“I don’t want to go to church, it’s boring!”

Last week, after a mom read our post on making Sunday a Fun Day, she had another question, “How do you get your kids to want to go to church?” Has YOUR child ever said, “I don’t want to go to church, it’s boring?”

Don't-want-to-go-to-church

Guess what, your child is probably right; church can be boring for them. Think about it. They are sitting on a bench that is so tall their feet can’t touch the ground. The pew in front of them is so high they can’t see out of their row, all they can hear is talking, talking, talking, most of which they don’t understand. Sound fun? Not to me.

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints asked this question. We are members of this church so the answers we write are geared toward our religion. But we suspect this issue is not specific to any one denomination. With that said, we know that many of these thoughts and ideas could be tailored to fit anyone’s needs

Becky Bailey author of Easy to Love Hard to Discipline writes that parents should stop trying to control their children’s feelings.  Children have the right to all their feelings. I agree with this idea but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when our children express feelings we don’t like, or don’t understand. So if your child says they feel like church is boring, what should you say?

You might be tempted to say something like, “church is not boring” or, “Too bad, you’re going anyway”.  Instead try to understand why they feel the way they do and ask something like, “What part of church feels boring to you?” or “What could we do to help church not feel so boring to you?” Or, “I know it’s not as fun as other things, but it’s important for us to go because it helps us learn more about Jesus and show Him that we love Him.

So, what’s to be done? Here are a few ideas that might help your child enjoy church more:

Cookie Sunday- Our family did this when our children were young. During   Sacrament meeting kids had a pad of paper and they wrote a few key words (or drew a picture depending on their age) to help them remember stories or ideas they hear from the speakers. For every idea they wrote, they got a cookie when they got home (these ideas need to be about something the speaker said, not like my kids would sometimes try to get away with like, “he had on a red tie”)

Make a Sunday Book – Our Sunday book was a 3-ring notebook containing pictures of Jesus through out his life (I used pictures from the New Testament section of the Gospel Art Kit). I slid them into plastic pocket protector sheets.  You can also add blank paper for drawing and a pencil bag with a few colored pencils. Also, scripture based quiet books are a great idea, homemade or purchased, or non-sewn types.

Friend magazine– If you never seem to get around to using it at home, take it to      sacrament meeting.  Let your kids look through it and do the activities on the Funstuff page or other activities that look interesting (I did draw the line at using scissors at church, we took Scotch tape to church but not scissors). They can dog ear the corner of the pages of things that can’t be done during Sacrament meeting that they want to do when they get home, or stories they want read to them later.

Lead the music – Tell your children to watch the music director as she leads the     songs (also page 384 of the LSD hymnbook shows how to lead music).   Show them     how to draw shapes in the air: square (for 4/4 time), triangle (for ¾ time), and a smile shape (for 2/4 or 6/8 time).  Show them where the time signature is on the music and when each hymn is sung have them watch the music leader or the hymnbook and follow them with small hand movements that can only be seen by those sitting on your row.

Narrate the sacrament (or communion)- If your child is a toddler or young pre-  schooler, when the sacrament starts stand them stand up on the bench close to you (this shows them there is a lot going on outside your pew). Whisper quietly to them what is happening during the sacrament. Explain every step, in detail. It’s okay to use some words you know your child does not know yet. Your comments should include gospel teachings, not just who is walking where.

Example:“It’s time for the sacrament, watch, the Priests are going to take the white cloth off the sacrament table and we’ll be able to see the trays of bread and the cups of water. See them?”

 

“Now it’s time for the blessing on the bread, one boy who holds the priesthood is going to pray and bless the bread, let’s close our eyes and bow are heads and listen”

“Now the deacons are going to stand up all at the same time and go get trays of bread, watch. Now they are going to take the bread to the bishop, the deacons give the bread to the bishop first, see, bishop is taking a piece of bread. The deacons can pass the sacrament because they hold the Aaronic Priesthood”

 

“Look, now they are coming to bring the bread to us. When they get here, we’ll take the tray and take just one piece of bread. The bread reminds us that Jesus body hung on the cross and died for us. He was resurrected and we can be resurrected too.”

You get the idea? There is a certain age where this is really affective and they will listen as long as you talk and point things out.

As with many things, this can seem a little overwhelming, but remember that even one or two small changes can make a big difference. Good luck!

What do you do that works well?  Do you have any successes to share?

Sunday fun day!

Last week we wrote that next weeks post would be ideas on how to teach self-regulation, however we had a comment from a parent and that takes priority (we do love your comments and questions). So next week we’ll post about the how-tos of teaching self-regulation.  But for today: 

Make Sunday a Fun day

 This last Sunday at church I was talking to a friend who has a 4 year old.  In an effort to make Sunday a little more reverent, they have decided to cut back on TV for that one day each week.  She told me that is has been rough!  When I mentioned it to my mom she remembered what we used to do at our house on Sunday.  We thought that this would be something useful to share.

 Sunday-Funday

For kids sometime Sunday does not feel like a fun day. It feels like a day filled with more don’ts than do’s and therefore it feels restrictive. Especially if we, as parents, try to establish some better habits, which result in taking away some things they use to do that they loved.  One idea is rather than only take away activities they use to do, replace old activities with new ones. Make Sunday a day of fun activities, not just restrictions.  Keeping the Sabbath Day holy does not have to mean sitting in the house all day being still and quiet (remember the Primary song: Reverence is more than just quietly sitting…?).  We can still be reverent by enjoying nature, visiting loved ones, and doing service.

