy and active, they feel the need to
find ways to amuse themselves. Bring little toys- we bring a
small baggie of Lego. Can't believe anyone who has brought kids
to church would try to tell you this is abnormal.
Pediatrician and Mom of 4 y.o. boy
I started going to church with my son when he was 2.5. It was a
big deal teaching him to be reasonably quiet at church--by which
I mean whispering instead of talking, and staying within our pew.
I allow him to use the pew envelopes, cards, and pencils for
drawing, and to fidget on & off the seat and even onto the floor.
I draw the line at him leaving our pew or continuing to talk in a
normal voice. I've been pretty successful by reviewing ''inside
voice'' before we go in, and by threatening to take him to the
nursery (childcare) if he's too disruptive--and by carrying out
that threat when necessary.
Is it possible you're more embarrassed than need be? I've found
my church to be very accepting of minor noise from my
now-3.5-yr-old. Maybe you should ask around...
The kids you see in church are the ones who can sit still --
parents of the active kids may not even attempt taking their
children to church. I felt bad about my daughter for similar
behavior (in synagogue) and wished I had one of those kids who
would quietly sit next to me, and not need me to stay with her
during the kindergarten program. I spent most services hanging
out at the synagogue playground while she played. It does get
better. Now, at seven, she'll sit with me for a little while,
and is able to go to the children's program or play outside
independently when there isn't a children's service. She did
learn lots of bible stories during those years (even when she
wandered around the room), and feels very attached to our
synagogue. I think you should just figure that for the moment
your church experience is going with your son to the children's
program and remember that this stage will pass. I also think
that the person who commented about your son may have been one
of those lucky people with easy kids and should have withheld
judgement (maybe she'll learn with her next child). It's
possible that you need to find a more family-friendly church if
many people are like that; though I suspect that most people
Expecting a 4 year old to sit still during a church service is a
tall order. Some can handle it better than others but I
certainly don't think anything is wrong with your son and would
be a little surprised at the suggestion to have your
son "checked out".
Do they have a child care program so that parents can attend
If it's really a problem, can invest in a sitter for a while and
try taking him again in a few months? Or maybe you can use some
reward system. "If you sit still through the service, and go up
for the children's sermon, you can't go out to brunch with me,
rent your favorite video," what ever works for your son. Let
him know that there can be results for good behavior.
this page was last updated: Jun 16, 2006
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