3 y.o. in sunday school. I don't know what to do. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ds just turned 3. I want him to go from the church nursery (which he hates anyways) to the sunday school program for 3-4 year olds. Ds is mad because he just wants to play with the toys. I feel as though he should be getting into some structured play/crafts with other kids. He does it at home, but cries at the church. I've taken him only twice, both times I've stayed with him and tried to encourage him to participate. He has refused and just stands beside me, sucking his thumb. He is very smart and has a huge vocabulary, but seems socially challenged. I wonder if I am expecting too much from him. I don't know if I should back off or if I should keep encouraging him to go to sunday school. I can only be with him 2 out of every 4 sundays due to my own commitments (I play bass on the worship team and DH has his own commitments during the weeks I play).
Today I was so frustrated with him that I pulled him out and we went into the service. I don't know what to do....
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#2 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 04:53 PM
 
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Well, my ds is not yet two so I don't have any real experience with this. But it seems to me that you shouldn't force him into something he isn't ready for. I might continue to take him into the room when you can be there with him and encourage him to participate. But try to have no expectations for that so you won't get frustrated if he doesn't. Is he able to tell you what he doesn't like about it?

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#3 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 04:58 PM
 
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Why can't you just take him into the service with you?

I personally would never go to a place of worship where my children were not welcome to stay with me. Sure, if they had age appropriate activities that my children enjoyed I'd have no problem dropping them off, but I'd never force them to go.

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#4 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 06:33 PM
 
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I think you might be expecting too much from him. My DS is 3 1/2 and he's just now getting to where he understands more structured activities, although his approach to them is still fairly unstructured.

Sounds like a big headache for both of you. He's 3 so it's a funny age... he's not really old enough to sit still for an hour, but in some cases not really old enough to do a Sunday school sort of thing, ya know?
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#5 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 07:05 PM
 
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Don't push him. It's not worth it, believe me. He'll grow up soon enough, kwim?
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#6 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 08:16 PM
 
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3 is really young for structured activities IMO. It's one thing if the child likes some and enjoys it, but another if he doesn't. My DD1 is 4 and only recently starting liking some structured things.

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#7 of 21 Old 05-13-2007, 09:10 PM
 
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I wouldn't push it. 3 is very young for structured activities. He probably hates nursery because he hates the separation from you. How does he do in church? If he's OK, can you bring a collection of quiet toys (puzzles, books) and just let him be with you?

At our church, Sunday School is in between services, so we still have to decide whether to send our almost 3 year old to the nursery or not. Mostly, she wants to be with us in church. Our ds didn't want to be in the nursery until he was 4 1/2 or so.

In addition, I co-teach the 2-3 year old class, and we absolutely do not expect them to participate in much structured at all. In addition, the parents stay with their kids the whole time, for the most part. The kids just aren't comfortable staying with people they only see once a week for an hour.

So, our class looks like this:
10:00 opening song, story
10:05 - 10:35 activity centers with a general 'theme' relating to the story- they're free to choose when/how much they do (craft center, sensory something, snack center, general play with preschool toys) - Some of the kids basically spend the entire time playing with the toys, others do all the 'centers'.
10:35-10:40 clean up
10:40-10:45 closing song, prayer, goodbyes

We have purposefully set it up this way - when my ds was this age, the only possible activities were arts/crafts, which he hated. He would have been content just to play with toys the whole time.

My main goal for church with my kids at this age is to have it be a place where they feel comfortable and welcome. They're too young to understand the theology much. So, I do all I can to make them be comfortable.

