Just keep trying…I’m not saying this to only you. It is on repeat in my mind almost constantly. Just keep trying…just keep trying…
For several years we have made the choice to have our children, of all ages, be with us during the worship service. I am often asked how I teach my children to behave so well during this time. When I am asked it always gives me a moment of pause and I hesitate to share my wisdom. I’m not sure it is what other parents want to hear.
Let us not get ahead of ourselves here. Join me for a moment. Sunday morning we arrive at church and find our seats. We take up a whole row with a few on the row in front of us. During the service I will glance down the row to gaze upon my well-behaved children. Oh, wait. The five year old is making a paper telescope out of a sermon notes sheet and using it to keep a close eye on the pastor. The seven year old has no paper and is trying to barter a piece from a sibling. The nine year old decided to bring her box of coloring pencils and share with the two year old. Yes. Coloring pencils that will likely at some point hit the floor. And naturally the child who was absolutely positive that they did not need to use the restroom had to go right now in the middle of the sermon. Just for kicks…let’s toss in a baby who has discovered his voice and the high pitch he can reach with it.
Perfectly well-behaved children? Nope. But they are children. And the paper telescope? The five year old knew to keep it low and not to wave in the air and disturb those around her. The bartering seven-year old? He settled in and listened to the sermon even without paper. The coloring pencils? My daughter realized that it wasn’t the best idea to have that many options out during the worship service. No one around us was disrupted. They were all quiet and relatively still. (And as an adult that can’t sit still, I don’t require perfection in my children here. They just have to learn how to focus that energy.)
This post is not about whether you should have your children in worship or not. That is a personal decision. You can clearly see what our decision has been. The point of this post is about how I get my children to behave during a worship service. Or at a restaurant. Or to use the bathroom. Or to learn to read.Or to conquer long division. Insert a wide range of possibilities here. Now for the key to success: Just Keep Trying.
Life changing? Nope. But really that is what we have done. We just keep trying. One of my children screamed the first year of life. Not a pained scream. Not a fearful scream. Just screamed because she liked screaming apparently. Guess what? At nine, when she goes outside to play guess what she does? Screams. She no longer screams in the middle of the worship service or when I’m reading aloud. She knows the appropriate time and place. Why? Because we kept trying.
Sometimes you don’t have to try, teach, guide, direct for long. Other times you wonder if your child will ever “get it”. They will. It may feel like an uphill battle. Just keep trying. It may seem like no progress is being made. Just keep trying. You may take your child out of the service every. single. Sunday. for a year but just keep trying. Show your child what is important for your family. Find ways to help them. Correct when needed. Praise when they make progress. Remind yourself of the end goal. I am blessed each Sunday to see my older children singing, participating, enjoying the worship service. I am so thankful that we just kept trying.