My son is very, very active with very few inhibitions and he tends to be into everything and he has a very short attention span. To keep him more quiet and attentive in church, I have encouraged him to breastfeed extensively right in the service. About a month ago I got an anomynous complaint about my breastfeeding him in church (which is interesting since I've been going his whole life and NEVER made a point to take him out just to breastfeed). There is really no good place to take Billy in this church at this stage of his life since he's so active and noisy and into everything, and I had noticed that some people seem annoyed at him when I have him in the fellowship hall (there's constantly people in and out for the bathroom), so I've started taking him to another church where they have a nursury filled with toys he loves, and they have a Sunday School class geared just to little ones like him, so of course he loves it and does very well there. The trouble is, I seriously miss my friends at my regular church. We were back one time since the complaint, though I came late. Billy actually did fairly well that day, not even nursing during the time we were there and not getting TOO rambunctious. Of the three times I've taken him to the other church there was one Sunday he had to go to the nursury maybe 15-20 minutes, one Sunday where he stayed in the worship service the entire time and then went to his Sunday School class, and another service where he asked to, and actually needed to, go to the nursury for nearly all of the worship service. In his defence I will say that he loves Jesus and he's listening even as he plays, crawls and walks (they have the worship service piped right into the nursery so he really doesn't miss a thing in there, he's just not where he's getting bored and making others uncomfortable). But I miss my friends terribly. Once he's three, he could at least in theory go to Sunday School at my usual church though at this point I can hardly imagine him walking nicely, staying in line, paying attention long enough, coloring, pasting, etc, etc.
I have always taken the approach of giving him lots of learning opportunities and even helping him learn if he was eager to, but never forcing it on him. He didn't even really have an interest in books until he was two (and almost 0 attention span ) , and I didn't push him. Now he will look at pictures and listen to him read to him a few minutes at a time but he has little interest in scribbling or coloring. My question is, if I don't make him learn how to behave in public, when will he learn? I'm pretty sure he WILL learn at some point because even now there's many times I can instruct him to walk, not run, use a soft voice, play quietly next to me, etc and he listens and actually does it. Obviously there's also many times when he seemingly can't focus. Since he's just very immature and not actually "bad" I really don't want to impose consequences either. At this rate and with my appoach, when will he stop being such a big baby? By his third birthday only six months away as I hope? Is it time to change my approach and become more firm even though he is almost never rebellious, is always so cheerful and in general is a wonderful little boy just very immature? Thoughts or personal experiences please! Thanks for reading.
children need to play to develop, especially interacting with other kids to learn what is acceptable and also to learn other skills. don't be too harsh on the little guy.
maybe you could go to both churches.
maybe some mothers at the first church could use a nursery too, so maybe you could help get one started.
church is supposed to be about inclusion and helping isn't it.
Thanks for reading and replying. I am glad my son has a place to play in the new church, but still, I'm wondering when he'll start to act more mature fairly dependably if I don't force him to learn. Thanks again.
do you have any friends with kids that he can play with ?
I would suspect that he will start to act more mature fairly dependably in about 16 years. :)
As to when he might be ready to be in the preschool-type class - lots of kids aren't ready at 3 years old for that. Many are more prepared sometime in their 3's. If you're looking for something other than "by age 16" though... and I'm tempted to say the same... I think age 8+ is much more dependable, but only because around age 8 I now am startung ti trust my son to go off and take a walk in a building/situation like that, by himself.
at 16 I was playing chasey with my friends and my friend hid behind the curtains in the church and the service started up and she had to stay there for the whole service. but at least we weren't into smoking or stuff like that.
Thanks for making me laugh, ladies! I didn't realize how uptight I was becoming about Billy. It's good to know that if Billy isn't ready for a preschool class on his third birthday readiness will still likely happen before he is four.
As for him needing 16 more years to mature, Oh my! By age 8 sounds more manageable.
I think I might check to see if my usual church is minus a good place for restless toddlers by default or by matter of principle. It would be great if they let set up a lesser used room for toddlers. If the service can be readily heard from that room I'd be willing to sit in there every Sunday I'm there!
Your son sounds like he is doing all the things he should be at his age. I read once "metamorphosis" is a much more accurate term for the change from infanthood to adulthood than "growth" is, because their brains operate so differently than ours. He is exploring his world, and that's exactly what he needs to do right now. My son can sometimes sit quietly through a church service (22mos) and it has nothing to do with parenting or "maturity" ... it's just his temperament. I'm so sorry your church hasn't made space for him/kids in his stage.
There is a very good chance he will be ready for a preschool style class by 3.5 or 4, but remember we have different styles of learning and engaging. I was a very kind, respectful child, but I never liked coloring. Sitting still was really difficult for me, and I still have to knit or squish playdough to pay attention to a whole sermon now. It sounds like you are mothering him beautifully, keep it up and hopefully you can settle into a good church routine soon.
