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#1 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If you are a praying family, how do your kids do with it? When ds1 was 2-ish he loved saying a prayer, often volunteering at the dinner table. I even caught him praying on his own if he had "boo-boo" for God to heal! Then came ds2 (now 3yo), who in general, is just different from ds1. He has never been one to sit still for books, and he has never wanted to pray with us. At age 4.5, ds1 now is just silly about everything. And ds2 eggs him on and they both make a mess out of our prayer time! It's really frustrating and dh finds it really disrespectful (irreverent?).

We either hold hands or fold them at the dinner table. Something you might find my kids doing while our head are bowed:

-looking at each other making funny faces
-eating with their mouths off their plates (while we're all holding hands)
-squeezing a death grip on my hand
-talking

So, is this just how it is? Is there a way to teach them to be reverent for the 30 seconds it takes to say a mealtime prayer?

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#2 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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We keep praying relaxed. I want DD to know that she can talk to God whenever and wherever she wants. That God is as present as the breeze.

So she says a grace before her meal (sometimes with eyes open, but that's ok) and then before bed we say our own prayer thanking God for various things and she always adds her own i.e. "Thank you for such a beautiful, sunny day." "Thank you for my new art supplies." etc.

I think it's normal for them to be goofing around at that age. It's ok.

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#3 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 06:58 PM
 
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In Islam, the prayer before meals is really short and sweet. You basically just say "Bismillah"...which means "In the name of God".

But a few things come to mind...

1) Could you assign responsibility for leading the prayer to different kids on different nights?

2) Could you offer incentives to the kid (or kids) who pray well (or at least stay quiet)? Strangely enough, at our house, the kids fight over who gets to give out napkins... who gets to help Mom, etc.

3) Could you help them memorize some short and sweet graces? As a kid, I remember we said, (OK it sounds really formal now... but hey, we were Presbyterian)... "For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful."

4) My Aunt taught my kids a cute grace that they love... sung to the ABC song... "A-B-C-D-E-F-G Thank you God for Feeding Me!"

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#4 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oddly enough, my ds1 has been learning cute/fun prayers that they say at snack time at his preschool, and he JUST NOW, after 6 months of school has told me about them! If I would have known, I would have encouraged him in saying them. I guess we want to demonstrate how we pray, and my husband likes to say grace at dinner time. DS1 used to love to jump in with thankyous for everything under the sun, but right now, it seems more like a game of which sibling can be more irritating during prayer time!

Like I mentioned before, mealtime prayer lasts less than 30 seconds! It's not formal, but it is something we would like them to respect and participate in at some point. There are plenty of other times where we talk to God more casually and they do know that they can do that at any time. I just want to have two times per day (at meals) that we, as a family, pray together.

I'm hoping it's just the age. At 4.5, ds1 seems to be silly about everything. PRAYING it will pass!

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#5 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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Some suggestions -

perhaps meal time is not the best place to teach your children to pray. I would say a quick blessing and move forward with the meal. (little rhyming prayers like they say in preschools and girl scout camp are perfect) We usually just make the sign of the cross and say "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless this food. Amen". I am an adult and I get antsy when prayers before meals go on and on. especially if I am hungry!

for family prayers we say them right before bed. my kids are older and we still have issues some nights. even the dog occaisionally feels the need to be the center of attention right then. but we keep working on it. some things that have helped.
* we have a dedicated spot.
* my two oldest take turns reading the prayers.
* my youngest chimes in where she has them memorized.
* my middle child lights the candle. my oldest then lights a second special candle. my youngest blows them out.

giving everyone a role keeps them focused. more focused anyway

since your sons feed off each other I would focus on praying with them individually. whichever one goes to bed first, set the other one up reading books or something in his room. pray with child #1. put him to bed. then once you are done go and pray with child number two. this will help teach them first to be reverent without the goofyness of the other child. then you can teach them to bring that same attitude when they come together to pray. you can also geer the length etc towards the needs of each child.

maybe plan a time for individual prayers as well as family prayers (right away in the morning is a good time for family prayers.) keep the time together really short at first, maybe include a short hymn or praise song (maybe pick a song of the week and sing it every day. repetition keeps you from loosing them) as part of your prayer time. then a quick 30-60 second prayer time.

a tip my priest gave me was to say my prayers in front of them. even if they were too goofy and irreverent to join in my example would plant a seed in their heart. let them know they were free to join me if they wished. but only if they could behave. otherwise I was the only one who got the privledge of spending time with God. they were free to wrestle around behind me but I was praying if they wanted to join me they had to pray too. in the mean time even if they were messin' around and playing and coming in and out while I was praying they were seeing, hearing, and learning the prayers.

