Children’s Behavior in Worship

Bill Hall

One of the greatest responsibilities parents face is that of teaching their children proper behavior in worship. Children's interest in spiritual matters depends so greatly on their parent's success. Teaching children that they are to be quiet is important, but good behavior in worship reaches far beyond this. Children must be taught reverence and respect for God. They must learn to stay awake, to sing, to listen, to participate. Their interest should grow as their capacity for learning grows. We offer the following suggestions:

Sit near the front. There are fewer distractions up front. If adults are distracted in the back (and they are bound to be), children may totally forget where they are. You might teach them to be quiet back there, but you will hardly be able to teach them to listen and participate. Make a rule very early in your children's lives that they never, never sit behind you.

Don't let your children routinely go to the restroom. The time for using the restrooms is before they leave home or just before the worship begins. Then they probably will not need to go during the worship period. Exceptions should be few and far between for normal children. The restroom parades that occur in most worship periods are unnecessary and distracting. Never let your children go to the water fountain. They can wait.

Don't let them play. Toddlers will need something for their entertainment, but when children reach four, five, or six years old, they are old enough to sit quietly without entertainment. You will be surprised at how soon they will learn the words of songs and what they might glean from a sermon.

If possible, see that they get proper rest the night before. Lack of sleep increases irritability and restlessness.

Set a good example before them. Children whose parents demonstrate little fervor, interest, and reverence in worship will likely demonstrate little of these qualities themselves.

Pray for God's help. The task is not easy, but great joy awaits those who are successful.