Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Children at Mass?
You know those looks; the outraged and discussed looks that parents receive when their child misbehaves in church. Yes, we’ve all seen it and unfortunately at times our children can misbehave as well at Mass. Children can run down the aisles, crawl under the pews, make so much noise that no one can hear what is going on, scream and cry as if they are being tortured, and even throw Cheerios at each other and some unfortunate parishioners nearby. The congregation consequently thinks that the child is extremely disruptive and with all their terrible behavior that they must be possessed. Meanwhile, the parents try to console their child and get them to stop, but to no avail. They therefore have to make a mad dash to the Cry Room with their child before some parishioner has a major conniption fit and lashes out at the priest after Mass.
Children at Mass is an extremely touchy subject among parishioners today. Some say if the child can behave appropriately and stay quiet, by all means let them come to Mass. But . . . (yes that dreaded word that parents loathe to hear) if they cannot control themselves in a respectful way and allow everyone to hear the Mass, please take your child to the Cry Room. Period.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me” and children need to be in Mass so they can learn about our faith and be part of the congregation so how can this be done without causing problems?
1. Prepare your child in advance. Teach your child about how they are to behave in church and why.
Say to your child: “How should you behave at church? What should you not do in church? Can you run in church? Why should we not run in church?” (It does not show respect to God and it is not good manners.) “God doesn't come to your house and run around. You shouldn't run around in his.” Discuss. “If you ran in church, what would other people do? Discuss other bad behaviors and manners that kids do in church. How would someone in church react if they saw you do something bad? Discuss. How would your parents feel? Discuss. Why are good manners important at church?” (Because you should respect God's house.) Etc. Discuss.
And/Or you can do:
Social Stories for Church- Social stories are an effective method of providing both guidance and direction to promote self-awareness, self calming, and self-management in responding to social situations. The technique involves creating a short story that describes the situation and includes appropriate actions and expressions. By creating a short story, the situation is described in terms of relevant social cues, anticipated actions and information on what is occurring and why. The stories are written according to specific guidelines based on Gray’s extensive use of this technique. The story is also customized for the individual and their circumstance.
2. Do this lesson with your child: Church & Respect
3. Bring quiet activities for your child to do during Mass (books, coloring, etc.) if needed. Give praise to your child for good behavior.
4. Sit in the back so you can easily get to the Cry Room if your child (or the parent) needs a break.
5. Expect good days and bad days. No one is perfect and remember to take one day at a time.