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#6 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some suggestions -



maybe plan a time for individual prayers as well as family prayers (right away in the morning is a good time for family prayers.) keep the time together really short at first, maybe include a short hymn or praise song (maybe pick a song of the week and sing it every day. repetition keeps you from loosing them) as part of your prayer time. then a quick 30-60 second prayer time.

a tip my priest gave me was to say my prayers in front of them. even if they were too goofy and irreverent to join in my example would plant a seed in their heart. let them know they were free to join me if they wished. but only if they could behave. otherwise I was the only one who got the privledge of spending time with God. they were free to wrestle around behind me but I was praying if they wanted to join me they had to pray too. in the mean time even if they were messin' around and playing and coming in and out while I was praying they were seeing, hearing, and learning the prayers.

Thank you for this. Very helpful

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#7 of 19 Old 03-09-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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Little prayer songs are fun.

Look up the girlscout meal prayers. Like, this one, sung to the tune of the Addams family

"We thank you for the food Lord, for Mom and Dad* and you Lord, we thank you for the food Lord, to get us through the day. Da da da da, amen! da da da da, amen! Da da da da, da da da da, da da da da, AMEN!"

*replace "mom and dad" with whatever parental structure you have. Mom and mama, dad and daddy, or if a single parent household then "for mommy and for you, Lord"

Or Johnny Appleseed
"Oh the Lord is good to me!
And so we thank the Lord!
For giving me, the things I need
The sun, the Rain and the Appleseed
The Lord is good to me!"

Once you have 5 or so memorized then you can let the kids take turns picking which one to use.
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#8 of 19 Old 03-10-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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I have a slightly different feeling about this than the PPs. 3 and 4.5 year olds are old enough to have table manners and sitting still through 30 seconds of prayer is a table manner issue. I would punish for irreverence in whatever what you punish for other table-manner infractions. I can't imagine you let your kids eat with their faces off their plates any other time (ew!) so why is prayer time different?

Then I totally agree with Lilyka's suggestions for teaching them to pray other times

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#9 of 19 Old 03-10-2010, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a slightly different feeling about this than the PPs. 3 and 4.5 year olds are old enough to have table manners and sitting still through 30 seconds of prayer is a table manner issue. I would punish for irreverence in whatever what you punish for other table-manner infractions. I can't imagine you let your kids eat with their faces off their plates any other time (ew!) so why is prayer time different?

Then I totally agree with Lilyka's suggestions for teaching them to pray other times
I feel this way too, I just want to know if I'm expecting too much for their age. And I'm not really sure how to "enforce" this without turning them off of the whole thing.

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#10 of 19 Old 03-10-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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I would completely second the suggestion to sing the mealtime prayers. My children are much more enthusiastic about wanting to join in the prayers if they are sung. We had DH's parents over for dinner last night and the begining of the meal was hectic, we didn't remember to pray. About 1/2 way through the meal DS asked "doesn't anyone else want to pray?" So, we sang Johny Appleseed and continued with the meal. There are several meal prayer songs we cycle through, I knew some before and found others through google.

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#11 of 19 Old 03-11-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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I feel this way too, I just want to know if I'm expecting too much for their age. And I'm not really sure how to "enforce" this without turning them off of the whole thing.

If I have to correct my childrens behavior in church or during prayer I correct their behavior and keep it seperate from the whole worship/prayer thing.

So if the behavior infraction was happening at meal time I would point out that we do not act like that at the table and then they would recieve whatever consequence they would recieve if they were acting that way at any other time during the meal.

I have sent one child to her room for the way she was acting during prayers but she is 13 and she tackled her sister.....for not paying good enough attention during prayers. I talked my priest about it and once he stoppped laughing he said my response was fine and she is old enough tp pray oin her own if she cannot behave properly in the group. For some reaosn that is our biggest issue. one child becoming obsessed with another not paying attention to the prayers. I remind them that they too are not paying attention and they need to worry about themselves and what they are bringing before God right now. but they are much older than your children

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#12 of 19 Old 03-11-2010, 02:15 AM
 
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I'm sure your kids are old enough to sit through a minute of prayer - that is a completely reasonable expectation. In fact, they can be expected to sit nicely though a lot more, imo, if you needed them to.

I understand not wanting to turn them off to praying - you want your kids to grow up loving the faith as much as you do. You aren't disciplining them for not praying though; you're disciplining for manners. It is really ok to have expectations for them for all family events - not just the secular ones

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#13 of 19 Old 03-11-2010, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sure your kids are old enough to sit through a minute of prayer - that is a completely reasonable expectation. In fact, they can be expected to sit nicely though a lot more, imo, if you needed them to.

