10 Actions Parents Can Take for a Happier Morning at Church
Time spent at church (or some other place that requires a quiet, behaved child) can either be stressful or peaceful. Too many times it is stressful. Our children know what buttons to push to get us to react wildly instead of respond calmly.
As parents and adults we can change this situation. We can change the environment and our responses so that when the buttons are pushed, our responses contribute to peace not chaos. Below are 10 ideas that can turn stress into peace.
1. Assess your morning for hotspots. Think back over the past month of Sundays. What were the typical problem behaviors? Before you can formulate a plan, you need to document what is actually happening.
2. Begin dealing with these hotspots. Write down how you’d like your child to behave. Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom. Does the Bible tell you what to do? Ask other parents or your children’s pastor for ideas, resources, and support. Use the bookstore, library, and Google as resources as well. Formulate a plan with your spouse and then consistently apply your “answers.”
3. Bring something for your child to do if you keep him/her with you in the service. There are many “quiet” toys that are ideal for this time: a coloring book and crayons, a doll or action figure, a puzzle, a book. Keep these items put away in a bag that you bring out only on Sundays. That way the toys will be “novel” and better hold the attention of your child.
4. Don’t expect your child to be perfect. Have a reasonable expectation according to their age. If s/he is very wiggly, perhaps there is a Sunday school class or nursery for their age. Or if you prefer, go to the cry room so the child can walk around.
5. Explain what you expect and why. Even little ones need to know which behavior is acceptable at church and which behaviors are not. Through consistency on your part and a maturing on theirs, they will soon learn proper church etiquette. It is never too soon to learn how to be obedient. This pleases God.
6. Get proper rest and nutrition. Make sure you and your child have had enough sleep and a nutritious breakfast before coming to church. Both will help ensure that you can be on your best behavior. It is hard to pay attention or even be nice when you are grumpy from lack of sleep or food.
7. Plan ahead. Set out church clothes – including socks and shoes – the night before. Allow plenty of time to get ready in the morning. Plan ahead what you’ll have for Sunday breakfast. Put your Bible, notebook and toy bag by the front door or in the car on Saturday night. Spending a half hour on Saturday night doing these things will make Sunday flow much better. Everyone will then arrive at church in a more peaceful mood. This means less acting out behavior in Sunday school and/or in the Service.
8. Provide a snack. This is especially good if you didn’t have time for a hearty breakfast or if it is getting close to lunch time. Bring snacks that are not overly messy (anything chocolate coated), overly noisy (anything in crinkly wrappers), or overly laden with sugar (otherwise your child could be running around in a fit of sugar fueled frenzy while you are trying to visit after the service is over). Apple slices and cheese or a little box of raisins are two ideas. Again try to bring foods that are reserved only for Sunday church time.
9. Pray and ask God to reveal what you could do. God is the revealer of wisdom. He knows you and your child’s needs. Sometimes God answers through that still, quiet voice. But He also answers through the Bible, other people, and circumstances. God does not give answers that conflict with each other or conflicts with Biblical principles. Keep seeking until you have a workable plan. Then put it into action. What can you do today?
10. Set a good example. Model the behavior you want your child to copy. Respectfully listen. Participate in singing, prayers, and greeting time. Give your child a notebook and pencil so s/he can also take notes just like you. Respectfully and quietly correct misbehavior. Be sure to praise the good behavior especially if it is new.
Go here for 14 Ways to Stop the Morning Madness (from imom).
Related Post . . . 10 Things to Teach Your Child About Behaving in Church
Your Turn . . . What have you done that has worked well for you?