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#8 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I knew this was the advice I would get - to not push it. I try to trust my instincts, but I was feeling frustrated because I was expecting him to be ready for this. I worry about him being socially inept if I don't expose him to things like this.
He hates going to church right now. We just started going to this church in February and he misses the old church. He makes it quite clear that he doesn't like this church. And the Sunday School teachers really gave me the feeling that they didn't want to be there and I saw 2 teachers in 2 weeks snap at 4 children in total and talk down to them. The lump in my throat was there for a reason....
At least in the nursery the people there really seem to love the children and want to be volunteering there.
He does come into the service with us most times, but he ends up saying over and over "I want to go home now." And it really is boring for him. But he does sit through it extremely well as long as he has his blanket and his thumb and gets cuddles.
I feel bad that I expect something from him that he isn't ready for yet. It will just naturally come, right? Or do I have to encourage him a lot? I find I'm frustrated with a lot of things right now because I think he *should* be doing more (ie, dressing/undressing himself, fully potty trained, participating in structured activities). I have moments where I feel relaxed about it, and moments where I feel anxious and unfairly frustrated with him.
Thanks for reaffirming what I already knew.
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#9 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 02:55 AM
 
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I feel bad that I expect something from him that he isn't ready for yet. It will just naturally come, right? Or do I have to encourage him a lot? I find I'm frustrated with a lot of things right now because I think he *should* be doing more (ie, dressing/undressing himself, fully potty trained, participating in structured activities). I have moments where I feel relaxed about it, and moments where I feel anxious and unfairly frustrated with him.
Thanks for reaffirming what I already knew.


I think that there is a lot of things that a child may seem ready to do at age 2.5 and then at 3, almost seemingly suddenly, they pull back and don't want to--or have anxiety about it. So he may be ready to do a lot of things--he may be capable, but fearful at the same time.

My three year old loves the water and swimming; we just started a new swimming program and he is afraid. But it is new--and he is 3. So I know it will take some time to adjust.

Can you go with him to the nursery during the service and just sit in a chair and if he brings you a toy or talks with you or just wants to sit and observe for a bit he can; without fearing that you will leave?

I don't think that any setting should expect a 3 year old to sit and listen (continuously) in a new room full of toys--of course he will want to explore! But he is probably still listening and taking it all in--just in his own way.

Also, as a side, my oldest by is 6 and he and I go to Mass (sometimes with the 3 year-old boy and baby girl and sometimes just the 2 of us) of Sunday... he usually always sits with me now... Even though he could go out and play with his friends (this is basically what they do in Children's Liturgy after listening to the Liturgy for the day, and I think it is good for children to be together in the sunshine, being friends). But he likes to be with me, even if he doesn't always enjoy Mass... And we go to Mass at least 2x per week...

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#10 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 10:42 AM
 
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My children have all been in a Sunday School class since they were one. My little one is 2.5. She doesn't sit and listen the entire time and isn't expected to. As long as she is quiet when she gets up and wonders around it is fine. She is learning some. She enjoys going to Church and Sunday School, as well as our 6yr old twins do.
Our Church doesn't have a nursery because we are just a small country Church of about 35 people. Our pastor doesn't like them anyway. He feels a child should be brought up in the Church, not a nursery. Somedays the children can be a little loud or not be able to sit still, but he justs smiles and goes on. We have always asked him and he says he enjoys hearing the little ones in Church because he knows their parents are raising them up with God.
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#11 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 01:51 PM
 
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My children have all been in a Sunday School class since they were one. My little one is 2.5. She doesn't sit and listen the entire time and isn't expected to. As long as she is quiet when she gets up and wonders around it is fine. She is learning some. She enjoys going to Church and Sunday School, as well as our 6yr old twins do.
Our Church doesn't have a nursery because we are just a small country Church of about 35 people. Our pastor doesn't like them anyway. He feels a child should be brought up in the Church, not a nursery. Somedays the children can be a little loud or not be able to sit still, but he justs smiles and goes on. We have always asked him and he says he enjoys hearing the little ones in Church because he knows their parents are raising them up with God.
That is exactly how we do it. In fact my girls are 3 & 5 & they both look forward to class. They've been in a structured, but not overly structured, class setting since about 1.5 yrs old. I teach a class of my own so I can't jsut let them stay with me.

