i have 2 young children who will not listen to me, and they keep disrupting the church service. any ideas how to get them to sit still? i have tried toys, colors, candy, nothing seems to work. they just simply will not listen to me. i have took them outside, to the bathroom, punished when got home, i dont know how to get their attention. whats going on?
This is a tough one! I have 4 and 6 year old boys that we bring to church every week...some weeks are better than others!
First, I don't know exactly how young your kids are, but if they're younger than 7, I don't think it's realistic that they will "keep still" during a church service. Most church services don't have what it takes to keep kids' attention. You can, however, expect them not to be disruptive to other people. Here are some things you can try:
We bought a small canvas bag for each kid and each week I fill them with "busy tasks" and I try to make sure there's always something different. I might put a few colorful pipe cleaners (for them to make animals and people out of), a few pages of a coloring book, some markers (the kind that don't have lids so they don't drop them!), an individually packaged snack like a small bag of crackers or goldfish (no sugar to make them crazy!). I also put in a small board book for them to look at and one of their small "beanie baby" sized animals. Things that are small, not noisy or messy, and will keep their attention for a few minutes. I don't give them their bag until we're sitting in the pew. It works really well.
When you're not in church, you can have a chat with them about acceptable church behavior. Let them know that they don't have to sit perfectly still the whole time but that they can't stand up or run. Tell them it's ok to whisper to you but that it's not ok to yell or to talk in a loud voice to each other. Try to help them understand how important church is for your family and for the other families there and that it's a quiet place to spend time together. I'd also try to set up a positive reinforcement system. Let them earn a star for each time they behave well in church. When they receive 3 or 4 stars they can earn a prize like going out for lunch after church or buying a new toy or book.
Also, if it's possible, go to a church that is "family friendly" If your minister and the other people in the church frown on any wiggling or whispering, it's probably not fair to them - or to your kids - to bring your young family. If you're feeling pressured to have your kids behave like adults, you may want to check out another church or see if your church has a "family service" each week where you and your kids would feel more comfortable. Our church has the kids in the service for the first 10 or 15 minutes and then they go to Sunday School. That works pretty well. Everyone at the church just knows that the beginning of the service is going to be a bit chaotic!
I think the important thing is to try to make going to church a positive experience. If they get in trouble every time they go, they're probably not going to like it very much which means they'll just resist it more and more each week.
I attended a parent teacher metting where a children's counselor spoke about children and disciplining. One method proposed for children that misbehave in public is to talk to the kids before leaving for your next outing. You tell them where they are going and the prupose for the outing. You then tell them how they should behave or there will be a consequence when they get back home. The counselor stressed you must say the consequence e.g. We will go to the park so you can have some play time. While at the park I expect you to be on your best behavior and when it is time to go home, I expect you to listen to me and not throw a tantrum. If you do not behave you will not be able to watch any tv for the rest of the day once we get home. When the kids don't listen they're testing their limits to see how far you will let them go. If something repetitive they know they have control. Be firm and stick your ground! If time-outs are given the counselor said one minute for every year of age. Once time out is over you ask your child why he/she was given time-out to see if they understand what's going on. My child likes to try to push my buttons as well and has selective hearing. If she doesn't like what I say she runs to daddy (the pushover). I tell him to step-out that way you are not undermined and you show your children you mean business. As for going to church...I have an infant who will not keep still either...I usually stand in the back with my infant and explain to her what's going on in the mass and why we pay respects...that's what worked for me...I hope it will help you.
I hope my other long post went through! I had to add one thing. Practice at home with audiobooks and sermons. Start short and increase length. Read good books to them often. That really helps increase their attention span. Hope this helps someone!