Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to Get Your Kid to Sit Through Church

My mother had HAD it.  We were done for, my sister and I.  Sitting through that hour and 15 minutes of church was just too much for us that day.

So, she brought us home to torture us.  She sat me alone in the living room facing a wall.  My sister was in another room facing her wall.  We sat there for the length of time we were irreverent in church. A full hour. My 5 year old self hated every moment and I swore I would never misbehave in church again. 

I tell you what. I’m 35 and I still remember that. Even the part where my dad sneaked in just to point and laugh at us. 

This experience ran through my mind today as I shoved toy cars, coloring books, and a half-eaten apple into my bag and stormed out of church early with my 3 boys.  My husband is often directing the meeting, so I feel very much… a l o n e.  Snacks, coloring books, THREATS, dragging them out to the foyer, I've done it all.  I even made rotating activity bags.  (Found that on Pinterest.)  Oh so promising.  Pshht.
Poor kids. I mean seriously.  They aren't all that bad. Laughing too loudly, making car noises, rolling around on the floor, sneaking under the benches. Normal kid stuff. But church is a different world. Kids are expected to go against every natural behavior they may have. It’s HARD for them.   My kids are 7, 5, and a gigantic bestial 2 year old.   
 Meet the beast. AKA Gabriel. My angel.
Leaving church that day I wanted to PUNISH them super awesomely good. It had to be the WORST possible thing I could think of...
Which brings us back to my mother's idea of "chair sitting". 
I did it just like mom did.  No yelling, no threats.  I just sat them down in those chairs and told them they couldn’t move or speak for a whopping 10 minutes.  I added an extra minute each time they opened their mouths.  I used a timer.  They learned quickly to keep it zipped.  (The 2 year old was in bed at this point). 

This was difficult for the 5 year old.  He could hardly contain himself.  Buah ah ah ah ah.  It was working! 
1. Before church, explain to your kids that each time you have to remind them to behave, it's one minute sitting at home after church.

2. No more food or toys at church (at least for the older ones). 

3. THEY each choose ONE book before church to busy themselves. Let THEM pick it so if they aren't happy with it, it's their business. (My kids like dot-to-dot and puzzle books.)

4. While at church, each time they misbehave I calmly say, "That's one minute. That's two minutes.  Etc." If they whine about it, that's another minute. I don’t have to DO anything else while AT church.  No taking them to the foyer for a time out unless it's unbearable.

5. Sometimes if they start behaving well I take minutes away to encourage continued good behavior.

Now… THEY are in charge of how long they sit in the chair (if at all).   They're behavior is on them. Control yo self!


  1. Eliza, love it! I remember being 12 and Bishop Ward called me into his office to get on to me for writing notes and talking to Jenny. He asked me to be a good example. lol Not sure how I did... but I remember always having fun with you and your sisters. I might have to pass this blog along to some of my friends.

    1. Bishop Ward!! Aw Erin we had so much fun growing up together. I remember making shampoo. And eating large quantities of chips and salsa. Please share the blog!