How To Keep Your Kids Quiet at Church

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Find out the 5 secrets to keeping children quiet during your church service. Know what you can do to keep your kids still and quiet at church.

Family at church

Being at church with children can often be so difficult you wonder if it is even worth your time to be there. You might feel like your temper is so short you are ruining your religion rather than saving it.

You might also find yourself spending more time in the hall than in the service and wonder why you don’t just hang out at home instead.

It is hard! Every parent who has had a child at church has been there. It is hard, but it is worth it. I feel like this is a situation when the Lord magnifies your efforts.

There are some things you can do to keep your child quiet at church so you can spend more time in the service and listening.

As some background, I spent 14 years as a parent with church being 3 hours long (it is now 2 hours long). I did not have a place to send my children until they were 18 months old, so with four children, I spent three hours a week for 18 months with my kiddos with me–trying to keep them quiet.

We also had our sacrament meeting with the entire family together (and still do). This was a little over an hour.

I share that to let you know that I have had years of practice keeping kids quiet at church. It can be done! It won’t always be perfect, but you can get to where most weeks go quite well.

5 secrets to keep kids quiet at church

Practice Being Quiet At Home

You cannot expect your child to perform something at church that has never been taught at home.

This would be like you showing up at church and performing a piano solo without practicing at home.

That may seem like an extreme analogy, but your little one is a child who is new to the world. Learning to be quiet and still is a skill that requires practice.

Have General Obedience at Home

You need to recognize that if your child doesn’t typically listen to you at home, it will not happen at church. Children tend to test boundaries in public.

You want to ensure that you are working toward obedience at home so that obedience is just the typical expectation and not the exception.

Teach How to Whisper

We adults often think children should just know how to do things, but in reality, they need to be taught. A child is not born knowing how to whisper. You need to demonstrate and practice at home.

Talk about inside voices and outside voices. Practice, practice, practice.

Scriptures at Home

A great time and place to practice sitting still and being quiet is during scripture study at home.

If you do scripture study at home and/or some sort of church lesson, you can work with your kids on sitting still, whispering, and being reverent during that time.

You could even do it during other times. One example would be during reading time. You could have your child sit still and quietly when you read to them.

Children just need time to practice the skills you are asking them to display.

Reverent Practice

When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I attended a conference. While there, I listened to a mom of 8 or so children share how she kept her kids quiet at church while her husband led the meeting–in other words, she was alone with a lot of kids.

She said that if a child was noisy at church, then every day that week, that child practiced reverent time. She would set a timer and the child had to sit perfectly still for 2 minutes with no moving and no talking.

If the child made a noise or moved, then she reset the timer back at 2 minutes and started over. This continued until the child made it through the two minutes.

She said it didn’t take the kids long to realize they would rather be quiet at church than do reverent practice every day that week.

I have practiced this reverent time with every one of my kids at home. It really works!

Set Clear and Proper Expectations for Church

Your child will have much more success being quiet at church if you explain that you want them to be quiet at church.

Just like with whispering, our children are not born knowing the rules of church. We need to teach them. Kids don’t just know.

This works best if you do it in a time of non-conflict. This means you teach it to your child before she is being noisy. Ideally, you teach and explain at home.

>>>Read: Training in Times of Non-Conflict

Each week, as you are headed to church or before you leave the house, run through the rules.

“Okay kids, we are headed to church today. What are the rules at church?” Let them answer. “Great! Do we talk loudly or whisper at church?” They reply that you whisper. “Perfect! I knew you could remember. How do we sit at church? Can you show me?”

Run through it all.

This skill is called “Ask and Tell.” It works so well in any situation you want to set your child up for success!

As kids get older and more consistent with correct behavior at church, your ask and tell session can be shorter and more concise.

Have a Plan for When Your Kiddo is Loud

Notice this heading says “when” and not “if.”

It will happen. Even the best-behaved kiddo will have a day that you need to respond to him being too loud.

When your child (again, there is that “when”) does not follow your rules for church, you will want a plan for how to respond.

Part of teaching is having a consequence.

For us, if the child was being disruptive in the meeting, one of us took the child out in the hall.

