Sitting with young children in church can be frustrating, distracting, and downright patience exhausting!
I remember sitting in the pew with my two little girls and hoping we would make it through the sermon. My husband was busy upfront and our girls were 18 months and 4 years old. I was in the pew trying to occupy busy minds and hands and keep them quiet. My weeks of actually hearing a full sermon were on hold for who knew how long while I tried to occupy these two precious little busy daughters!
Fortunately, I had a very good role-model when I was a child and my mom was an excellent teacher to my brothers and me. Our dad was a pastor so every week my mom got to sit with three little children in church, by herself.
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Sitting with Children in Church
If you have spent any time sitting with young children in church you probably have some questions!
- My kids are little, how do I keep my kids quiet during church?
- How can I get my child to behave in church?
- I’m out of ideas! How can I help my child sit quietly in church?
The secret is having a well-stocked bag of tricks. We called this bag full of possibilities our quiet bag. Here are some of the all-time favorites for a well-stocked bag for sitting with young children in church.
My girls are in college now but I still take a bag to church every week and usually have two or more young children who sit with me. I love sharing my toys and books and my heart with these children to give their moms a break and give them a chance to listen to the sermon.
A few of our favorite things for sitting in church with a young child…
My very favorite things in my church bag are my Lauri puzzles. These puzzles are the greatest thing to keep little fingers quiet and occupied. They are soft and colorful. The company also stands behind their products and if you lose a piece, they will replace the piece for you! The puzzles in my church bag have lasted for nearly 20 years and still get used often by my little friends who currently sit with me each week.
Strings and Chenille Stems
My bag also includes lacing and stringing toys. These toys are great for very young children to learn hand-eye coordination as well as learning how to sort by colors, shapes, and sizes. I also have fat buttons and pipe cleaners (chenille stems) in a small purse or pouch. My little companions love to thread the buttons onto the pipe cleaners or laces and create all kinds of patterns.
The bag is not complete without a collection of small animals to play with on the pew. I look for little zippered purses or pouches at yard sales to store these little collections of buttons, animals, and other small items. It makes for a fun way for a child to open up the next thing to keep them busy and also contains all the little parts and pieces.
Felt quiet books
Felt quiet books are great for encouraging your child to create quiet stories while learning to listen. Some of these books include flaps, and other interactive features. They do take some cutting and assembly to get them ready for your bag. I have about 8 of these books and I keep them tucked into a large zip top plastic bag to keep the loose pieces of felt from getting lost in the bottom of the bag and also to help keep the felt books clean and in good repair.
Magnetic and paper doll toys.
These types of toys can provide for hours of fun while your child is repositioning the little figures to create different scenes.
A couple more favorite items that don’t take up much space but provide hours of fun are these tricky magnetic dogs and pipe cleaners. I remember playing with these little dogs when I was a child. A bulletin was a perfect landing place for the top dog and then the other dog would connect through the bulletin.
You can slide the dogs around and around on the bulletin and then try to make the dogs connect the other direction which would result in the push of the magnet. They fit perfectly in a Certs container or another small container so they won’t get lost in the bottom of your bag.
Pipe cleaners are another inexpensive, fun item and they provide a quiet way to build or create shapes or objects. Use them over and over again. You can also use the chenille stems for threading large buttons. This is especially great for kids learning eye/hand coordination and much easier than a button with string. Encourage your child to string the buttons in patterns by color or shape.
Books are always a great way to capture a child’s attention. The key to having great books in your quiet bag is to rotate the books often so they don’t get bored or lose interest. If your child loves horses, then put some horse books in the bag. If they love farm animals, then put some books with farm animals.
As your child gets a bit older, they may also enjoy drawing. I absolutely LOVE these books for helping kids learn to draw. They are step by step instructions for drawing many different things. If you follow the instructions, you will end up with realistic-looking pictures. They are simple but excellent!
You know your child and what interests are so you will use that knowledge to pack your bag. The key is to pack things that are new and different from everyday toys.
When my daughters were little, I actually had two quiet bags packed and we would alternate every other week. Each bag had similar types of items but the actual items were different. This really helped the girls to stay interested in what was in the bag and be able to be busy and entertained during the church service.
One trick that I used was that they could only open up the bag after the church service actually started. In our church, we sing, pick up the offering and the kids collect an offering and then there is a children’s story. Only after those things were done, were they able to open the bag.
It can be very discouraging to try to sit in church with young children, but don’t lose heart and give up. It is amazing how many things children hear during the sermon even though you didn’t think they were paying attention. Consistency is the key. If you keep going to church and teaching your children to be quiet in church, it will help them to learn to be disciplined in church while also providing you the opportunity to listen to the sermon.
Pack Your Bag!
Go find a bag and start packing! If you have a friend who might benefit from this post, please share this list with them. Pin this post for later! I’d love to hear what tricks you have found for sitting with young children in church. Please drop a comment below. I love to hear from you!
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