What do your toddlers do during Mass?


#1

Brothers and sisters,

I was wondering what your toddlers do during Mass? Do most of you have them sit (I should say wiggle and kick) through Mass, or does your parish have some program that the tiny totts can learn on their own level during the Mass (i.e. nursery), while the older ones (who have come of reason) can actually concentrate and participate in the Mass without distractions? Looking forward to your perspectives.

Peace


#2

We have four kids at Mass 8, 7, 4 and 2. My wife is a cantor, so I often watch the kids solo.

When our church was built, the pastor at the time said that any preacher who can't preach over the crying of a blessed child, shouldn't be preaching at all. Consequently, we don't have a cry room (which I love, by the way). Just today, my 2 year old prompted a lady in front of us to move to a different section of the church. I tend to let her wiggle and I try to give her a little room to move around. My other three, particularly the 4 year old, are very well behaved. I will let her sit in the isle, just on the outside of pew so she can see the alter. I only ask that they stand for the gospel. I encourage them to kneel when we do, but I am realistic about that. As long as they are quite(ish) and not running around, I give them a long leash at Mass.


#3

My wife and always found, with four kids, that ropes and Super Glue worked best. However, some of our fellow parish members didn't care for those methods. Basically, we brought things to help keep them occupied. A little noise was okay from them as long as they weren't disturbing too much the many others who were trying to worship. We sometimes forget that indeed folks are at the Mass for worshipping and they should be allowed to do that with minimal distraction. The Priest should be allowed to say Mass without having to compete for the congregation's attention.

If things got to noisy or hard to handle in the pew, we'd often carry out our little darling and just walk in the narthex, look at pictures on bulletin boards, even step outside if necessary. We rarely used the cry room---too crowded, too loud, too many germs. We didn't feel we needed to add or take away from that environment.

We got through those years fine and cherish them. You will too!


#4

The church we attend and where I work is very old. There is no room to put any kind of "cry room" (which I don't like anyway) or some kind of nursery. So all the toddlers are at mass with the rest of the people. Most just stay in the pews with their families. Once in a while, they'll take them to the vestibule or outside if they get too wild or loud, but it's actually fairly rare and we had a baby boom the year my daughter was born, so there are A LOT of newborns to 2 year olds around.


#5

My toddlers maintain a state of nonexistence. ;)

(I'm sorry, I have nothing useful to say. If it helps, as a child I remember I would always be extremely bored and never understand a word of what the priest was saying even though he was speaking in plain English. I would always go downstairs in my old parish with the other kids when it was time for the Eucharist to complete some exercises and come back up afterwords. I never remember fidgeting very much and my mom recalls that I was a good kid. I noticed that the other kids my age were also like me and did not make much noise, with the occasional "Mommy/Daddy! I need to go pee!" or what have you.)


#6

My old parish had both a cry room (so you could attend Mass and have loud noises muffled) and a nursery (to drop your kids off) although the nursery wasn’t always open (staffed by a few volunteers). My current parish doesn’t appear to have either one.


#7

My Parish does not have a cry room or a nursery. They encourage the children to come to mass and learn to participate.

My 3yr old can make the sign of the cross and participates in the intentions - She will repeat the "Lord, hear our prayer"...sometimes louder then I would like.

Honestly, I will say that she has good days and bad. She is allowed to bring 1 quiet toy with her to mass. She usually picks a babydoll or stuffed animal. I bring a pack of fruit snacks that she can't have until the homily. I do require her to stand, sit, kneel as we all do. She likes to stand on the pew so that she can see. She also likes to put our envelope into the collection each week. It helps to make her feel involved. And she walks to communion with us.

You need to be patient. If you have a trying toddler, talk the him/her in the car on the way to church and explain what you expect. After mass, make sure to praise him/her for behaving well, or if it was a bad day, explain why you are disappointed and just keep at it. The worst thing you can do it stop taking them. All that will do is teach them that if the misbehave they will be rewarded by being able to stay home instead of learning the proper way to act.


#8

[quote="Operalan, post:3, topic:229065"]
My wife and always found, with four kids, that ropes and Super Glue worked best. However, some of our fellow parish members didn't care for those methods. Basically, we brought things to help keep them occupied. A little noise was okay from them as long as they weren't disturbing too much the many others who were trying to worship. We sometimes forget that indeed folks are at the Mass for worshipping and they should be allowed to do that with minimal distraction. The Priest should be allowed to say Mass without having to compete for the congregation's attention.

