Monday, December 26, 2016

Seven Ways to Help Little Ones Behave at the Kingdom Hall

5-year-old from North Carolina, USA
Credit: @the4moores
I’ve got two boys: A one-year-old and a 2.5-year old. So if you’re a parent too, I know there is bound to be a time when you just want to give up. Behaving at the Kingdom Hall is a skill that all kids should have. Now, my kids have their good moments and bad moments—just like any other kids—but there are a few things that I’ve found that make a remarkable difference in their ability to sit still.

I find that when I do all seven of these things, their behavior improves, and when I don’t… well… let’s just say that the final prayer just can’t come fast enough!

Knowing to behave at the meetings isn’t a skill that just magically happens. It’s a skill that we must teach. Here are seven ways to help your little ones behave during our Christian meetings.

P.S. Do you sometimes struggle to get your children to behave? Looking for some tools that will help them pay attention? Then you’ll want to check out our meeting products for children. Click here



1. Set Clear Expectations

I think one of the main reasons why kids misbehave at the Kingdom Hall—and a lot of other places too—is because they don’t know how they are supposed to act or what you expect of them. Before you head to the meeting, take a few minutes to spell out your expectations clearly. I like to do this while we are driving.

For example, you could say “I expect you to stay in your seat, keep your hands to yourself, and be quiet so other people can listen.” I like to ask questions (“Do you run around? Do you talk? Do you crawl on the floor?”) and have my kids repeat the rules back to me as well. Just to make sure they were listening. Furthermore, they’ve seen the Caleb and Sophia videos about behaving at the meeting many many times.


2. Follow Through on Consequences

Heading to the meeting in Victoria, BC, Canada.
Credit: @charitycolin
In addition to setting the expectations, be sure also to explain the consequences ahead of time—and follow through! Then, if your children misbehave, you aren’t “punishing them.” Instead, you have given them a choice: behave or have consequences.

When your child misbehaves, he is choosing the consequence.

If you continually threaten your child, but then don’t take action, your child will call your bluff. Instead, set firm boundaries and show them that you are serious. Your kids will quickly learn that it’s best just to listen.


3. Explain What’s Going on in Terms They Can Understand

Another huge hurdle to your child’s behavior is the fact that small children probably have a very limited idea what is going on during the meeting. Even if they had the attention span to listen to an hour long talk (which they don’t), they almost always wouldn’t know what the brother was talking about anyways.

Help your child by explaining what is going on in terms that they can understand.

You can do this either before the meeting or during the meeting (if you can be quiet enough). This will make the information presented much more interesting for your child.


4. Help Them to Participate

When children have nothing to do, they find things to do, which usually involves acting up. Help your child to participate instead. Teach your child the songs so that he can sing along. Sway to the music with your child. Teach your child how to bow his head and close his eyes to pray. Ask your child questions that require him to watch and listen for an answer. Help them to prepare a simple comment.


5. Keep Them Busy

Kids' meeting notebook
Kids' meeting notebooks. Available here
One of our blog readers wrote in the following: “When our children were little (4-6 years), we would give them their own Watchtower magazine at the meeting with the names ‘Jehovah’ and ‘Jesus’ underlined once at the beginning of the article we were studying that day. They would then look for the rest of the occurrences of those names throughout the article and underline them. Since they always liked to have whatever publication we were studying and watched us write notes of comments we heard during the meetings, they felt they too were ‘participating.’”

I’ve seen other parents set the children up on their electronic device to play games. Although this is a sure-fire distraction, your kids won’t get anything out of the program. Some time ago at a regional convention, I happened to glance over at another family’s well-behaved children and realized they were all sitting there with some sort of worksheet and a pen, listening quite intently to all that was going on. Curiosity got the better of me, and after the program, I casually walked over to where they had been sitting to sneak a peek at what had been captivating their interest. The worksheets contained a list of hand-written “theocratic” words, and the children were putting tally marks next to each of the phrase as they heard them during the talk.
My Bible Lessons cover
Our toddler is 2.5 years old. He loves
looking at the “My Bible Lessons” that
we download from jw.org. (The colorful
cover is available here.)

What a great idea!

So, with the help of my talented sister Carrie (a single mom of three), we came up with the “My Meeting Treasures Ministry Meeting Workbook Companion.” If you’re a parent, consider getting these cute notebooks too! (See our Blog article: “Kids Notebooks – Help your Children Pay Attention at the Meetings.”)


6. Set a Positive Example

This tip should be so obvious, and yet, I think it’s one that many parents forget. If you want your kids to behave at the Christian Life and Ministry Meeting (or Watchtower study), you have to lead by example. In other words: stop talking yourself, stop playing on your phone, stop falling asleep, stop doodling and making to-do lists, and stop fidgeting with everything in your pockets.

