NUGGETS OF ADVICE
1) Start Small: It may take a while before your child is able to sit through a service. On your first try, 5 minutes may be a victory for you and your child. If you’re child can’t sit through the whole service, come back into the Worship Training Room. After some time in the WTR, you may be able to rejoin the end of the service. If possible, each week try adding on another minute or two onto the previous week.
2) Think long term: In the beginning, you may have to help hold your child’s attention by having them sit on your lap and engaging them in the items in the Special Bag. After they have proven they can sit quietly in the service, there will come a time when you will want to encourage them to interact with the items in their Special Bag on their own so you can pay more attention to the service and less attention to your child.
3) This is a joint effort If both parents attend church, both parents need to be involved in this process to communicate to the child that worshiping God is important to Mommy and Daddy.
4) Believe it or not, members of the church are encouraged when you bring your child into the service!! We have had many “senior” members of our church say that they are very happy when parents care to bring their children into the service. They’ve experienced the difficulties of training a child to sit through a service and they’ve seen the reward at the end of the process. They know what you are going through and it encourages them that a younger generation is taking part in the church.
We often feel like everyone stares at us when our children make noise in a service, but the reality is not many people notice or care. Take hope in the fact that you are introducing your child to worship, this pleases God.
Parents who have gone through this before will tell you to not entertain thoughts of what other people in the service may or may not be thinking about you and your child. Two minutes after your child makes a small amount of noise, no one will remember.
PARENTING FROM THE PEW
You will notice if you read this book, that the philosophy driving the book is different than the philosophy of the Worship Training Room. Parenting from the Pew talks about helping your child actively participate in worship. The purpose of the Worship Training Room is to help you work with your child to learn to sit through the service.
While the purposes are different, we do not think they are opposed to each other. We consider the Worship Training Room to be the 1st step in the process. We believe that after a child can learn to sit in a service, then they will be better equipped to actively engage the worship service. We think the worship training room is Step #1 and then engaging your child with the information from Parenting from the Pew is Step #2. What step you choose to start on can depend on the age and maturity of you child.
THE WORSHIP TRAINING ROOM
The purpose of the worship training room is to provide a place for parents to help their children learn to sit quietly through the worship service with the long-term hope that being able to sit through a service will help your child to join in the worship as they grow older. You’ll notice that this room doesn’t have any toys. The toys have been removed as toys can distract kids and take away from your efforts to help them learn to sit quietly for a period of time.
If you find your child is not ready to go through this process we ask, for the sake of the parents trying to help their kids sit quietly,that you use the room across the hall where you will find items your child can play with.
Things to do here:
1) Create a Special Sunday Bag In order to better help keep your child’s attention, you should consider creating a bag of “goodies” that is only available to them on Sunday during the church service.
Things you can include:
Books with flap to open and close, Bible, Coloring Books
Stickers/Sticker Books, Colorform Books, Magnetic play sticker books, Books like “Where’s waldo”
2) Bring a snack for young children (one that won’t create a big mess). Having a snack can help kids sit for a long time.
3) Include your child in the service. If they like music, hold them and sway with them when we sing. Have them clap. During the offering, have them put your offering in the plate.
4) If possible try to hold off giving your child a snack or the Special Sunday bag until a quiet time in the service (i.e. the choir, a prayer, the sermon).
Things you can do at home:
For your kids:
1) Institute a “quiet” time at home. A couple of times per week, have your child join you on the couch for a time where both of you can “read” or enjoy a quiet activity. Start small with a few minutes and over time add more minutes to this time. If you do this at home it can help set the expectation at church that they are able to do the same thing.
1) Talk to your kids on Saturday evening about what you are going to try to do on Sunday during the service. Helping to set an expectation for your children may help prepare them for Sunday morning.
2) Read “Parenting from the Pew.” Please take a free copy. The book’s focus is to encourage parents, with kids of all ages, to see that children are capable of participating in the worship and learning from the service.