Can your 3 year old sit quietly through a religious service? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-15-2010, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
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I will start attending service soon and wanted to take my nearly 3 year old DD.

She's been to my parents' church a few times, but they have a nursery. We won't have the nursery option and they don't have children's services. It would be 45 minutes. She can play quitely at home for that amount of time so I'm thinking of giving it a shot (we can sit near a side exit and sneak out if she gets unruly) and maybe bringing along a mini etchasketch and a couple of books to keep her entertained.

Does this seem reasonable or am I expecting too much?
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:13 PM
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We aren't regular church-goers, but I found that, when we attended MIL's church, DD was fine at that age. Believe it or not, it was harder when she was four. We just brought stuff to draw, a non-messy snack and a sippy cup.

The only thing you'll probably find is that you're so busy keeping your DD from being disruptive that you can't pay attention to the service yourself. At least that was my experience.

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Old 07-15-2010, 01:23 PM
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My kids do tend to get the wiggles, but yeah our three year old is fine in church. Our 19mo is the one that usually wants to be up running around.

It may take a bit of time to get her used to the idea, but I'm sure she'll be fine. If you are attending a family-integrated church you will find they are used to hearing the little ones make some noise and won't be bothered by it.
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:58 PM
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My 3 year old will not sit still but with my crew I will claim a whole short pew and let him walk the length of the pew as much as he wants. I have found most people just smile at him. Quiet is the harder one. As long as the entire place does not hear him, people don't tend to mind. Screaming, "I WANT OUT NOW!!!" at the top of his lungs over and over again is another story. Yes, this did happen once!
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:37 PM
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My 2.5 yr old can. We start out with a snack, and then she looks at books and colors. No problems at all.

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Old 07-15-2010, 03:02 PM
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We no longer attend church, but when our kids were that age, we did.

It was torture for all involved.
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:12 PM
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any expectation i think is a bit much at that age.

there are a few things to do.

before churchtime make sure you get at least half hour of playtime before service.

have snacks and lots of entertaining stuff to do.

an hour. i think they can barely handle. anything else might be a bit much.

the only way you know it is by trying it. give it a few tries. allow her to get used to it.

my dd at 3 started attending meditations with me. it was at 6 pm. end of a long day. she would fall asleep. whew!!!!

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Old 07-15-2010, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by staceychev View Post
The only thing you'll probably find is that you're so busy keeping your DD from being disruptive that you can't pay attention to the service yourself. At least that was my experience.
That's what I found too. I spent so much time trying to keep my little one from bothering other people, that I didn't get anything out of the service myself. Then when he got older, and I was able to better pay attention, I realized I didn't much like what was being said, so we stopped going.

I would strongly recommend that you attend a few services without your 3 y.o. so you can make sure the church is right for you before you've spent years trying to become part of the church community.
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:04 PM
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Depends on the service. We go to a fairly traditional Lutheran service, and the sermons last 15-25 minutes. That's the amount of time that a child needs to be relatively quiet. The rest of the time is made up of prayers, singing, responses to prayers, giving the handshake of peace, and communion. There's a lot of up and down, congregational responses, etc. That covers a lot of kid movement.

No way could my kids be quiet and still for a full 45 minutes at age 3. I don't think my 6 year old could do that now, and she's a pretty mellow kid. Even now, she and her best friend spend a lot of time playing, going under the pews, drawing, etc. They have to be reminded about every 5 minutes during the sermon to be quiet.

I'll also say that our congregation is very child friendly -- we provide books, etch-a-sketches, magnadoodles and drawing materials in a bin in the back that all the kids can borrow from. There's a children's sermon where the kids go up to the altar. There is a high tolerance for kid noise. And if the child gets too loud, there's either the nursery (staffed by paid attendants who've passed background checks) or parents can take their kids out to the narthex (the area just outside the sanctuary). There are speakers out there that relay what's going on in church so you can hear it.

It might be worth your while to search out churches that appear to be more tolerant of a kid noise during the service. IMO, the welcome your kids get tells you a lot about the values of the church. I feel very blessed to have the older ladies in the congregation tell me "I love seeing your kids in church. They're such good kids," (even when they haven't been all that quiet during church).