After all, if you can’t sit still and pay attention, how can you expect your children to do the same? Get excited about the different parts and your children will too.


7. Don’t Get Downhearted

Sometimes you simply need to lower your expectations. That is something that Jade and I had to do. I am all about setting high expectations for my children, but there ultimately comes the point when you have to realize that they are just kids. They aren’t adults. They just aren’t going to sit as silent as statues for two hours every week. They just aren’t. Follow the above six steps to the best of your ability and try to keep your children as quiet as you can. But then cut yourself some slack. The other parents aren’t judging you (and if they are, that’s their problem, not yours).

Don’t ever feel like you aren’t welcome or that it would be easier just to stay at home. The meetings are incredibly important, and every time you bring your kids, you are teaching them valuable lessons that hopefully will stay with them for life.

Moreover, don’t beat yourself up if your children take up so much of your time that you simply cannot accept other privileges in Jehovah’s service. Some brothers have even decided to step aside from being an overseer in the congregation after having children. Here is a beautiful quote from the January 15th, 2017 study edition of The Watchtower: “Before accepting a new assignment, a modest person will first find out what will be required of him. He can then make an honest evaluation of his circumstances. For example, will he be able to take on more work or responsibility without neglecting other important things? Can some of his current work be delegated to make room for the new responsibility? If the answer to one or both of these questions is no, perhaps there is someone else who might be in a better position to care for the assignment right now. A prayerful and realistic analysis will help us to avoid overreaching our current abilities and limitations. Modesty may lead us to say no.” (from the first study article: “Why Modesty Still Matters,” paragraph 17. 

Do you have kids? What tips do you have for helping them to behave at the weekend and midweek meetings? Please leave your comment below!

32 comments:

  1. Great suggestions. I remember just wanting to give up when my children were younger. A sister came to the mothers room one night that was particularly hard for me and my child, she said not to give up. Children do behave if you keep them going to ALL the meetings and follow through with consequences. Moms and Dads, don't give up, your kids will get it and understand that we are all at the Kingdom Hall to learn. May Jehovah Bless!

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  2. Don't get up and walk your kids in the back of the hall or around the outside. They will get used to that and be fussy on purpose. My 4 yr old knows if we get up to take her to the back it's because she is in trouble, not play. Consistent discipline and they will understand, even from 1 yr old. I disn't expect her to be still at 1, but quiet she understood. Build from there as they grow.

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    1. Couldn't agree more, don't see how parents allowing their children to play and run around at meeting helps them learn to respect his house as a place for quiet and paying attention.

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    2. Well, you can't be dogmatic about it. For most kids, this advice is sound. However, for kids with ADHD, forcing them to stay in a seat isn't a help at all and can actually make the misbehavior last longer in the child's development. This is because the problem isn't a bad attitude, but a disability. Forcing a child with ADHD to sit at all costs is akin to making a child with a twisted ankle run 10 laps without limping. It just isn't going to happen and it will make the injury worse. What is better, is to set reasonable goals. Sit for 30 minutes before a walking break. Then a few months later, make it 40 minutes, then 50 and so on. This gradual approach is kinder and will help them learn to sit still much faster than forcing them to do something their brain is not capable of doing at this point in their life. And they won't grow up to associate meetings with getting scolded and feeling inadequate. Consistency and setting proper expectations are still extremely vital, but understanding the challenges ADHD families face will help us to be understanding if they decide to allow their children to have "standing breaks" during the meeting.

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    3. I have 3 children with autism and it is very hard to keep them quiet and still. Thankfully our congregation are understanding and are willing to help us throughout the meetings. That's the love amongst yourselves that Jesus has commanded and it's such a wonderful provision he had set.

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    4. Here is my advice. DO NOT JUDGE THE KIDS OR THE PARENTS OF KIDS WHO DON'T CONFORM!!!!!! THAT IS NOT LOVING BEHAVIOUR. TREAT ALL KIDS THE SAME REGARDLESS OF THEIR BEHAVIOUR - DO NOT FAVOUR ONLY THE ONES WHO BEHAVE AS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO, AS THIS WOULD BE DISHARTENING TO THE LITTLE ONES AS THEY WILL TAKE NOTICE OF FAVOURITISM. FROM SOMEONE WHO EXPERIENCED ALL THIS FROM THEIR CONGREGATION.

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    5. Typing in all caps is seen as yelling and there is no need for that. I'm sorry for your experience. We realize parenting is difficult and there is no one size fits all for every situation.

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    6. Yes, sometimes what is hard is the judgement, which shows impatience, lack of empathy and unrealistic expectations of others. When we get angry (not the parents, but others) it is a bad witness. I hope there is a back room for those with special circumstances, support from others who can speak with the ignorant, impatient ones,and holy spirit enough for all. Love covers over a multitude of sins.