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#12 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 08:08 PM
 
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It's so hard to see your child struggle socially and not know what (if anything) you can do about it.

I suggest just being patient and not pushing him at all, as you said your gut tells you to do.

My 2.5 year old is in a mom-tot class with me, and he is hesitant to join in the group activities. I just do them and let him watch me while he plays. When he wants to join in, he does, but I put NO pressure at all on him. He'll do it when he's ready.

My 4 year old was TERRIFIED of other kids for a long time. She would literally cover her face and/or ears and cry if another child talked to her when she was about 2.5 years old. I was very patient (though terrified that she would never mature socially). We arrived places early so she could get accustomed to them before the crowds showed up. We never left her alone, so we could keep an eye on her, and if she got overwhelmed we'd take her out to calm down or regroup. Now, at 4, she is mostly fine around other kids. She initiates play and conversations, and in a new class she's taking (without me!), she runs right in without even saying bye to me. If you told me a year ago, when she just turned three, that she'd be like this, I'd have said you were crazy! It just took time and patience.

Good luck to you and your son. Go with your gut. If the program doesn't seem "right" for him, don't keep bringing him.

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#13 of 21 Old 05-14-2007, 08:11 PM
 
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Yeah, I'd wait, too. Our church won't take kids until they've turned 4 in August for fall classes. So, my 4 y.o. goes to nursery this year and LOVES it b/c we call it *his* CCD class. It's his idea. I whisper to both of my kids Sunday am that's it's time for class...do they want to get up? They both jump out of bed and get dressed. So, I always leave it up to them.

eta: Don't most churches encourage families to attend services together after class? It's not either/ or for our church.
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#14 of 21 Old 05-15-2007, 01:07 AM
 
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I certainly agree that you shouldn't push a particular child to do something he isn't ready for. Both of my children did fine in Sunday School starting at 3, but then they had been in the nursery since they were 6 wks old because both DH and I sing in the choir. And since they both did daycare and preschool they were used to a "school" type of routine.

If you want to help him be ready though, you might consider some other, non-church classes. Something that he would enjoy that you can either do with him (mommy & me stuff) or something where you can stay nearby and help him adjust in his own time. It might be less stressful than church since you have other commitments and such.
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#15 of 21 Old 05-15-2007, 01:47 PM
 
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DS is 3.75 and is STILL not ready for any type of structured class. DH and I and I have tried and it was a disaster!

And at just-turned-3? Whew! No way.

He would (and will) interrupt the class. He'd be all over the place.

"Structure" is not meeting his needs at this time. But he will get there in time, I am sure. I'm not going to push it and I'm not going to worry about it.

And yes, I DO think you are being unfairly frustrated with him.
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#16 of 21 Old 05-15-2007, 01:58 PM
 
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I have not read all the responses but here's what we did. Our nursery and workers are phenomenal at our church and want things to be a good experience for child and parent alike.

It took DS about 4 times to really get used to the idea and each time he stayed there a little longer when it got to be too much for him they would get us. On one of those occasions we were doing something in the service so they asked if they could give him to a friend - asked our friends, who said yes and DS adores, so they were our back up. On the 5th return it was simply "bye, you go to your church now" and he walked right in.

I've found that for my DS the magic number is 5 for complete comfort. 5 for soccer, 4 for swim lessons, and 5 for mom's day out.
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#17 of 21 Old 05-16-2007, 03:57 AM
 
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Ds just turned 3. I want him to go from the church nursery (which he hates anyways) to the sunday school program for 3-4 year olds. Ds is mad because he just wants to play with the toys. I feel as though he should be getting into some structured play/crafts with other kids. He does it at home, but cries at the church. I've taken him only twice, both times I've stayed with him and tried to encourage him to participate. He has refused and just stands beside me, sucking his thumb. He is very smart and has a huge vocabulary, but seems socially challenged. I wonder if I am expecting too much from him. I don't know if I should back off or if I should keep encouraging him to go to sunday school. I can only be with him 2 out of every 4 sundays due to my own commitments (I play bass on the worship team and DH has his own commitments during the weeks I play).
Today I was so frustrated with him that I pulled him out and we went into the service. I don't know what to do....
Don't force him!!!! 3 yos cannot be socially challenged. He wants you. Can you drop your worship team so you can care for him?
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#18 of 21 Old 05-16-2007, 03:59 AM
 