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:04 PM
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Mine is almost 6 and has only recently been able to semi make it through a service. When he was 3, absolutely not. There were those 3 year olds in there whose parents I was envious of because they sat beautifully, but ds would not, so he went to the nursery. At some places, they allow the children to color quietly or eat Cheerios to keep them occupied - maybe there could be something to help entertain her quietly.
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Old 07-15-2010, 08:55 PM
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I was going to ask how child friendly the church was. Ours offers coloring books and crayons for the little ones, and has a room right next to the sanctuary where the pipe in the audio from the service if you need to step out during the service.

but the bottom line is you probably won't know how your LO will do until you try it and see hope it goes well!

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Old 07-15-2010, 09:00 PM
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Expect it to take some time for her to get used to it. My kids do sit through service, but I think it's because they've been doing it for a long time. And even though they've always gone to church, there are still times when they're making too much noise and I take them outside.

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Old 07-16-2010, 10:29 AM
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My church actually has a kids service, which is wonderful. It's meant for infants-9 year olds. The rector has the kids ring the church bell (there's a long cord that hangs down in to the vestibule of the church) and gather up on the steps of the altar to listen to a bible story. The sermon is geared toward them...we sing pretty much the same hymns and do the same prayers each time, it's a really great introduction to the church.

As far as the wiggles--my now 5 year old has always been pretty good at church. Every once in a while she cuts up. You probably know best what kind of capacity for stillness/quietness your child has.
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Old 07-16-2010, 10:41 AM
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Nope. No way. Uh uh.

Mine are 4 & 3, and I ask that they sit with me (Episcopal service) through the beginning of the service through the reading of the gospel. I provide books that they can read quietly while they hang in there for 15-20 minutes.

Then, I let them go to the little kids' Sunday School portion in the room in back with the other kids/supervising adult; they come back at communion, and get to go back out after that.

That is about as much as they can handle, and it's taken A LOT of practice to get to this point.

I will start expecting more as they age, but for preschoolers, I expect that they can sit with me for only a little while. Also, I'll hold them or they can stand with me....I simply expect them to be quiet and respectful. We're getting there.

There was an interesting piece on Beliefnet a few years back called "Church Without Cheerios" that made me think about the importance of helping kids sit through church and how it was a process of practice and expectations, etc. It was good; I don't know if it's still around, but I liked it.

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Old 07-16-2010, 02:28 PM
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Mine could not at 3.5 and I'd say she's even less able to do it at 4.5, though I can't figure why. She just can NOT sit still that long, and quiet? NO. She has a lot of questions and she does get bored. I spend so much time managing her, I don't get much of anything out of the service.
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Old 07-17-2010, 12:13 AM
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Short answer: no. I stopped going to church with DD when she was younger because it was too hard for her to be quiet and I got sick of bothering with it. I didn't like for her to go to the nursery because it was one gigantic germ factory and she always came home with a cold. At another church, we would spend the entire service in the cry room. Except for getting our son baptized, we will not attend church regularly for a few years.

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Old 07-17-2010, 03:01 PM
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Yes. We're Catholic and attend Mass (one hour long) every Sunday. Most of the time, ds (age 3) does fine. Occasionally dh goes and stand with him in the back of the church. Our parish has a "cry room" to be used when kids are crying and parents can still see and hear the service. Very rarely do we end up in there soley because of ds (usually it's a combo of ds not sleeping well and being grouchy, plus ds2 teething or if I take the three-year-old by myself.)

ETA: We found, that for our kids at least, things always went better if we DIDN'T bring a snack or toys or coloring things. With dd we did until she was 3.5ish, but we stopped with ds around 2 and things have gotten a lot better!

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Old 07-18-2010, 06:43 PM
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quiet-ish... I always bring a bag of quiet things that they only see during church or long car rides: cars, various art supplies, books, tiny animals, a non-messy snack (often fed by me bite by bite to further minimize mess), small puzzles, etc., and my DS's (4 and 2) are pretty good at occupying themselves for the 45" or so that they need to before the kids are dismissed for children's church. I really want to make a busy book/quiet book (lots of tutorials online) with buttoning, tying, matching, felt board, locks and keys, etc., but I haven't made the time yet.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:14 PM
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I'm not religious so we don't go but I know my kids (and have been to services of most faiths.) No way. No how. Neither of my kids (three and just turned six.) They are talkers. And movers. And singers.
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