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  3. A kind sister gave me one of the best gifts I still treasure: A Quiet Book. She had made one before for a close friends child. We were new in the hall and had an infant. It grew with him. It had him learning colors, numbers, letters. It had a pocket for pencils and crayons and all of he printouts from JW.org for all different stages of ages. He makes sure we take that to every meeting and he loves all the Caleb and Sophia stuff in it.
    When my cousin had trouble with her son not sitting still and being quiet I made her one after she saw how quiet and attentive our was at meeting.
    She almost cried when she was able to hear and take in her whole Regional just a few months later.

    Our son always asks us if he did good at the meeting and are we and Jehovah happy with him? This tells us we're doing something right.

    It does stay from day one. Consistency is key and I do agree not to allow them to go run around outside, in the restroom or in the 2nd hall. They immediately associate meeting with playtime if they act up.

    Stick with it and it will pay off.

    The Quiet Book can be catered to the sex of the child and their age. A lifesaver !!!

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    1. Wonderful idea. Would love to see pics of this book and get instructions on how to make

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    2. Yes! I would love to see pics too! My son has Ds and autism and something like this (maybe modified) could help.

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    3. I did something similar to this for my sister in laws children. It started as one assembly and for a while, they looked for it at each convention and assembly.

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    4. I wanted one for my lively boy but can't sew and they are soooo expensive :(

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  4. I completely agree with all of these. I created these meeting worksheets for my young one to help him pay attention. They are an adaptation of many worksheets I've found on Pinterest. If any parents would like them they're free to download. http://www.hellocountrysunshine.com/?p=167

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  5. Yes you have to instill love for Jehovah's house. At my KH I have treats like lollipops to give out for good behaviour, and ministry or meeting items like pens, tract holders etc for comments or doing a good deed. We all need commendation and encouragement. I find that this helps and our little ones are so happy that they are making Jehovah proud.

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  6. I put us in the front row at assemblies and showed her everybody behind us that would see her misbehave. I also had her sit on my lap for a while and hold the pen with me while i took notes. Then she would make her squiggly lines like she was taking notes too. It was nice for us.

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  7. My oldest is current being evaluated for mood disorders. Sitting an entire meeting isn't possible right now. I've tried to be realistic with her. I can't sit a entire meeting though I trying. I've also tried to balanced about discipline. My siblings used to get beat but I try to reason with her. I want her to know the Kingdom hall is a safe place so she won't resent it. We all grow up eventually. Patience and understanding is vital.

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  8. Going to the Kingdom Hall is a loving privilege that Jehovah has provided for his people. We all have different view points and back grounds. When it comes to rasing children we have help from the organization and publications. One thing I have found to work is, If you are able to try taking time out starting in 5 min intervals. Play the Kingdom melodies or read to the child and let them know that this is Jehovah's time. Then reinforce it At the meetings and on the field ministry. May Jehovah continue to bless the efforts of all his loving children that we are.

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  9. I find it really helps to practice quiet time at home. We do an activity that requires them to sit still and pay attention. It might be Caleb videos or another part of our family study, but it helps translate to the hall. May Jehovah bless all our efforts to reach their hearts!

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  10. ....by not inflicting the boredom and tripe on them in the first place. If you want to make a religious dicision for yourself, great do it, but do not make that same decision for a child. Most children are born into religion and have no choice on whether they want to be groomed, this is simply wrong. If you are so proud of your faith and believe that it is worth following; then you should allow your children to make their own decision of whether to also follow it, when they are old enough to learn and understand about all religion.
    Only then can you truely say they are following a path they have not been forced or groomed to do so.

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    1. This is exactly what can happen when they are first taught to listen. Only by truly listening and learning can they make an informed decision later on in life for themselves. I expected my sons to behave regardless of whether it was a religious meeting, at the movies, or in a restaurant. Parents expect their children to sit and listen and pay attention in school in order to reach their full potential and make decisions for themselves later in life. The Bible says to 'instruct them morning and night' so I applaud parents who take interest in all aspects of their children lives because it is their responsibility. Some parents force their children to play sports, some force their children to play musical instruments or ballet all in hopes of seeking fame in later life. They are groomed for these activities so....Christian parents should take every care to train up their kids in the way they should go so that when they are older and well informed and making their own decisions and choices, they will not turn aside from their teachings.

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    2. If the children are minors, they go where the parents go... whether at the grocery store, restaurant, church or Kingdom Hall. We do expect them to learn what we are teaching them. Boredom or nonsense or rubbish (tripe) is YOUR view of whatever activity you are being "forced" to attend... when the children are old enough to make their own decisions, they will. We as parents have the responsibility to raise our children as we see fit according to the bible.

