Going to Sunday mass as a family is a tradition many still observe. However, for parents with little kids in tow, it can be a stressful time since they worry about their children misbehaving and disrupting the mass’s solemnity.
The good news is that it’s possible to get your kids to behave in church. It just takes a bit of time and a lot of patience. Below are tips on how to achieve this so you can take your children to mass with you, and worry less.
1. Communicate with them. Paint them a picture of what a mass is and how they are expected to behave. Explain that going to church means time spent praying and not playing. Careful not to get your R’s and L’s mixed here.
Remind them as well that people take praying seriously, thus would prefer silence to focus on talking with God. This means they have to be well-behaved: keeping still, not playing, minimizing conversations, only whispering, etc.
2. Put them in the right mood. Your children’s behavior can be dictated by their moods. Make sure they are well-fed and well-rested before attending mass. This decreases the chances of a major meltdown which result to disapproving looks by other church goers.
3. Have a pre-Mass activity Take your kids for a stroll on church grounds prior to mass. This gives them a chance to expend some of their energy so they can keep still during the celebration. As an alternative or additional activity, show them the different statues inside the church.
4. Pick the right spot. If your children are easily distracted by people and movement, strategically sit in the front pews to minimize distractions. Settling upfront limits their line of vision to the priest and a few others, so they can focus better.
However, not all children are the same. If your kids need a distraction to save them from boredom, sit in the middle or back pews where they can get a better view of the church. This way, when the desire to sit still begins to wane, you can point out to, say, a statue or lights to keep them occupied.
It would be considerate, too, to pick a spot near the aisles to make it easier for you to rush out the church should your children throw a full-fledged tantrum. This way you won't need to shuffle past a sea of legs and disturb the ceremony.
5. Give constant reminders. Your children will forget where they are and may start having conversations or acting out vehicular crashes. Calmly and quietly remind them not to play. Be patient with this as you will be doing a lot of it.
6. Bring a nanny. Taking an extra pair of hands (and legs) is a good idea if you want to focus more in church. If you have a Yaya with you, you won’t have to step out of the mass in case one of your children needs to visit the restroom, or leave the church for whatever reason.
7. Attend the children’s mass. Take your kids to a children’s mass where the priest’s homily would be more appropriate and easier for kids to comprehend, so they can appreciate the holy celebration better. Check your local parish for schedules.