He sounds like a typical 2.5-yr-old. My DS is 39 months. My expectation for him is that he make it to the children's sermon, so that's usually 10-15 minutes into the service. He recently started going up to the front for the children's sermon by himself, without me taking him up. Afterward I take him to the staffed nursery and then rejoin the service. Our nursery is officially for kids age 4 and under, but sometimes older kids will "help" in the nursery, too.
If you want to work on sitting, listening, etc, your local library story time is a good place to start. Or a music class, or something like that geared to toddlers.
I was going to suggest if you have other friends with children, maybe take turns watching each others kids each wekk.
Single (divorced), self-employed working, college student MOM to:
17 yr old
11 yr old
4 yr old
Services at my old chuirch are typically about two and a half hours. I didn't expect my son to sit quietly the whole time. I encouraged lots of nursing, and allowed him to play quietly on the floor next to me or on the pew beside me, or eat his snacks. Still, it was hard and often exhausting and many were the times I had to take him somewhere else, which wasn't so great as they don't have a good place for restless toddlers, though they do for babies.
My son has really adjusted well to the new church. This past week "Esther Grandma" and I planned to go for SS Christmas supper, and since Billy is not part of it I was going to leave him at home but I had no idea how eager and excited he would be to go to church! It's a problem I'm so happy to have, and it was fun to share my problem with the other women. I'm kind of adjusting and making new friends, but still think of my old church fondly and intend to go back.
Wow, me and DH couldnt sit still for 2.5 hours. I can't imagine:taking my 2 1/2 year old anywhere for 2.5 hours and expecting her to behave at all. Honestly, I expect her to act like a non-feral child for about an hour a 15 minutes if we are in a sit down situation. And that's with my help,and my planning: making sure I have snacks, crayons, the ipad, and having had plenty of sleep and attention beforehand. After that, it's pretty much either we leave or we really loosen our expectations of what is appropriate behavior. After a little over an hour, she needs to run around and burn off some energy.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
Take your child to whatever service you prefer. Ignore all the naysayers who look at you funny or complain about your child. You are in the right for bringing him. Jesus said "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Granted, if your child is screaming and throwing a fit, you need to remove him until he quiets down. But small little toddler noises, don't worry about it.
Try always sitting in the same place at church each time you go. That way, people who don't want to be around kids because they're too distracted can sit someone else. I also like to sit close to the music too. It seems like it's not as quiet over there and when we sing, it drowns my kids out a bit. My 4 year old is great. Sometimes he bangs his cars a little too loudly and we have to quiet him. Sometime he gets into arguments with his brother over toys, so we try to separate them at church with me and my hubby in between them. My almost 2 year old just seems to talk and talk all through Mass. When I shhh him he just yells "NO MOMMY" and gets more disruptive, so I try not to shh him unless he gets too loud. Also, pointing things out to them quiets them down. "Where are the candles? Look candles! Look at the statue of Jesus.... Look, lights... Look she's playing the piano". Also I can sometimes get my 2 year old to participate. "Can you say Lord hear our prayer?" "Do you want to sing Alleluia?" "Time to give peace and shake hands" (both my kids love this part).
I have a 4 year old and a 23 month old that I bring to Church every week. Mass is only 1 hour long though. I give them matchbox cars to play with quietly, or books, or those magnetic books. It's helpful to just have toys dedicated for church, so they can only play with them there.
The more you go, the easier it gets! Good luck!
Our church service is about 1 - 1.5 hours long. We do have nursery, and child care, for ages baby to 5th grade. However my 3 year old doesn't like to be left, and therefore lately has sat with us. He does well, surprisingly. I couldn't expect him to last twice as long. Is there any sort of intermission or break?
I don't know if this would get more or less dirty looks from other church members, but could you give him a smart phone or tablet with headphones to play while at church? I am sure there are probably some religious themed children's apps - or you could find themed religous cartoons (veggie tales, etc) on youtube if you'd like it to be something God-focused during that time frame.
Also, by the time he is 3 and can go to Sunday School, you may be surprised how much he's changed and how able to follow direction. a lot can happen in 6 months at this age. And hopefully the sunday school teachers have experience and compassion dealing with 3 year olds that have a lot of energy.
Katrina - Mama to Gabriel 11/20/2009 and Norah 10/11/2011- married to Wayne -  and now new baby Theodore born 3/11/13
It looks like this isn't your problem, it's your church's. They have literally lost you as a congregant because they are failing to accomodate toddler's needs. Another church has figured it out. Let your church know about this and see if they can set up a better place for your son to go!