If things got to noisy or hard to handle in the pew, we'd often carry out our little darling and just walk in the narthex, look at pictures on bulletin boards, even step outside if necessary. We rarely used the cry room---too crowded, too loud, too many germs. We didn't feel we needed to add or take away from that environment.

We got through those years fine and cherish them. You will too!

[/quote]

Ahhhh... your problem lies in not getting the colored duct tape, to match the colors at Mass!

Actually, mine go to Sunday School while I'm at Mass. Then grades 1-6 are excused at the beginning of Mass. They get their age appropriate liturgy, and come back for communion. I'm hoping by 6th grade, my guys will have it together... Or back to the duct tape!;)


#9

We have 2, and the elder one (~22 months) sits on daddy’s lap, he used to get a rosary to play with, but had been done with that for a while now. (When he was about a year old, we did bring a quiet book or toy). He is quiet in mass and doesn’t make a fuss. He loves to do the sign of the cross, especially with the holy water.

And the newborn gets held by me, they are very good so far. :wink:


#10

Wiggling is an important part of the 2 yr old Mass experience :)
I do get a bit of a work-out when our toddler alternates minute by minute with requests to be picked up, put down, etc.
We find sitting near the front, off to the side is best -- she can see what's going on and I can make a quick exit down the side aisle with her if the wiggling turns to whining.
She has a little "prayer bag" filled with holy cards -- she loves to sit and look at these during Mass. I often put a few new ones in to give her a fun discovery as she sits and looks at them. Occasionally she gets so excited looking at a prayer card and then up at the crucifix, and loudly says, "Look Mommy -- Jesus!" But I hope that just helps people re-focus if they're minds are wandering.

We also make sure to have several "prayer books" -- she has a children's bible and prayer book, saint book, toddler Mass book.
And for the really tough mornings, Mass is the one exception to the rule that her special blankie is just for bedtime.
Daily Mass -- b/c it is shorter -- is great "practice time" for learning sit still for Mass. I try to take her at least a couple times/week.

I am impressed by all the posters who do this with 2 or more little ones...I can only imagine how much more challenging it will be if God chooses to give us another!


#11

We have a 10, 7 and 3 year old. I personally dislike the idea of banishing children to somewhere else for mass. I expect that my 10 year old will be fully attentive. The 7 year old gets a few minor passes for distraction, but will be corrected if she starts actively playing with the 3 YO. The 3 YO is free to read books, hold the envelope, grin at people around us, watch other kids, basically anything not noisy. But what she is REALLY doing is noticing that Mom & Dad and her older sisters are paying attention to something mysterious that she doesn't really comprehend.

Which is precisely why she shouldn't be banished to a playroom, because that is a pretty important lesson, actually!


#12

My kids (now 10 and 14) never had an problem being perfect little Mass-goers. They would sit, stand and kneel when appropriate. As babies, there were not too fussy. We have both a cry room and a nursery. My son got sick every time after he went to the nursery. For that matter, I do not recall my siblings nor I ever being disruptive or wiggly. It must be our good genes - or the fact we always sat right up front.


#13

So what have we done with toddlers…well we pack snacks, books, and crayons. We play pass the toddler (sometimes chase the toddler as they head up towards the alter), and encourage them to be part of mass (fold hands when praying, knee, and stand). We sit in the front row so they get a good view - are attend every Sunday (unless sick) so it becomes part of their lives and they don’t know better. If you don’t take them when they are little, they don’t learn how to behave and then you end up with my 8 year old doesn’t want to go to mass!


#14

My son it turning 11 months. He's all over the place. He usually crawls on the space in between the pew and we let him move about as he pleases. I place the bag on the exit to the pew that goes out to the main aisle so he wouldn't crawl out there. And since we're Ukrainian Byzantine now, there's no kneeling at Divine Liturgy so the kneelers are always folded up (lets not get into a discussion on why there are pews in a Byzantine parish).

I also got two boardbooks from the local Catholic bookstore. One is "The Story of Easter" and the other is "Mary our Mother". My kid loves books although he hasn't taken a liking to those two books yet. Maybe because the illustrations has humans in them. All his other books have animals. But we bring it always so at least he can start to understand that church is for Jesus and Mary.

Also in the Ukrainian tradition the kids go up to kiss the Book of Gospels and hold candles while the Gospel is read. I go up with my kid for that.


