“Shh, Be Still,” Ensign, Apr. 1991, 73
Keeping children quiet during sacrament meeting is a challenge many parents face. Here are some suggestions that may help.
Explain appropriate behavior. Tell your children in advance what you expect of them. Let them know what you consider to be proper behavior for children their age. Don’t threaten them with spankings.
Discipline children in the foyer. Taking a child out of the chapel can provide a teaching moment. Help the child understand that we should sit still and keep quiet even in the foyer. Some children make a fuss in the chapel because they know that if they are taken outside they can play or crawl around.
Be able to leave easily. If you expect it to be almost inevitable that children will have to be taken out of the chapel, try to sit toward the back and at the end of a row.
Take children out between meetings. Be sure that children have the opportunity to visit the rest room between meetings. Walk around with them, perhaps even outdoors, to help them get rid of their wiggles.
Avoid taking food into the chapel. For very small children, three hours may be too long to go without food. Taking small containers of dry cereal for a snack seems to be a good idea, but when a few dozen people bring cereal, spill a little, then do not clean it up, the chapel begins to smell like a cereal factory. Instead, bring a snack that children can eat outside or in some appropriate area of the meetinghouse.
Select toys carefully. Some children can be reverent without toys; others need something to keep them busy. A notebook and pencil or a picture book are good choices, and quiet books have been a boon to many parents. Be cautious about taking crayons to church. The pews do not need any extra color, and it is hard to clean up crushed crayons.
Do not take toys that bump, rattle, or roll. A ball can easily slip out of small fingers and roll from the back of the chapel to the front, distracting everyone in the room. Small cars or airplanes are likely to bring out the wrong response in children. They want to push them up and down the benches or zoom them in the air with the appropriate sound effects.
Do not forget that children most easily learn their behavior from observation. Remember to set a reverent example.—Candace Smith, Tempe, Arizona