Young children at mass

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  vinnyslady 9 years, 8 months ago.

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    For shame all the priests who ask the children to leave 👿
    Yes, Jesus said “let the little children come to me” and “unless you become like one of these”.
    Hold your little ones; help them to learn to participate; bring a ziploc of cheerios, a water bottle; a “church bag” with a small book, paper, crayon, and soft toy.
    Sit up close to the front, maybe somewhere in the first 4 rows. If necessary, walk a noisy one to the back and hold and love them til they calm down, then come back up front. Do not leave. Stick with it. They will come to understand that Mass is important and beautiful.

    Ignore the dirty looks – crabapples and grumps.

    Confront your priest, or write a complaint letter to the bishop – they are our shepherds and servants, not our slavemasters.

    mom of 21yo, 20yo, 17yo and 3yo



    We don’t like to use the cry rooms because we feel they allow children to think church is a place where kids can play with toys and is just another playground. We have three boys – 4 (soon to be 5), 2 and 10 months.

    We usually warn the 4 year old before going into church – no playing , talking and laughing. We keep the 4 yr old and 2 year old seperated. The 4 year old is not allowed to bring toys to church. The 2 year old is only allowed his Pooh bear. Of course, when they see other kids playing, they ask us why they cannot do the same… but those are our rules. That is not say we don’t have bad days… we do but we just take the kids out to the entrance when they are really bad. It also helps that our church is a young church and invariably someone’s child is having a bad day… you don’t feel like the only parent with small kids! 🙂





    We have never allowed toys or snacks in church, either. One time, when our oldest was very little, a mom in the pew in back of us “shared” some of her sons toys. DD said, “Thank you,” set it down, and didn’t play with it (whe was following our rule! The Mom commented on this to her older (I mean 70-something) MIL who said, “They probably teach their child like I did. Church is church….no toys or food. It’s only an hour.” I felt badly that we were used for the MIL to criticize this poor lady (whose son WAS kinda a handful!)

    I’m not saying we’re right or wrong….I know everyone’s different. I’m just saying that those are OUR rules, too. 😀



    While our church does not have a cry baby room, we do have an entry way in the back where many families will keep their young chilren (and many people get stuck in during full masses). This is an area where you can peek in or stand just outside the church doors and watch mass and even pray and participate a little, and your children can run around a bit or be held by you. There is nowhere to sit, as I said, it’s an entry way.

    We are fortunate in that we got a wonderful new priest about three years ago. Our church was loosing members and funding and they actually did a two year survey and found we needed to cut out some Masses. We originally had 4 on Sunday Morning, two on Saturdays, and one Sunday eve. Well, the did away with one Saturday, and switched around the Sunday morning times to spread out the 3 masses they cut down to. A year later, we got this wonderful new priest. Now, three years later, our church is filling up to the brim and if you don’t get there early enough, you’ll never get a seat! This is a BIG church, too.

    Father is wonderful in that he is very encouraging of children and families. He keeps telling everyone that Mass is for children. If children make enough noise to be heard during Mass, he includes it as part of the celebration and makes you feel so wellcomed! More and more families are bringing their small children and there truely is never a silent moment.

    Yet, still, my husband feels very uncomfortable when we take our children and they are loud or disruptive (which is rare). He prefers to split up in order to divide and conquer, but I like going as a family.

    💡 Here are a few pointers I have learned… Others have mentioned activities or books. I used to have a special “Mass Bag”. It is a purse that isn’t big enough for everyday use for me (I combine purse & diaper bag), but it works great for Mass. It was big enough to keep a few baggies of snacks (pretzels, cheerios, non-sticky non-crumbly finger foods), a sippy cup (water only) if we have a toddler at the time, One disposble diaper for each kid in diapers (we use cloth at home), wipes in portable packette (never know who will need those!), one board book for each child under 4, plus an extra (just in case), and a few surprise quiet little toys that they haven’t seen or played with in a while (usually because I keep them in the purse). I keep it next to me and only use it if they get “crazy”.

    We normally expect all our children to behave and the older ones are expected to at least sit/stand/kneel, and pay attention. If you go often enough and keep correcting behavior with little whispers and reminders, they’ll get into the habit. We have a rating system we use, as well. When we get back to the van we tell them how good they were on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best. We rarely hand out 10’s, just because it’s hard to be perfect. However, our oldest has gotten better at getting 9s and even our “problem child” who has ants in her pants and can get out of control has started getting consistant 8’s and a few 9’s. Our 4-year-old has the benefit of observing the older children. She usually takes their cues, so she gets pretty good ratings, as well.

    One thing that really works is seperating children between parents, especially the younger ones.

