Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had enough. "You're not supposed to talk out loud in church."My kids are very antsy and sometimes loud during Mass. I'm sure many moms have something in their purse or perhaps a lineup of activity bags in the pew. Or perhaps you have a strict behavior policy your children adhere to well? I must say, I feel at peace during the first half of The Mass and The Children's Liturgy of the Word, where the young ones go out to learn in their own way. But when they return or sometime around The Consecration, it's "All Hands on Deck!"
"Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked.
Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, "See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers."
**Every young child has a point when they can't sit quietly any longer. I'd like us to share what we do to keep our children quiet or busy at Church. Read my ideas below, then link to or comment on yours!
CHURCH ETIQUETTE FOR CHILDREN
Go online to see there is much to be said about this subject. Here's a printable list of hints I found at King of Peace. Rather well said.
Fr. Saunders comments on Appropriate Behavior in Church. He writes "Jesus loves and welcomes children, but they do need our help." This is an excellent article for all ages of churchgoers. After all "Manners, whether at Mass or in other situations, reveal the value we place on each other and God. "
You might read this article about "Avoiding Mass Hysteria." She approaches the situation by not "packing their picnic baskets-activity bags for church" but helping the children focus on each part of the Mass. "Children are fast learners. The key is consistency." I agree that too many parents are allowing handheld games, tempting snacks and other ridiculous options to enter The Lord's House! She suggests:
*Until a child is 3 years old, he is a lap-sitter. His feet simply do not touch the ground. The child is held lovingly, but firmly, with no exceptions. If he puts up a struggle, he is promptly removed.Thanks to Catholic Icing's recent post, I found a worksheet at TheDivineMercy.org website. You can print a chart for children about Behavior at Mass.
There is a beautiful article on the subject at FaithandLeadership.com that says "A challenging child in church forces everyone -- parents and other parishioners -- to confront whether we value compliance over compassion." She had a son with attention disorders, but her parish saw him as an opportunity to spread Christ's love.
FOCUS ACTIVITY: Catholic Mass Seek and Find cards
Because I am crafty, I made a set of Catholic Mass Seek and Find cards, very similar to Arma Dei's Reverence & Awe Cards that I didn't know existed until today on my Catholic bookstore shopping spree. My cards include the parts of the Mass, objects within the church, and for kids who can read – finding phrases during Mass. This centers the focus of their attention on what's going on at Mass, not other activities.
While I originally wanted to have a set for a Giveaway, I decided to publish them here for FREE. Simply print on card stock or business card paper. Have your kids sift through the cards to find the items or parts of Mass as pictured.
To print this set, click here…
MORE OF MY QUIET IN THE PEW PRINTABLES HERE
Sometimes the little ones need something to hold onto. I lean towards plush objects for my toddlers. Nothing that will make a noise or zoom from one end of the pew into another parishioner's purse.
We bought the soft My Mass Kit by Wee Believers when it first came out, paying top dollar. So I'm not inclined to bring it outside of our home and be potentially lost or dirtied. But it is a wonderful idea to consider!
Soon Wee Believers will have their My Quiet Church which is on my wish list! They also have plush dolls with books, a nun and a priest. Go to their FAITH FORT for games, activities and printables!
The Let's Go to Church playset and sacramental accessories are available at a few online stores including St. Patrick's Guild.
Wooden Saint Dolls found at St. Annes Pixies as well as St. Luke's Brush are reminders of those Saints who lived their lives yearning for more time with God. Some of us have ventured to make our own. Though against wooden pews, these could be a loud toy.
CATHOLIC MAGAZINES & Books
I have a few versions of books for my children to follow along with the Mass, and multiple other Catholic Readers of sorts. Only problem is only 1 of 4 can read, so I need ideas for my little ones - the ones who can't read or sit still for more than 10 minutes! Books I carry in my bag are full of pictures, and many have a handle. They like that.
Our Little Catholic Corner shows how to make your own soft book.
We have used MagnifiKid's missal, and it was nice but they are specific to that year, so we cannot reuse them. They do not have as many activities as the St. Mary's Messenger magazine as I've seen on their website.
St. Mary's Messenger Magazine for ages 7-12
Magnificat's - MagnifiKid Sunday Missal for ages 7-12
LAPBOOKS or FAITH FOLDERS
Many mom's have expressed that Lap-Books are excellent for any quiet time. It is easy to find ideas online to create them. These are great for the car ride to church, or instead of Sunday cartoons while you get yourself ready to go.
FREE PRINTABLE MASS WORKSHEETS
Catholic Kids Bulletin by Is There Zucchini in This (blog)
Today's Gospel Activity Sheets by CatholicMom.com
Mass Worksheets for ages 7-14 by CatholicMom.com
Catholic Focused COLORING PAGES & Other Printables
Celebrating the Mass Lesson Plans by The Catholic Toolbox (1st Gr+)
Divine Mercy Jesus by TheDivineMercy.org
Great Saints Coloring Book by Relevant Radio
Saint Coloring Pages by Waltzing Matilda
Plenty of Enrichment Ideas at Catholic Icing
Many links also found at ReligiousResources.org
One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.STORES - Visit one near you, or shop online!
The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning Alex."
"Good morning pastor," replied the young man, still focused on the plaque.
"Pastor McGhee, what is this?" Alex asked.
"Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."
Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex's voice was barely audible when he asked, "Which service, the 8:30 or the 11:00?"
The Catholic Company
St. Patrick's Guild
Catholic Family Gifts
All these wonderful resources and yet, they'd rather ask if they get donuts afterwards. I teach them their religion well, but their focus is easily strayed. All this research has really given me a second chance to start over in this area of discipline. I hope you've found it helpful too!
Send me more ideas, links, articles…