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I knew this was the advice I would get - to not push it. I try to trust my instincts, but I was feeling frustrated because I was expecting him to be ready for this. I worry about him being socially inept if I don't expose him to things like this.
He hates going to church right now. We just started going to this church in February and he misses the old church. He makes it quite clear that he doesn't like this church. And the Sunday School teachers really gave me the feeling that they didn't want to be there and I saw 2 teachers in 2 weeks snap at 4 children in total and talk down to them. The lump in my throat was there for a reason....
At least in the nursery the people there really seem to love the children and want to be volunteering there.
He does come into the service with us most times, but he ends up saying over and over "I want to go home now." And it really is boring for him. But he does sit through it extremely well as long as he has his blanket and his thumb and gets cuddles.
I feel bad that I expect something from him that he isn't ready for yet. It will just naturally come, right? Or do I have to encourage him a lot? I find I'm frustrated with a lot of things right now because I think he *should* be doing more (ie, dressing/undressing himself, fully potty trained, participating in structured activities). I have moments where I feel relaxed about it, and moments where I feel anxious and unfairly frustrated with him.
Thanks for reaffirming what I already knew.
Yes, you did know. And you knew a lot. Your son sounds like you. And that is a great thing!
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#19 of 21 Old 05-16-2007, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't force him!!!! 3 yos cannot be socially challenged. He wants you. Can you drop your worship team so you can care for him?
I would like to be able to stay with him all the time at church and help him integrate into the sunday school. However, it is difficult for me to do because I have a very loud and very demanding 9 month old who is very attached to me (literally - in the sling! ) and so it is hard for me to concentrate on helping my 3 y.o. get "into" the sunday school groove. And besides, playing bass on the worship team is basically the only self-care I get during the week (besides visiting mothering.com) so I really don't want to give that up.

I think for now we are going to go back to the nursery. He enjoys it sometimes and the volunteers in there at least seem like they like the kids. If not, he will hang out with us during the service.

I'm happy to hear you say that 3 year olds cannot be socially challenged. I worry that because I am so introverted I have stunted his social growth.
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#20 of 21 Old 05-16-2007, 10:16 PM
 
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And besides, playing bass on the worship team is basically the only self-care I get during the week (besides visiting mothering.com) so I really don't want to give that up.
I think this sort of thing is really important. We (moms) need to take care of ourselves in order to have something to give to others. And especially spiritually this is really key. You need to worship in whatever way works best for you -- only from that center can you help your child discover God in his way. My DH and I both sing in the choir at our church, which means that the kids have had to get used to the nursery very young (like 6 wks), they have a late bedtime on rehearsal nights, and they spend extra time in childcare on Sunday morning while we rehearse. I've thought about giving it up for their convenience many times but have always come back to the fact that this is how I best pray and worship. And without that base, I would not be as good a mother during the week or on Sundays! You need to keep your center in order to be the best mommy you can be. And if playing base is what gets that for you, then don't give it up. Its not like you are leaving your child in an unsafe or dangerous situation to do this. Its just not his favorite. But you know what? It's not always all about them, sometimes it has to be about the entire family, sometimes it has to be about you first, sometimes it has to be about the community and it ALWAYS needs to be about God.
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#21 of 21 Old 05-17-2007, 12:01 PM
 
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I'm happy to hear you say that 3 year olds cannot be socially challenged. I worry that because I am so introverted I have stunted his social growth.
No way, it's all about the child's personality and temperament.

I'm glad you were able to work it out
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