*Dear Heloise: I’d like to send a message to parents (and, surprisingly, grandparents!) whose children talk and distract in church. I am a mother and teacher and not a religious zealot. However, church is my last bastion of calm and quiet in a frantic, noisy world. As adorable as your child is, she can upset the peaceful atmosphere of spirituality with her vocalizing, fidgeting, crying, etc.
May I suggest the following ideas for teaching a child how to act in a place of worship?
• Introduce the child to the nursery as a baby so that he is comfortable there.* Hint: When parents occasionally volunteer to help staff the nursery, both parents and children feel more secure there.
• At preschool age, bring the child to a seat in the back of the church for several minutes at a time. Bring one or two soft, quiet toys, such as a cloth book or stuffed animal. Take the child back to the nursery before she becomes tired of sitting still.
• If you have multiple young children, try bringing one at a time to the service — this makes it feel like a privilege.
• Gradually, make it a “reward” to be allowed to remain longer if he is quiet and well-behaved.
be allowed to remain longer if he is quiet and well-behaved.
• Teach by example that church should be a quiet, relaxing time for everybody. It’s surprising how many adults talk and rustle candy wrappers themselves.
• If you teach your child to be respectful and well-behaved, not only will your minister and congregation be grateful, you will be happier and proud. — A Reader From Pennsylvania
Good hints for parents to think about. Your suggestions are wonderful and can certainly help ease the transition to church. — Heloise