I understand not wanting to turn them off to praying - you want your kids to grow up loving the faith as much as you do. You aren't disciplining them for not praying though; you're disciplining for manners. It is really ok to have expectations for them for all family events - not just the secular ones
this makes sense. We do have a problem in general with my 4yo behaving when he has to sit still. He just hasn't had alot of occasions to practice this. In our church, the children don't attend service with us, they go to their classrooms. It's not until their 5, I think, that they come in to church for the music with their class. So, anytime we have taken them in with us, such as Christmas Eve service when there is no childrens church, ds1 has a really hard time sitting still. He just gets so silly. And if there is a friend anywhere nearby, forget about it. I cannot do or say anything effective that will keep him still. And I have no idea how to discipline this. I guess that's another forum though!

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#14 of 19 Old 03-11-2010, 11:33 PM
 
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this is a huge problem with childrens church. They are being taught that church is boring and prayer and worship is a time to be silly and have fun and being serious is not for them. My children do not go to childrens church. they are full members of the church and full participate in corperate prayer and worship. It was hard work and I did not get a lot out of the services for quite a while as I taught them to particiapte but it is so beautiful to see how excited the children get to participate in the same way as the adults.

would it be possible for you to start keeping your kids in the service more and more often? teaching them to love to worship and love to pray?evenif you start with just one song until they have it, then move on to two (I am assuming from your post that you have singing then sermon sort of set up if not just start with a length of time and gradually extend it)

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#15 of 19 Old 03-12-2010, 12:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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this is a huge problem with childrens church. They are being taught that church is boring and prayer and worship is a time to be silly and have fun and being serious is not for them. My children do not go to childrens church. they are full members of the church and full participate in corperate prayer and worship. It was hard work and I did not get a lot out of the services for quite a while as I taught them to particiapte but it is so beautiful to see how excited the children get to participate in the same way as the adults.

would it be possible for you to start keeping your kids in the service more and more often? teaching them to love to worship and love to pray?evenif you start with just one song until they have it, then move on to two (I am assuming from your post that you have singing then sermon sort of set up if not just start with a length of time and gradually extend it)
I completely agree with what you said. I wish I could turn back the clock and start again. Our church does have about 15 minutes of singing, and it's very contemporary music and I've seen many kids hang out with their parents during the music, and it's completely acceptable for the kids to even dance while the worship music plays. So, I know that they would both love that.

I don't know how old your kids are, but do they sit and listen to the sermon? I know some people let their kids color or something, but that seems to defeat the purpose of teaching them to pay attention and enjoy the service.

As I mentioned before, the 5yr old class and on up attend the music portion with their class and they are in the front rows of the church, so I can see them. They all stand still, pay attention, participate in the singing...it's great to see. I always assumed that this was because they were of an age that they could handle this. But now that my ds is 4.5, I'm wondering how he's going to do six months from now! In general, he's very well behaved, bright, and sweet. But get him around other kids (or even his brother) and he just gets out of hand sometimes!

I think I'll try what you suggested. Do you have any suggestions on how to discipline when they do not behave? It seems like the only thing you can do is take them out of the santuary, but then that seems to reward the behavior if they're goofing off because they're bored or not wanting to be still.

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#16 of 19 Old 03-12-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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I have to agree with lilyka wrt "children's church". Like her, we are Orthodox, and there is no such animal. However, it is also much more flexible in terms of being able to move around (at least in our Church, as there are no pews), and it is a simple enough matter to take a misbehaving child outside for a few moments to settle down.

When mine were very young, we only went for maybe 15-20 minutes of the Liturgy. The older they got, the longer we stayed. Sometimes, I'd let them take a "break" and we'd go outside for a few moments, especially with longer services.

I do think that it would be good to get your boys to participate in your mealtime prayers, rather than having just Dad say the prayer. Even so, they are more than old enough to sit still for 30-60 seconds.
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#17 of 19 Old 03-12-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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first if I have to take my kids out I do so without apology. one sunday that meant me dragging my six year old out as she grasped on to people and pews desperately screaming "help!! i think she is going to hit me. you have to help me" ahhh yes. good times (for the record we don't hit....but homegirl knows how to cause a scene). The Parish council president said something to her as she was standing in time out (after that scene she had to stand in time out until she could agree to act civilized. I was not even asking for an apology....) To this day (and she is almost 10 now) I have no idea what he said to her, but she has hardly caused me any grief in church since. and she adores him so it couldn't have been bad. let their church family help.

when I would take them out, even as babies it was so they did not disrupt other people or to correct their behaviors. it was not play time. it was not so they could have a break. they were not alllowed to talk to people, get down, play. as soon as they were quiet we went back in. SOmetimes we didn't even make it back to our seats before had to turn around again. but eventually they got it. they knew the rules and knew I would allow no infraction or boundry pushing in church. They also learned to love church. It usually meant leaving one in their seat alone....for some reason this worked. even when my oldest was like 5 (I am a single mom, dragging one already disruptive child out of church is a challenege, dragging one who wants to get out and one who wants to stay...nightmare. but "sit in your seat and do not move till I get back" seemed to work for my older one. she would even take care of the baby while I went out.)

