Taking your toddler to church may seem somewhat akin to baptizing a cat. In truth, these two activities do share an alarming number of similarities, but one is more important than the other.
We all know that toddlers can be stubborn, wilful, and, honestly, very hard to handle. Taking your toddler to church is a special part of their week, so you need to push through.
It will get easier after some time; you must just be consistent with them. Here are five tips to help you do just that:
1. Sit at the Front
Most families with toddlers will each determine the best place for their family to sit. If you are a single mom, try sitting upfront in the first pew, if possible. Your toddler will likely be better-behaved at the front, where they are watched. Try to avoid going to the cry room. If your toddler sees another upset child, they might think there is something to cry about. Keep things low-key and happy; that will ensure they have an easier transition into weekly services.
2. Pack Snacks
Toddlers are easier to calm down when you have bribery snacks. There is no shame in offering your sweet little angel a tasty snack in exchange for their silence during the most important parts of the service. Snacks will help keep them occupied and give them something to focus on. Get them involved in the service activities, like letting them help you fill the tithe envelope or other church supplies.
3. Go to the Family Service
Most churches offer different services to accommodate all types of families. Choose to attend the family service or mass; these will be geared specifically for parents with young children. If possible, choose to attend the earliest service, that way your toddler can be back at home in time for their afternoon nap.
4. Practice At Home
Help your toddler ease into the weekly church routine by practicing at home. Set up an area of your home, complete with benches as pews. Let your toddler walk around your “home church” and get used to seeing things like bibles and choir books.
5. Be Enthusiastic
Toddlers are special young humans; and so easily excitable. You use this to your advantage when getting them to perform chores – why not extend those to church services too? If your sweet child sees that you’re excited to do something, they naturally will be too. Be careful not to oversell it though, toddlers might be young, but they’re smart and will catch onto your tricks quickly if you’re too flippant. You must set a positive example in a safe space – that is all your toddler needs.
Toddlers respond well to set routines and consistency. It might seem impossible at first, but be patient – it will get easier. You must stick with it. Children need church – your job as a parent is to establish and follow through with realistic, clear expectations. At the end of this, you’ll both look forward to your weekly church outings.