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    3. De6-These words I am commanding you today must be on your heart De7-and you must inculcate them in your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. 2 Tim 3:15 and that from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 3John4-No greater joy do I have than this: that I should hear that my children go on walking in the truth.

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    4. Well said DK ��

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  11. Please help a sister here i have a son just turned 2 today and he is a handfull he understands we at the meetings and can only concentrate for 10 min tops how do i use these 7 helpfull steps when we cant communicate he knows be queit, sit down but for me to expkain whats going on ,it falls on deaf ears. And would like to know how the sister with a 1yr old and 2.5yr old is managing

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    1. Be patient. With one of my children, I had to keep her in the back room throughout the entire meeting from age 2 until after she turned 3. We did all the suggestions here, but she was incapable. Some kids are. We had to take her to the back room out of respect for the other brothers and sisters at the meeting. She was simply too disruptive. In the back room, we practiced sitting still, paying attention, listening, etc. She eventually got it, and now, at age 4, she sits in her seat through the entire meeting. Now the tips here are really working. We also practice sitting still and greeting the brothers and doing other "meeting" things during family worship. That helps, too. She also loves to comment, so anticipating the opportunity to comment adds to the motivation. (Yours is no doubt a little young for that now, but it will come in time!) Hang in there! I find that most of the brothers and sisters are really understanding about the little ones. And it pays off. I've seen new ones bring their kids starting at age 3, and they have a MUCH harder time than the kids who've been coming since birth.

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  12. All children are different some will sit quietly others not so much,but teach them to be respectful ,explain whats going on and do not be fooled when u see other so called perfect families,u dont know what goes on behind closed doors at their house,i found these kids put on a pedastool but later proved thet were fake the parents did everything to make themselves look good ,lied swept there kids mistakes under carpet all to say see we can do it,why cant you. Self righteous idiots. serve jehovah and be happy dont make a child feel not good enough cause hes not sitting like a perfect child at meeting.

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  13. i have three kids. my son 10 years old and daughter 9 years old they have intellectual delays, weak muscles, corridnation problems, speaking problems. he has seizures. and she has post tramatic stress and anxiety. my youngest son is six. i tell them that the kindom hall aint a play ground or mcdonalds so no running incase they bump into someone. i use the caleb videos a lot. praying together and asking jehovah to help them behave helps. i started recently taking notes on sundays and at assemblies. and they have started to copy that. but what i do for them is write jehovahs name and jesus, love, and they check mark it off as its being said. they get really happy and excited and check mark it every time these words are said. i'll even put different stuff each time and ask them to check them off. i dont keep the same words. they have their own tablets as well to follow along or to look at the my book of bible stories or any other kids books they have. their still fidgity but they sit more than they use to. and pay more attention as well.

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  14. I am on my own with three. It was especially hard when I had cancer and was new in the truth. My 8 and 9 year old sit perfectly now and my 5 year old is getting better. We don't sit in the back anymore! My 5 year old prays for help to be good at the kingdom hall. So hard for her to sit.

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  15. I am going to sound judgmental, but what I am seeing in many halls with younger parents is that they are lax in discipline their children like many parents in the world around us. I was raised as a JW, and I do not remember as many kids acting up at the hall like they do today, but our parents taught us how to act, not only at the meeting, but when out to eat, at the store, and when visiting friend's homes.
    A friend of mine who is now in her 50s remembers her mom having "meeting practice" at home where they had to sit at home and be quiet. If parents did practicing at home, turn off the TV, etc., and have kids doing something quiet on the couch, starting with just a few minutes and getting longer as time goes on, that could help.

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  16. You can make your own Dear Sister's 💞 It may not be sown but what I did was printed pages off of JW.ORG for children. Laminated them hole punched and put them into a binder as well as paper. They can use dry erase markers or dry erase crayons on them as it wipes rite off. And the paper to take notes and tally's. These are Great for Conventions, Assembly's Even Road Trips. Enjoy I hope this helps. It has helped with my daughter! Much love to you All

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  17. Also, remember those of us who aren't blessed with children and absolutely adore them. There are probably at least a few of us in your congregation. Yes, training your children is your responsibility, but it is a blessing to us when you share them with us. I love being able to have a little one with me during the meeting. Of course, you need to know the person will encourage appropriate behavior, instead of letting your little one simply play. Sometimes moms and dads just need a break. Even if the kiddo doesn't calm down with someone else, it gives mom or dad some time to regroup before again helping the child. One sister who came alone with twin babies gave me the huge gift of letting me have one for the meetings. Supposedly, I was helping her, but I was the one getting the most from the deal. Many of us absolutely love seeing and hearing the amazing precious children at the meetings, even when they act like children and not miniature adults. Just think of how Jehovah and the angels must feel when they see you and your children at the meetings. <3

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