    We sit in the near back of the church, as more families appear to be here and it’s and easy “escape”. Our two daughters are always going to the bathroom, so we are closer to the toilet. DH easily gets frustrated with behavior, so he’ll take a child to the entry way, and even at times, to the van to wait out mass.

    In the Hymnals, I find the place for each song, whether a child can read, or not, and hand them the book turned to the proper spot. They feel like they are more part of the mass and try to follow along. They listen to the song and try to remember it if they’ve heard it before. If I’m not dealing with a younger child, I usually point out the word we are on to a preschooler or beginning reader.

    We don’t bring baby carrier/car seats into the church, instead, I sling my babies. This way I can breastfeed, they can sleep, or just cuddle the whole time and it doesn’t seem like a strange place to them, as they are so used to the sling anywhere else, anyhow. I sling toddlers, too, but let them get down a little or hang out with dad. Preschoolers tend to hand out with dad (as by then I have an infant or toddler, again).

    Anyhow, hope that helps. Long winded, babbling, yet again! 😉



    Oh this has been SUCH a huge issue for us! My older daughter has ADHD and can barely sit still long enough to eat breakfast, much less mass. We try to keep her involved but it’s difficult.

    Now that our younger daughter is a toddler it’s even harder yet. She just wants to run around. It gets tiresome in our church which is overcrowded on the best of days. Literally, it’s a matter of getting there 20 minutes early if you intend to sit.

    There is NO room between people and my kids get really out of sorts being stuck this close to people.

    Thankfully, the new church should be completed this September (I can’t wait) so my kids will have more room and there will be a family mass.

    The priests are GREAT about kids being in church (an they have handouts for the kids with church related puzzles and stories that relate to the homily for that mass) and the one was delighted that I had my toddler with me when I went to confession.

    In my church, the priests will tell you that all the kids are welcome and they love to see all the kids in mass, why can’t the older crabby folks take the hint? Sheesh.



    Since I started a marble jar at home (the kids get a marble every time they are caught being good, listening, behaving, sharing, speaking nicely, etc.) their behavior overall has improved. I guess it’s sort of like bribing them 🙂

    My 3 almost 4yr old has improved alot just with age. And I do find she is better when it’s just her and not her little brother around (who is 2). I bought Larisa a little mini-New Testament book. Just her size, so she flips through that and pretends to follow along. It makes her feel like a “big girl” 🙂 I also bring along two Bible board books that I have so that her brother can also feel like a big boy.

    I know alot of parents frown upon bringing anything to Mass, but I also pack quiet snacks (goldfish, cheerios, fruit snacks) and their water bottles. For one thing, when they’re snacking, they’re quiet and not fighting. For another, it stops the perpetual “I’m thirsty, I wanna drink, etc etc.” which is all an excuse to get out and walk around. I also bring a few crayons and little notebooks that they color on. Again, I know some people feel that isn’t teaching them to pay attention in Mass, but for me it works, because I have found that while they are engaged in these activities, they are quiet and actually listening to the Mass!!!

    They know there are a few times when they must do as I do. In the opening of the Mass, they stand with me, and they kneel with me during the consecration of the Eucharist. I take them up to get blessed at Eucharist time. And since DD can say the Our Father, she will stand and recite it with me. She gets a kick out of it, she is very proud of herself for being able to say it with everyone. And of course, her brother wants to do everything she does LOL.

    As for singing, asking questions…let them! It’s wonderful they are involving themselves in Mass. Phooey on anyone who doesn’t see that 🙂

    Good Luck!!!!



    OUR rules don’t allow toys or food in church either. I can take all 4 of mine(all under 5) to Mass by myself with no problems. We’re very old school discipline.
    It is only an hour. I have 2 boys and 2 girls. The boys are typical, young boys(the kind that are rambunctious and try to give you a heart attack every other second. ) My boys know that sitting down, being quiet and paying attention in Mass is not open for discussion. Its a requirement and if they don’t behave then I’ll take away their rights.
    In other words, if they don’t behave in Mass the answer to everything they want to do for the rest of the day is going to be no.
    Its a “if your behavior is pleasing to me, you MIGHT get what you want later” kind of agreement.
    If they’ve misbehaved in Mass and they ask to do something later, my response is, ” Did you behave in Mass.” When they say, “no, ” I respond, ” There is your answer.” When they’ve been good in Mass and ask to do something later, I ask them if they were good in Mass. When they say “yes” I usually respond, “there is your answer.” This lets them know that their privileges are intrinsically tied to their behavior in Mass.
    I have had every success with this method and can instantly reform the behavior of any child of mine(over the age of 2y0mo.) with nothing more than a look.

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