I know this is has probably been addressed before, but I’m interested in any new ideas.
We are looking for some advice for taking children to Mass and teaching them to behave. We have 2 ½ year old daughter. We are having a terrible time getting her to behave during Mass. To be honest, we feel like we have not attended Mass in 2 ½ years because one of us is always having to leave to deal with discipline issues which means we have to leave the sanctuary.
She can’t sit still. We expect some of that at her age, but the trying to climb over the pews is unacceptable. We have tried to teach her whisper if she has to speak, she only knows on volume; loud! We motion to her be quiet by placing a finger over our mouth and giving a quiet shhhhhh! She responds by imitating the motion and giving a loud SHHHHHH!
We have tried the following in order to teach her to behave:
- Removing her from the sanctuary to until she calms down.
- Bring a book for her to look at or a noiseless toy.
- Removing her from the sanctuary for “time-out”.
- Not taking her to Mass at all (my wife and I alternate attendance).
- Using the “cry room” to attend Mass.
- Waiting to give consequences at home following Mass.
We have had little or no success with these techniques. We hated not taking her to Mass. We fell that participation at Mass is important to her faith formation. Also, if she does not go, she will never learn to behave there. Removing her from the sanctuary multiple time is tiring and disruptive to those around us. The “time-out” at church technique seems to have backfired. She will ask for a “time-out”; presumably to have an excuse to leave Mass. Delaying the consequence until she gets home does succeed in making her unhappy when she gets home but does nothing to curb behavior at Mass next week. The “cry room” is just filled with disruptive children (some of whom there is no attempt at discipline by the parents). This only encourages her to think this behavior is normal. Plus we can hardly see or hear Mass.
Outside of Mass she is a good kid. So, we are looking for thoughtful suggestions to help us.