Getting young kids through mass?


#1

Ok, I am a single Dad (divorced) of three awesome kids. They are 6,4,and 2.

I need advice on getting them through mass.

They are overall very well behaved kids. They respect authority and aren’t overly squirrelly or wild. However, at mass, especially for the older two, I expect them to sit and listen and be quiet and respectful. Without fail, they start turning in their seats, climbing around on the pew, grabbing at each other, etc… I bring books for them to read during the homily, but the rest of the time I am constantly policing their behavior. They have me out numbered!

Any suggestions are appreciated!


#2

Maybe you can separate them. Put the ones messing around on each side of you. Try to be as patient as possible but dont let them disturb others either. If you could get the 6 year old to behave, the 4 year old may behave as well. Maybe you could make some conseqenses for the 6 year old if he misbehaves?


#3

Yeah he got sent to his room as soon as we got home. I do think that if I could get him to behave the others would follow his example better. I do sit in between them, but since there is only one of me, two of them are always together. The 2 year old will only let me hold her sometimes. I am sure the people behind me enjoy the juggling act …


#4

Perhaps getting an age-appropriate book on the Mass and what it means might help. You could talk it over with the 2 older ones. I did that with my son when he was around that age. I pointed out parts of the Mass to watch for and what they meant. That helped focus him a bit.


#5

I’ll probably get fricasseed for this but kids that young do not get anything out of the Mass, and can’t really be expected to sit still. You could of course become harsh and force them, but then they will resent both you and the Mass.


#6

I sometimes have to take my 4 and 6 year old when my husband is travelling and it isn’t easy. Sitting up front helps. They can see what’s going on and know Father can see them. My older son is great at finding songs in the missalette. Donuts are offered after mass ONLY if there has been good behavior. As for the two-year-old, when my guys were that age I made a Mass Bag that contained saint cards, a kid rosary and a few St. Joseph books.

I’d say we get good behavior about 80% of the time and tolerable behavior 99% of the time. Good luck!


#7

Sitting up close is a good idea. If you have friends who attend Mass (and aren't outnumbered by children) you might try sitting with them.

But my main advice is to make sure that Mass is not the only time your children are expected to sit quietly and listen when doing something they don't find "fun" while sitting in a seat that's probably not all that comfortable. Sitting still takes lots of practice.


#8

That may not be true at all. I am Eastern Catholic and have a son who is 3 1/2. He has often recited or sung parts of the Divine Liturgy, or mimicked several of the liturgical gestures of the priest or deacon, and he started doing this probably well over a year ago. While it often seems that he is not at all participating in the Divine Liturgy, his ability to sing much of the Liturgy and act out some of the parts of the priest and deacon show otherwise.


#9

[BIBLEDRB]Proverbs 23:13 [/BIBLEDRB]


#10

My wife and I always sat in the front pew with a good view. Kids that have adults in front of them can hardly be expected to pay attention through the backs of others. We made the rule that if they can’t be still and pay attention in mass they can’t sit still and pay attention in front of a TV. (Friday after school and the weekend was the only days of TV allowed at all. This was a great balance and allowed only a narrow selection of good shows that we taped or later DVR’d.) They only needed little reminders and never missed any TV, except there was a spree of hitting in the car after Mass that did get all TV watching suspended for that Sunday with some extra chores thrown in for the wildest hitter.


#11

I saw two suggestions s that I was t to seconditions: age appropriate material and donuts

First ,
I remember receiving my own child’s version of a missellette when I was younger and I brought it to every mass. I really enjoyed participating in the mass at my on level. Basic vocabulary for early readers plust descriptive photos or drawings forboth early and non readers was helpful. I will be shopping for such an item for my own six year old and I will drop a note back her or to you if I find something or maybe someone will help us both out and beat me to it.

Second,
I also like the donut idea although I must say it certainly doesn’t have to be donuts but a reward of some sort preferably one that is already associated with Church. I don’t like the idea of punishment afterwards especially on the day of worship because I think it will reinforce their dislike of the activity all together and that is certainly not what you intend I’m sure.

I truly commend you for your efforts to attend. I have twin toddlers and we have missed so much because I have been afraid to bring them. It gets better everyday, though, and they are only young for such a short while. Enjoy this time in their lives, as challenging as it might be!


#12

There was a thread recently on Mass books for children:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=795314


#13

I taught my children the prayers of the Mass (starting with the shorter ones!) and that helped a lot. I also explained at home what was happening and then reminded them at Mass (this is where they read the stories). I also asked them about what was read and said during the homily. And when I was organized enough, I’d read the readings ahead of time. We also read through a Bible stories book and they began to recognize some of the stories in the readings :slight_smile:

We also practiced sitting still! Mostly at mealtimes. Try to make it a bit of a game… set the timer and see who will be able to sit still until the timer rings, that sort of thing. Take them to MacDonalds and tell them that you’re all going to act like grown-ups since it’s a restaurant.

Not only will these types of things help you at Mass, they will help the children in regular life.

