How Do I Keep My Children Quiet in Church?

Planning and perseverance can help with your children.

Heather Godfrey, a pastor's wife in Australia, shares ideas from the South Pacific Division on how pastors' wives cope with small children during church

Regardless of one's nationality, environment or childcare expertise, most parents have found them­selves trying to keep their children quiet during the church service. Several women from the South Pacific Division agreed to share their ideas about how they keep their children quiet during church.

All the women agreed having a Sabbath bag which is used only for church is a good idea. The bag should be filled with quiet things such as felts, books, soft toys, etc.

Meredith Cousins says it is important to keep Sabbath things just for Sabbath. That way the children will look forward to playing with those items because they are special. She also carries a roll of sticky tape wherever she goes. She says the children can sticky tape their arms, shoes, legs, chairs, eyes and mouths and they love it. Keeping a supply of "peel-off" stickers provides hours of fun for youngsters. While the stickers are great for church, they also work well if the family is kept waiting in the car for something. The stickers may be placed on the car windows, and then removed with ease.

Glenda Harker recommends practicing how to be quiet during worship service. Children learn by doing, and this activity may be practiced at home. If you have junior age children, encourage them to read the Junior Guide during the church service. Listening to the sermon and marking down how many times "God" or "Jesus" is said can interest many children, according to B. D'Costa.

Karen Sim takes along a small supply of toys (not rattles). She also carries a juice bottle with her. Every parent experiences a time when a child continues to fuss. Ms. Sim suggests taking the child out of the sanctuary at that time. However, once the child quietens down, it is important to return to the sanctuary.

Browsing at the Adventist Book Center is a treat for Melissa Urquhart's children. They pick out age-appropriate books they want to take to church. Ms. Urquhart also encourages parents to sit in areas where the children have a little room to move around. A little space seems to keep the children happier longer.

"Sitting a child on each side of you helps keep the noise to a minimum," states B. McCurty. She also suggests letting babies have their bottles at the same time as the sermon. Most babies will sleep after a bottle.

Reverse the Sabbath school and Church service. Merlene finds that after much activity in Sabbath school, it is hard to calm child­ren down. If church is first, the children comerested and are more likely to be quiet.

Lagi Puni said, "When my two girls were at the ages of two and three, I made a very special box and put in two little picture Bibles. They weren't allowed to open it until Sabbath during the divine service, and by then they looked forward to opening that box. That kept them quiet. I always put something special in that box every Sabbath for years."

Finally Heather shares her experiences with us. "Our first two were like chalk and cheese. One was quiet and the other.,.! Well, it was a case of trying to think ahead, especially when we had two Sabbath Schools and two divine services in the one day as well as all the travelling to get there. I always packed quiet books and a few quiet toys in my Sabbath bag. The children would be taken to the toilet between Sabbath School and Church, then they would be given a drink so they would be comfortable during the service. I never took food into the sanctuary. This can become a habit. A good breakfast is a must on Sabbath morning, especially if the service is likely to be prolonged. Children need to be taught what worship is all about. Teaching begins at home. Older children can be encouraged to take note of what the speaker is saying and either draw pictures on the topic, or follow the reading of the Bible texts in their own Bible. Because my husband is the minister and I know what the sermon is about, I often supply the children in the congregation with pictures or activities that relate to the sermon."

Though it is not always easy to keep the young one quiet during the church service, planning and perseverance pays off.

Heather Godfrey, a pastor's wife in Australia, shares ideas from the South Pacific Division on how pastors' wives cope with small children during church