4 year old playing up badly in public places including church.

(9 Posts)
madeit Sun 22-Sep-13 21:23:03

Today at church my 4 year old starting to pull up and down the kneeler. It made a racket. I told him to stop it or else I would be removing a special toy when we got home. (I had tried less extreme soothing prior to this). He starting yelling. Later he tried to pull a boy's hood who was praying in front of us. Kicked me in the shins when we were going to communion. Kept asking loudly when we were going ...... He does this sort of thing more frequently when we are in public places especially when it is a quiet contained sort of setting or when I am put on the spot by his behaviour.
At home I would say his behaviour is fairly normal for a 4 year old. He is loving, loves praise and eventually, usually does what I ask him. I am a lone parent. I want to go to church to pray. I want to be relaxed to some extent in public places. I generally make clear what I expect of him before church etc, but it's not working. I felt at my wits end in the church.

heather1 Sun 22-Sep-13 21:30:19

Hi I feel your pain, mine are 6 and 8. We go to church every week and they can still be quite naughty. I take a selection of religious books with me for them to look at, and rotate them occasionally. We talk about appropriate behaviour before we go into mass. There is a reward for good behaviour afterwards, usually a small chocolate bar. They don't get it if they haven't behave.
As they get older their behaviour is getting better but I spend most of Mass making sure they behave rather than praying iyswim. I think this still counts as spiritual behaviour! Can you ask another parishioner to look after your Ds after church is finished. Then you could spent some time in quiet uninterrupted prayer. I try to avoid taking mine out of Church as its what they want! But sometime for a quick verbal telling off and warning of consequences it's quite useful.

xfilefan Sun 22-Sep-13 21:33:23

I saw a lovely article somewhere about children playing up in church - about how awesome it is that parents take their children to church despite the likely naughtyness/embarassment etc - and how parents should not worry as people are not thinking how bad it is when children play up, but how good it is that the parent is bothering to bring the child. Children are the future of the church and all that. Here it is www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-bruesehoff/parents-kids-church_b_3909085.html

I think good on you for taking him. When I was a child I was definitely naughty in church - it is a long time to sit still- but Im so so glad my parents kept taking me. Does your church have a sunday school/side area/gallery or anything? My current one has a nice side area where mothers & babies can sit with abit more freedom for the children but still be in the service. Some children sit on the floor and colour while the parents join in everything, and the children get to join in the hymns which they seem to enjoy?

Bakingtins Sun 22-Sep-13 21:46:51

Can you look for a church that is more child friendly? Most services are very dull from a small person's point of view. Most four year olds can't sit still for an hour.
Our family service has all the young people in for the first 15 mins and keep it lively with flags, instruments, music and plenty of short segments, then they all go off to their groups and some of the congregation heave a sigh of relief There is a soundproof area to take babies out if they get restless where they pipe in the sermon, toys and books are provided and a reasonable amount of mucking about in the churchyard is permitted. There are several groups for children during the week.
Children are important - no less a part of the body of Christ than any adult, and if a church is not catering for their needs, has unrealistic expectations or a lot of the tutting brigade I'd question whether that can be your spiritual home for the foreseeable future.
Alternatively, is there no lovely Granny-type who would like to entertain him once a week so you can go to the service in peace, or babysit whilst you attend an evening service?
Our church has an all-age service once a month where all the kids stay in for the whole thing. We tend not to go in common with many parents of small children because although they do make an effort to keep it engaging and short it is just hard work trying to keep the kids (mine are 3 and 6) in check, and I don't feel I get anything out of it.

do you give him entertainment like colouring books and reading books and other quiet toys? also quiet snacks like grapes / raisins etc. 1 hour is a long time to just sit and it sounds like he is restless.

I think a 4 year old should be able to sit in. maybe you need to do the - you're a big boy not a baby in the baby room" talk?

sympathies it's hard!

...more thoughts

but also worthwhile. I think if church going is part of your life he should attend and behave appropriately so therefore needs to learn.

haverer Tue 24-Sep-13 17:55:31

It's a long time to sit still. Do you bring books/quiet toys for him to amuse himself with? The language and concepts of the average service would be largely beyond the average 4yo. Imagine sitting in silence listening to a foreign language for an hour. Now imagine you're 4yo. My 3 (6,5,3) spent most of mass playing cards on Sunday. Not very holy but they were fairly quiet. I also find the promise of a jelly tot on the way out if they behave nicely concentrates the mind.

ZenGardener Tue 24-Sep-13 18:04:10

I was reading an article that said for some children, it is not a case of being naughty but they are sometimes physically incapable of sitting still and being quiet.

So, reasoning with him and punishing is not going to work.

I agree with the others that you need to find other ways to manage his behavior and slowly build up his ability to sit through church as he grows older and develops.

plentyofsoap Wed 25-Sep-13 12:23:32

I only take ds when its a family service but there is a play room in the back where children can go if they get very distressed. However it is very relaxed in these services. I take some pens and activities with me too. He just asks very loudly where god is most of the time....

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