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Old 09-04-2011, 06:04 PM   #11
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

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Honestly, I don't think kids should have "distractions" during church. If anything, a Bible picture book would be appropriate but that is as far as I'd go.
May I ask how old your daughter is and how long she is required to sit in church?

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Old 09-04-2011, 06:19 PM   #12
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

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May I ask how old your daughter is and how long she is required to sit in church?
I don't know this person you were referring too. But I always went to Children's church, but if I couldn't, I was very well behaved, and knew church was where I was too be quiet, I'd say by 3, I knew that.
Before that it was nursery, childrens church.
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:23 PM   #13
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

My daughter is 1. Some families bring toys and food but there are a few who feel the same way we do and have kids from 1 year to 4 years.

I just don't see the point in even bringing your child to church if they aren't paying attention. They aren't even "observing" what is going on during the service since they are occupied with their toys. That is just my opinion.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:14 PM   #14
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

Here is a great link to series of posts on children in church. A lot of reading, but good ideas and thoughts on children in church (from a perspective of keeping kids with them in church from infancy).
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:18 PM   #15
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

I'm LDS, so my examples are based on my church experience. We're at church for three hours, but only the first is in a general meeting with all of us. The rest of the time my son (3 years old this month) is in nursery. This January he'll start a class for older kiddos. To keep him busy and focused during church I bring a backpack with a few different things. I have a small white board card-like thing that I got in the dollar section of target. He likes to draw and wipe the card off. I like this because it saves paper I also have a couple of books that he likes. I don't think he can sit for an hour without having some quiet distractions- but we do encourage him to pay attention to what's going on around him. He follows the music in the hymnal with his finger and sometimes waves his arm along with the person leading the music. While the sacrament is blessed he sits quietly and I whisper in his ear about what it all means. I have a couple of books and magazines that show different items in the chapel- and he will find them in the room. For instance, there is a picture of the bread and water to be blessed, or children folding their arms, and he "finds them with his eyes" and then points on the picture. Sometimes when he hears a word or an idea he understands, like someone talking about temples, he'll draw pictures on his little erase board and show me. He loves to sing, and always fold his arms for prayer. I also encourage him to say "Amen" when it is appropriate, so that I know in his own small way he's always listening.

I feel my approach is developmentally appropriate for my son. I had grand visions of his sitting like little angel in church doing nothing but soaking up the messages, and then he started walking I feel like we do a good job with our specific child, and there are lots of approaches that are right for different families and congregations.

We have another book that we read at home called Listening Time. It shows the right things to do to be a good "listener," so if my son starts chatting (as he does, because he's THREE) I remind him to "zip it, lock it, put it in his pocket" and the fun little game helps him remember to whisper, be quiet, and listen.

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Old 09-04-2011, 09:37 PM   #16
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

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Um, we have a little backpack for my son that we've taken to church every week since he was about 18 months. It has a crayon roll and notebook, some magnetic animals/trains, stickers, a few cars, a few books, and a dry erase board with dry erase crayons. Then we add another small toy sometimes if he wants something else. But, through the week, we leave those things in the bag, so they are special for church. Not that he doesn't get to draw at other times, but you know what i mean.
I have something similar for DD. Felt books, dolls with clothes, and wooden beads and thread are also favorites of ours.
Snacks are also essential as church is during her normal mealtime.

In the church that I attend/my denomination, there is no nursery or children's program for the church service. Before church there is a sabbath school component that breaks down by ages, then everyone of all ages attends the church service together. We arrive at church after breakfast and leave after our normal lunch time- this is a long period of time but DD has been attending weekly since she was 1 week old.


Developmentally speaking is isn't appropriate to expect a young child/toddler to 'sit and listen quietly' to a church service that is designed for adults and most likely beyond their comprehension level and not presented in a way that would appeal to them. Having quiet toys and activities does not mean they are not absorbing the information and routines/traditions that are taking place throughout the service. As probably every parent can attest to, kids are ALWAYS listening and taking in information. Their little hands and bodies may require motion and activity, but they are absorbing information all around them. Just try talking about something inappropriate for their little ears while they are busy a room away and see how true this is :P I am happy to attend a church that is full of young children and mostly attended by people who understand that children are children- just the way God designed them. And while they may not yet know or be able to follow all of the rules in place at a particular church, they are learning through experience and observation. I've seen how parents struggle with older preschoolers and young children after avoiding church in the first few years due to noise/activity level/attention span and then expecting them to understand and cooperate a few years later. When I go to professional development workshops there are always adults present who are better able to listen and learn while keeping their hands busy (doodling, knitting, etc). I feel the same principles of learning should be 'allowed' of children in church.

I offer DD activities that offer diversion so a she can be present for church and take her out to the foyer or mother's room when there is one if she is having a hard time. The whole church service is around 2 hours which is a long time to be in one contained spot for a 1 year old, but we manage. This is also following the hour of sabbath school where she has attended the children program...and missed her morning nap, eek. Some weeks we do more walking in the foyer than others ...the infant period where I could just nurse her and she was happy to nap or have people smile at her were wonderful!
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:57 PM   #17
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Re: Ideas for toddler at church

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I just don't see the point in even bringing your child to church if they aren't paying attention. They aren't even "observing" what is going on during the service since they are occupied with their toys. That is just my opinion.
There are many reasons why kids would go into the church service. Our church has nursery on Sundays, so I typically leave DD (age 3) there. However, for our Christmas Eve service, no child care is provided so that it can be a family event. And we took DD into service with us the Sunday that her 14-year-old cousin was baptized because I knew she'd want to see her.

Sometimes, the child simply refuses to go to the nursery. One of DD's little friends went through a spell like this recently. Or if they go in there, they cry for so long that the parents have to be paged, so they either all have to leave the building or take the child back into the service with them.

So yeah, sometimes you do have to bring the kids to the church service. I'd rather they have something to occupy themselves even if they're not paying attention rather than making *themselves* the object of attention.

For us, a baggie full of Cheerios, a sippy cup, pens/pencils, coloring books, and notepads usually do the trick. Nothing fancy, just quiet things to do.
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Old 09-04-2011, 10:18 PM   #18
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We have a specific mass bag we keep in the car. There are crayons and catholic coloring books, quiet baby toys, a nontoxic wooden rosary toy, sewing cards. These toys are NEVER in general rotation.
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