Mass and the 4-6 set


The current toddler Mass thread got me thinking about my kids. And I realized that with all the knowledge here, someone will be able to help me with my latest problem. Jack (who will be 5 in a few weeks) doesn’t like to go to Mass. It’s “boring” and “too long”.

Jack is fairly well behaved at Mass. He sits still and usually doesn’t talk. We’re working on getting him to leave Grace alone during Mass (he likes to touch her, try to make her smile, etc – which usually makes her scream because he gets too close to her). While I’m glad he is well behaved, I hate that he dislikes it. He always asks if we HAVE to go, how much longer, is it over yet, etc.

What do you do with your kids in this age group? He’s getting old enough to understand what’s happening, but nothing we’ve done has sparked his interest. For a while, we stopped letting him read/color, but I’m thinking we need to go back to that, with stuff that is Mass focused. (DH isn’t sure about this, so I’d love opinions either way!)



How close do you sit to the front of church? My parents always sat in the 2nd row with the us six kids. Being that close allows the children to see what is going on rather than the back of peoples heads or backs and mass becomes more interesting. Other than that, I got nothing.


Does he know the songs, responses and prayers? That would be a good place to start. Also, go through the readings the week prior to Mass so he knows what he’s hearing. You can have him listen for a word or phrase. You can ask him to listen to see if Father mentions that word or phrase in the homily.

It’s never too early to start preparing for receiving communion–talk about Jesus and how he is specially present at the altar. St Joseph books are good for this.

He’s old enough for MagnifiKids–a special Missal for kids


Sitting up front helped tons when my kids were that age. I really love Magnifikids also. We also did the trick of having them count or listen for a certain word. Once ds was reading well enough (not when he was 5!) he loved to follow along in his kiddie missal and match up the pictures to what was happening at the altar.

I’m also not above bribery. Not in the usual sense of be good and you’ll get…, but in making Sunday a fun day with Mass as just part of that fun. So certain special treats (pancakes, etc) were reserved for Sundays and they just went right along with attending Mass. I always kept the kids aware of what the family plans were for any day because it helped them deal with transitions and changes in routine. So Sunday was talked up as the fun day that we had pancakes for breakfast, went to Mass, went to grandma’s house, etc. It just became part of the routine and not something that was ever skipped or changed for any reason. (For example, we had some friends who didn’t go to church during the summer. That never happened at our house!)


Take him to the church when mo one is there, show him the statues, the baptistry, the stations, don’t explain them , just show him, if he does ask questions, sure, give him a kids age answer. Kneel and say the hail mary and our father our loud for him to hear and then bless yourself and go home. Do this every day if you are able to, and he will soon become in love with the church and even the mass, there are many youth mass books, get him one.


I believe sitting in the front or very near the front where the kids can see is one of the keys.


Too long and too boring… how much TV, computer, video games and electronic toys does he get? These have turned kids in to passive “entertain me” sponges.

The longest stretch at Mass where we sit and have no responses is 15 minutes (unless you get a very long winded homilist). Work with him at home, sit down and read a book to him for 15 minute stretches and then get longer - he will soon learn to listen without needing a flashy light or sound effect.

Make sure he has learned the responses and prayers, open the hymnal and help him sing along… and get him ready for that 15 minutes of listening.

Sit on the front pew so he can see everything.


I second the ideas of sitting in the front and also showing the children the church at non-service times. My kids have been in the sacristy with me, seen me do some of the setup for Adoration, wash the vessels after purification, etc. Once the deacon gave us a personal tour of the tabernacle. My kids have also had personal contact with both priest and deacon, and I think that helps, too.


Ding, ding, ding! I fell into a horrible habit during my first trimester of letting him watch a lot of TV and now that I’m feeling better and limiting him again, we’re having lots of boredom trouble. I hadn’t equated the issues we’re having at home with the Mass thing, but I think you’re right on – this is about him being overly entertained. Thanks for the reminder.

We usually sit up front. But I think I will take him over to check out the church when nothing is going on. Is it OK to walk up by the altar?


You should check with your clergy to see what they think about being up by the altar. I doubt they would have a problem with it, but I bet they would prefer a heads up, particularly if you have a very ornate church and someone might be concerned about kids “wandering” up there.

My church has felt banners, alas, and a very shallow sanctuary, so there isn’t much to be concerned with besides the tabernacle.


I wouldn’t let him color, and I wouldn’t let him read an ordinary book. But a children’s missal or mass book - I’d let him look through. Also, sitting in the front and touring the church helps. We actually practice the sung parts of Mass at home (Like the Gloria and the Holy Holy etc…), so the kids can sing along, or at the least, recognize them when they hear them. The other prep we do (well, we occasionally remember to do this) is read the Gospel reading and discuss it before going to Mass - this way the kids perk up when they hear the familiar words. I also think that most children of that age, even when all the “tricks” are employed, are still going to be bored at Mass. That’s ok. You do what you can to help them understand what’s going on, you expect good behavior, you talk about the readings before/after, and you help them understand the reverence and holiness that is going on at Mass. When my kids tell me they’re bored, I don’t stress over it. You can’t control that completely - and mass is geared towards adults (and even we adults can have a hard time focusing at Mass). If a 5yo child wasn’t a little bored at Mass, that would be an exceptional child.


My youngest is 4 and she flips through my older dd’s outdated Magnifikid from the week before. I also got few other kid’s Missals for her that she can look at. At the beginning of Mass I tell her when Fr. is processing in to listen and wait so she can make the sign of the cross. She will sit there during the readings and use her little telescope to see the lectors (keeps her happy and quiet). She gets antsy during the homily, but she stays quiet. She tries to sing along during some parts of the Mass, and she loves shaking hands during the sign of peace. Some weeks are a bit of a challenge, but for the most part it gets easier every week.


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