ETA: I taught them the prayers during their bedtime prayers, not as a sort of schoolwork thing. Make sure you teach them to pray short prayers during the day as well.

PS I also understand that children behave better when they are dressed up, so just some nice clothes (polo shirt instead of t-shirt, that type of thing) that are set aside as special may also help.


#14

The 4- and 6-year-olds are definitely old enough to get something out of Mass–the older child is only 1 year away from receiving the Eucharist!

But more importantly, children need to learn a lot in order to “get something out of the Mass.” They need to learn–to be taught–about the Mass, what is happening, how to participate, etc; and they need to learn the skills of sitting still and listening.
Of course they should not be *harshly *expected to sit still perfectly for an hour or more after having never done it before (altho most have done so at school and in front of the tv!) but they need to be challenged to working up to it in steps, and not made to feel awful during the process. It’s not an either/or situation.

And finally, children love to learn, and their task is to become adults. This sort of learning is actually very good for children, and helps them to integrate better into society.


#15

[quote="Jon_S, post:1, topic:332144"]
Ok, I am a single Dad (divorced) of three awesome kids. They are 6,4,and 2.

I need advice on getting them through mass.

They are overall very well behaved kids. They respect authority and aren't overly squirrelly or wild. However, at mass, especially for the older two, I expect them to sit and listen and be quiet and respectful. Without fail, they start turning in their seats, climbing around on the pew, grabbing at each other, etc.... I bring books for them to read during the homily, but the rest of the time I am constantly policing their behavior. They have me out numbered!

Any suggestions are appreciated!

[/quote]

My friend has children aged 4, 7, 10 and 11 and I often help her with them. I think first of all what really helps is that my parish has a children's corner. It is fantastic because it has crayons, religious colouring pages, games, books, stuff animals where the kid's can play quietly. Often parents will help their children colour as they listen to the mass. It keeps the children occupied and quiet. The parish also has catechism for children over the age of 4 which helps because the children miss about half of the mass. They return to mass just before the lord's prayer. If your church doesn't have either, colouring books, quiet games can greatly help the situation.

Policing will always be necessary but if your children are fidgety, most parents I see generally sit towards the back of the church that way the children are less apt to disturb the mass.


#16

You are doing a fabulous job!!! Having been there done that (my youngest 3 are within 5 years of each other), I commend you for taking them. I’ve often said taking any child under the age of 4 to mass should count as an aerobic workout :slight_smile:

If I may gently point out, you seem to feel that constantly policing their behavior is either wrong or unusual? If so, let me assure you it is not - and you are doing exactly what you need to be doing! :slight_smile: It may seem impossible to believe now, but there is light at the end of this tunnel. For over 12 years, I dealt with two or more children under the age of six at mass … and sometimes I really felt like it was useless, that neither they nor I were able to get anything out of it.

However, gradually, over time, I have been so richly rewarded. Today, for example, I was able to sit with my children (15, 12, 10, 8) and not only did I not have to correct anything, they followed along with mass, joined in singing all the hymns, said all the responses, made eye contact and shook hands during the sign of peace, reverently went forward and received communion and left quietly once mass was over (saving the latest version of a Boy Scout camp song for once they were out the door). This good behavior which allows me to fully concentrate on the mass is my “new normal” - and it’s wonderful :slight_smile:

They did not fidget, go to the bathroom, whisper, roll their eyes, or bang the kneelers like many other kids there the same ages.

So while I wish I could give you some magic advice, you’re already doing exactly what I did (books, constantly policing their behavior, and I’m sure, probably removing them from mass when they decide to pitch a fit because you won’t let them get into the purse the lady ahead of you put under the pew smile).

Consistent rules, consistent patience, and knowing that it WILL pay off down the road are the only advice I have besides encouraging the oldest to follow along in a child appropriate mass booklet so she’ll already know how much longer mass will be.

I repeat - you’re doing good! Keep it up!


#17

[quote="Jon_S, post:1, topic:332144"]
Ok, I am a single Dad (divorced) of three awesome kids. They are 6,4,and 2.

I need advice on getting them through mass.

They are overall very well behaved kids. They respect authority and aren't overly squirrelly or wild. However, at mass, especially for the older two, I expect them to sit and listen and be quiet and respectful. Without fail, they start turning in their seats, climbing around on the pew, grabbing at each other, etc.... I bring books for them to read during the homily, but the rest of the time I am constantly policing their behavior. They have me out numbered!

Any suggestions are appreciated!

[/quote]

This is a suggestion I heard on a travel forum. One mother keeps her kids quiet and occupied on planes by having a bag of special toys that are only used on plane trips (so that the toys stay novel and interesting to the kids). When the kid gets squirmy, she gives him a toy, and when he gets bored of it, she exchanges it for a different one. Maybe you could do something similar, but adapted to be more appropriate for a mass. You could put in things like children's missals, catholic coloring books, children's bibles, vocation toys, toy mass kits, etc. Just made sure the toys are quiet, and don't expect each individual toy to hold a young kid's attention for more than 5 or 10 minutes. When they get bored, exchange the toy for a different one.


#18

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