Encouraging good behavior & etiquette in kids at Mass


My niece is 8, my nephew is 10. They recently were baptized etc this year, and I was a Godparent but I attend a church closer to my home & rarely go to my parents’ church where I attended for a good part of my child years and beyond. My mother takes them to church for Mass on Saturdays as their parents choose not to go to any religious services for various personal reasons including the need to work.

My mother says she has issues with the kids sometimes poking each other, not paying attention, or whispering. She notices it more when she is required to assist as one of several volunteers at the service. I know I was not a complete angel at that age either, and I dont except complete perfection but at same time, I think they are old enough to not poke each other or whisper plus participate with a good effort with both singing and the Mass responses.

Are there any things my mother can use for re-enforcement of good behavior, manners and etiquette in church for the times she is needed to carry out her volunteer duties. She said sometimes a few friends of hers will poke the kids or give them the look/glare but I think thats a bit much to always ask of a friend or friends, or other family members that sometimes come to the same Mass.

I’ve suggested that for each offense that they stay after Mass and the kids sit separate from each other, and pray/meditate/think plus not partaking in the treats often served after mass as I read that in a book some time ago.

Some people even suggested my mother give up her committments of being a Communion and Hospitiality minister to mind the kids but I think the few minutes she isn’t watching the kids, they are old enough to be quiet and not bother each other, and others near them.

Any advice would be welcomed.


Cultivate devotion to the Eucharist. The family Rosary, Benediction, visiting Jesus in the Tabernacle, and reading the exemplary lives of the saints should help. Rely on God and trust in Him.


I’m going to venture a guess here…

I’ll bet these kids exibit this kind of behavior at other times when they are in (what is supposed to be) a controlled environment. …like sitting in the back seat of the car on long trips or when at a fancy restaurant. It seems to me that what these kids need is practice behaving properly when they are someplace other than Mass. I’d tell your mother to focus on that.

Positive reinforcement and punishment can work. Just come up with a reward they’d like and give them points for behaving and take them away for causing problems. Twenty points and they get the reward. …oh yeah… they either both get it or neither gets it. They have to be a team. (If it’s ALWAYS the same child then that’s a different problem. But again, it’s not a problem about Mass attendance.)

But in any case, I think the biggest problem is that these children need to know how to get along and behave when they are not at Mass before they can be expected to behave when at Mass. And you can certainly help out too when you spend time with these young people


How do these children act in general when they are public places, when they are together, do they get along with each other, do they respond to correction, have they been taught simple etiquette and courtesy. Sounds like parents may be abdicating their responsibility in more than one area. Your mother is not going to correct general bad behavior in one hour a week, especially if she has another responsibility during that time. No matter what their age, the way to teach children how to behave at Mass is to teach them what is going on, and why. It sounds like they are not receiving any formal religious instruction either, so that burden is going to fall on the godparent and grandparent as well. Yes, if your mother has decided–God bless her–to tackely this job she may very well have to take them to another Mass than the one she is commited to for serving.


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