#15

We bring quiet toys (often with a christian theme) with us to church. Lots of small stuffed animals and board books. I then pull the hymnals and bibles out of the rack and line up the books in there. Our 16 month old usually stands in the space between the pews and plays or sits on our lap and reads. She often flirts with anyone who will smile back at her in the surronding pews. We used to have to take her out more when she was about 9-12 months old, but she is doing a lot better now. She does like to watch the service and has started going to the children's sermon too, with one of us.

My pastor (having 6 kids himself) is a HUGE believer in kids being in church, and only removing them if they are really disruptive. My husband's priest.....not so much, he is of the kids are seen not heard generation. Most times recently she is pretty good. But during those 9-12 month times it was really hard, we just kept trying and one day it kinda just clicked.


#16

I think the toddlers got together and planned a mass exit before Mass this Sunday, because 3 of them escaped their pews and ran up the aisles, followed by mothers and a sibling.:eek:

This rarely happens at Mass, and there was a period of quiet chuckling. Father ignored them all and went on with business as usual. I attributed it to cabin fever from this long and cold winter.:)


#17

[quote="CB_Catholic, post:16, topic:229065"]
I think the toddlers got together and planned a mass exit before Mass this Sunday, because 3 of them escaped their pews and ran up the aisles, followed by mothers and a sibling.:eek:

This rarely happens at Mass, and there was a period of quiet chuckling. Father ignored them all and went on with business as usual. I attributed it to cabin fever from this long and cold winter.:)

[/quote]

That's awesome.......My friend has twin boys the same age as my daughter and we have had this same thing happen on several outings. They talk in their baby talk and then scatter.


#18

We've always brought our little ones to Mass and typically quit bringing toys for them by the time they turned 2 or so. I've always been a big proponent of getting them used to behaving at Mass without having them playing the entire time. Our church does not have a crying room, which is fine by me because I've never been a fan of them.

I started going to Mass with my wife & her family back when we were dating. The first time I went I was shocked because, as soon as we got there, my MIL took our son straight to the crying room. I asked my wife what was going on and she said her mother always did that. I insisted that we go in with her because I wanted to see what was going on and keep an eye on him. The room was a nightmare, from my perspective. The room was full of toys and books, very few of which were religious in nature, and the kids were completely unsupervised, running wild while the mothers all sat to one side and talked. I told my wife this wasn't how adults should be behaving at Mass, let alone kids. I went to take our son out of the room but he started throwing a fit and my MIL threatened to make a bigger scene so I decided to let it go.

The following week I took my wife & son to my church which didn't have a crying room. Our son was shocked that I expected him to actually sit in the pew and behave, but overall he did pretty well. I told my wife that this showed he could behave well at Mass and that we wouldn't be allowing him in the crying room anymore. The next time we went with her parents he expected to go into the crying room and threw a tantrum in the pew when we refused. Her parents encouraged this and said the only way to calm him down was to take him to the crying room. Instead, I took him to the other side of the church so that his grandparents were out of sight. Once again, he behaved acceptably.

From that point on we did our best to not sit by her parents if we went to the same Mass together. We also made up our mind that, once we were married and having kids of our own, they'd never see the inside of a crying room and would learn from the get-go to behave properly at Mass.


#19

Our pastor made it painfully clear in a nasty little address to the parishoners at Mass about 8 months ago that "I don't want to see snacks in here for your little ones. This isn't a picnic so don't do it! No food"

I thought, if this guy had a wife and kids, he might get it.....but he lives in another world and has no clue....

All the snobby, strict, fuddy-duddy anti-kid types looked thrilled at what he said, all the parents (myself included) looked very disappointed. His motivation might be good, but the actual admonishment was silly...IMO

[quote="convert38, post:13, topic:229065"]
So what have we done with toddlers...well we pack snacks, books, and crayons. We play pass the toddler (sometimes chase the toddler as they head up towards the alter), and encourage them to be part of mass (fold hands when praying, knee, and stand). We sit in the front row so they get a good view - are attend every Sunday (unless sick) so it becomes part of their lives and they don't know better. If you don't take them when they are little, they don't learn how to behave and then you end up with my 8 year old doesn't want to go to mass!

[/quote]


#20

My two and a half year old usually sits on her dads lap, or wiggles and sits/stands between us, while I hold the seven month old. She's usually quiet, although she certainly has her moments. She'll be quiet for months during Mass and then have a couple tough weeks where we spend a lot of time outside in timeout.

Now that she's talking more she does occasionally throw in an "Amen" if a homily goes more than fifteen minutes. She does that at home if she thinks a prayer is too long too.


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