The hall was not a fun place.

In the meeting, the child could eat, draw, and play quietly with toys. There were books to read. They had to sit quietly, but it was really a great place.

In the hall, the child was restricted to sitting on mom or dad’s lap. That was it. No coloring. No walking. No toys. No books.

Nothing.

Super boring.

That was all it took. Our kids knew that it was much better to be quiet and in the meeting than loud and in the hall. While there were restrictions in the meeting, there were FAR MORE restrictions in the hall.

Plus, the rest of the week would include reverent practice at home.

Have Distractions

Okay, you have practiced at home. You have outlined your expectations. You have some clear consequences for when expectations aren’t met.

Now you need to go a step further to set your child up for success.

You need some quiet things for your child to do.

Remembering Context

As a parent, it is important to always take the context of the situation into account and adjust for it.

We have never been a big snacking family. We have also been a big “eat on a schedule” family for little ones.

However, when it came to church, my little ones could have a snack-a-thon if they desired.

I wanted to make sure my kiddos were quiet. Church was always long enough that no matter what time it started, it would run over naps. That meant they were tired.

Tired and hungry kids are louder than well-rested and fed kids.

So snacks were a great way to ensure they were only tired, not tired AND hungry.

I always made sure my kids had:

  • Books (quiet books are great)
  • Food
  • Quiet Toys
  • Drawing type stuff

I had a bag that was packed just for church. Church toys only came out at church, never at home. Church books only came out at church, never at home.

This kept things interesting and held the interest of my children at church.

I have an entire post dedicated to the best toys for church. Read it here: The Best Toys to Keep Kids Quiet at Church

It is important to note that toys were not allowed for all ages. I can’t remember how old each child was as they were expected to sit quietly without toys or entertainment at all.

My 11-15 year olds do not have anything to entertain them other than the speaker. They can take notes on the topic if they choose.

My 8 year old can sit on the pew and quietly draw or read church material, but no more toys for her.

You choose the best age for your child to change things up.

Find a Good Seat

Find a good seat for your family. The very best seat will vary from family to family. Here are some things to consider.

Close To an Exit

For your convenience, sit somewhere with easy access to the exit. You want to be able to get out of there ASAP when needed.

Sit By Nice People

Some people without little kids no longer remember what it is like to have little kids.

Find somewhere to sit where you will feel comfortable being a parent to your children. You want to respond to them in the best way for them and not worry about getting judged by those around you.

I will always cherish the woman we sat in front of each week while my kids were little. She was the best and would always tell me I was doing a great job, even on the rough days.

Get Backup

Don’t be afraid to ask someone to sit by you and be backup if needed. This is especially true if you are the only parent sitting with the kids for any reason at church.

Sit in the Front…or the Back

This is where things can really vary for people. Some really like to sit at the front while others prefer the back. I am sure prefer the middle.

We like the front. I feel like the kids are closer to the speaker that way and will pay better attention to the person speaking when they are right there.

I also find that I am more on top of them being quiet when we are at the front, so I am more consistent with my expectations (I don’t get lazy). That helps the kids overall in the long run.

Go Well Rested and Fed

Kids listen better when they are well-rested and not hungry. Be mindful of what you do Saturday. Don’t expect your child to be an angel at church Sunday if he missed two naps and went to bed late Saturday.

I distinctly remember the year McKenna was a baby (2009). July 4 was on a Saturday that year.

Church on July 5 was a very loud experience with lots of crying children. Kid after kid was taken to the hall. Being up late for fireworks plus out in the heat all day Saturday had not led to happy children Sunday.

That doesn’t mean you can’t ever have fun on Saturday! But you do need to be mindful of the consequences that will happen and be ready to be extra patient. It isn’t the child’s fault she is exhausted.

Do the best you can to go to church well-rested and full. Bring snacks along and if your little one will sleep at church, go for it!

Conclusion

All of these things will help set your child and you up for a happy time at church.

It won’t be perfect. Know that there will be hard days! You will still have days you wonder if it is all worth it.

But you can get to where most Sundays are doable and enjoyable with your family.

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