with infants I spent a lot of time pacing in the back or sitting on the floor while they played.

we stand a lot in church. I have never expected my youngest to stand through all of it of course. (two hours, mostly on your feet) but she sits nicely. I try to spread out what we do a little. make sure she goes to the bathroom and stuff when we get there. then she gets to light her own candle. she is finally tall enough to venerate the icons without helps. it takes a while but no one is in a rush. if she wants to make another round later thats cool. she has tapes of the liturgy she listens to at night so she knows all the songs. if I were a better mom I would go over the scripture readings the night before. there are a couple spots in the service where we line up and file towards the front. We make the sign of the cross...every 30 second or so, and we sing through out the service. its is nicely broken up so she is not in one spot dieing for too long. no coloring books, toys or reading material, no snacks or sippy cups have ever been allowed by me in church. If they did something in sunday school that stuff goes under my purse. they are allowed to have a bulliten but if they get caught playing with it I take it away. our sermons are long if they go 15 minutes though. can't help you there. When we were protestant they did go to childrens church during the sermon. it would drag on for an hour. even I tuned most of it out.....doodled....made a trip to the bathroom just because I could....but the most important thing is to help the own the service (whatever part they are in for) and let them know God loves to hear their praises and prayers!!! let them know they are an important part of the gathering and that *this* is meant for *them*. the God wants to bless *them* during this time of worship. not just the grown ups but them too!!! and start small. like I said. maybe just the first song. maybe even just one child. When we started attending an Orthodox church i started bringing just my youngest. I was able to give 100% of my attention to her. help her understand things, answer her questions, let the old people fall in love with her then I added my second oldest (7 at the time) then my oldest (10). My kids often sit with other adults at church. this helps me give whoever is left 100% of my attention.

reward...ok church is its own reward but I do try to give my kids a little boost if they did well in church. Our church has snacks/lunch every sunday after church. its the only day of the week my kids get to eat that kind of junk. I also really carry on about how well behaved they were, how proud I am, etc when they work hard to behave and participate in church. I make an effort to go to fun youth stuff every chance we get. they go to special service as well which is really helping them love church. they are getting to know their priest, his family and other families in the church. That all helps to make this their church and theirt family.

I am also fortunate to go to churches very tolerant of children learning. a fussing child is helped and loved on by all. when my children do act up i don't have to worry about what people think about their behavior or by how I handle it. we can just deal with it in a natural relaxed way. and often people are willing to help. (for instance if my kids are feeding off each other there may be someone there who will take one to sit somewhere else. problem solved.)

another thing that helps is staying physically attatched to my child. I rub her back, kiss the top of her head, help her cross herself, hold her hand. it is a very sweet time for us it also helps me quickly address behavior issues (usually by grabbing a hand reaching out to annoy a sibling ) because I am tuned in with what that child is doing. my kids are getting older so we don;t spend a lot of time cuddling. they love church because they get that affection in larger doses. and they know that behaving prolongs it. its win win win.

We are fortunate to know excatly what scripture will be read and have good ghuess on the topic of the sermon on any given week of the year. I can go online and down load complete childrens lessons, the music, coloring pages that relate etc so if I did want to let them color or have a little book it could be one that went exactly with the stuff for the day.

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#18 of 19 Old 03-13-2010, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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.but the most important thing is to help the own the service (whatever part they are in for) and let them know God loves to hear their praises and prayers!!! let them know they are an important part of the gathering and that *this* is meant for *them*. the God wants to bless *them* during this time of worship. not just the grown ups but them too!!! and start small. like I said. maybe just the first song. maybe even just one child. When we started attending an Orthodox church i started bringing just my youngest. I was able to give 100% of my attention to her. help her understand things, answer her questions, let the old people fall in love with her then I added my second oldest (7 at the time) then my oldest (10). My kids often sit with other adults at church. this helps me give whoever is left 100% of my attention.
Love THIS ^^

Ok, so our church services are very different from yours! It seems like your services have alot of "activities!" So, ours is about 15 minutes of singing and then an hour of sermon. I think we'll start bringing them in for the singing, which is all standing, but at least they can have the experience of being in the "big church" and know the importance of it all. My kids DO love church. And we do consider the people their our church family. They love to go and they are definitely learning about God. All good things.

I'm thinking, "baby steps." They are 3 and 4, we can do this...one step at a time!

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#19 of 19 Old 03-13-2010, 11:54 PM
 
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When we went to a protestant church I just kept them in for the singing. the sermons were long, technical and often pg13. not the place for children. but certainly they could be in for the singing. and I expected them to participate and at least sing along. the knew the songs well enough. and that started when they were about 18 months, 4, and 7. it was a dissaster at first. I won't lie. but i just consistantly kept at it. they figured it out eventually.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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