One thing our family did when we had a house full of young children was to have a Sunday bucket We used a bucket because we had one on hand, however any container will do: box, bag, bucket, tub, or drawer.

What is a Sunday bucket?  A Sunday bucket is a container that can be decorated on the outside and the inside is filled with toys, stories or activities that are not part of your child’s everyday world.  Let them know that the lid can only come off on Sunday and that the activities are exclusively for that day. In order to keep the container exciting, engaging, and effective, consider trading out/adding a new activity every week.  If you have children who will be tempted to peek or sneak an activity before Sunday you could simply add the new activity Saturday after they go to bed.

Here are a few fun, easy, inexpensive things a Sunday box might contain:

  • Puppets and a sheet to drape over the back of some chairs for the stage
  • Play dough recipe and ingredients
  • Picnic items to eat lunch out side
  • A map for a family walk around the neighborhood
  • A few boxes of different colored Jell-O and cookie cutters to make “Jell-O Jigglers”
  • Materials to make ‘forts’ such as clothes pins and sheets (when making a fort utilize the couch or kitchen table or chairs)
  • Art supplies to make cards, thank you notes, or I love you notes to friends or relatives. This would include a drive to the post office where you child gets roll down the window and put the letter in the mailbox.
  • Ingredients to make treats to do “ring and run” to neighbors.

Don’t stress, the Sunday Box item don’t have to be expensive or elaborate.

Below are some other ideas for Sunday activities. Some may need to be tweaked to make them feel more Sunday-like. But use them as a spring board and make them fit your family.

Creating Fancy Foods

Fun With Games

Arts and Crafts

Magic Tricks

Creating Pictures and Things

Riddles

Bird Watching Close to Home  Recently I was watching my grandsons and sat on a blanket on the grass in the back yard and listened to hear how many different types of bird songs we could hear. I was surprised how may different ones there were!

If you’re interested in more ideas follow this link  and scroll all the way down to Family Activities.

Good luck with your Sunday box!  Let us know what you try or share with us if there is something you already do that works well.

Self Regulation and the Brain

Self-regulation

I raised seven children THEN I learned about self-regulation – something I wish I’d know years earlier. So if you’re a mom with young children, I’m writing about self-regulation for you, so you can know this good parenting information before you are grandmother age, like me.

Children are born with a marvelous brain, with many parts. The brain stem is highly developed at birth and controls the instinctive functions the body needs to stay alive, such as; breathing, heart beat, recognizing hunger, danger etc. It is sometimes referred to as the “flight or fight” part of the brain because when a body encounters a stimulus or situation that is uncomfortable or threatening this part of the brain tells the body to protect itself: run away, or fight to survive.

Another part of the brain you need to know about to understand self-regulation is the cortex. This part of the brain is not fully developed at birth In fact, by 4 years old it has just begun to mature. It is the part of the brain that deals with more complex processes like perception, planning, attention, voluntary movements and emotion regulation. This part of the brain is easily shaped by experiences.

Okay, by now you’re probably thinking, “What is self-regulation and what does it have to do with the brain?”

Self- regulation is a child’s ability to calm or soothe him or herself. Put simply this is their ability to control their emotions and how those emotions are displayed outwardly.  It is linked to why they have tantrums.  It contributes to the ability to stop one thing they are doing, that they want to keep doing, and do something else that they don’t want to do. It’s the ability to think about what’s happening and make a rational choice as to how to respond.  This is the type of thinking that happens in the brain’s Cortex.

Children are not born knowing how to self-regulate (much to a parents dismay). They learn self-regulation by watching the actions of their parents, or caregivers. At a very young age – in a healthy relationship – a baby learns that when they cry someone will come to help them feel physically or emotionally comfortable by offering food, love or what ever they need.  For the baby, these are actions that only require the use of the brain stem. As children grow from infancy to toddlers and preschoolers they begin to encounter feelings they don’t know how to manage: how to take turns, how to share, how to not resort to hitting or biting to get what they want. When their basic needs are not met they know how to instinctively lash out (remember the brain stem is still working to tell them to “fight or flee” or to do what it takes to make them comfortable) but this is the time they need to start using the cortex area of their brain to regulate their emotions and control their social behavior.  When an adult models appropriate behavior, gives a child words to label their feelings, or dialogs to use with peers, the child stores this information as an inner resource to draw on next time they are in the same situation. By consistently providing these tools and examples a child is able to move from co-regulation to self-regulation.

So, in theory this all sounds pretty good, right?  But often the link between knowing and doing is the challenge.  But we’ll be back next week with some idea on how to teach your child self-regulation, such as using some everyday activities and “Time In” rather than “Time Out”.

Want to learn more about self-regulation? This is an article I found that I like (be patient, it might take a several seconds to load). It’s written for teachers and day care providers but I think the in formation is just as beneficial for parents.

Speak more kindly

Hello readers!  I hope you are doing well!  We would love to know what’s on your mind.  Drop us a line and let us know the areas where you have been doing really well.  Let us know if you have any struggles or questions you’d like another view on.  We would love to hear from you.  Today I want to share a few thought on the way we speak to our students and/or children.  Here a few things to think about and try.

How to speak more kindly to your child

speak-kindly

~ Think before you speak.  We all think unkind things but we don’t have to say EVERY thing we think.  Colleagues have told me that I always seem to know just what to say.  I believe a part of that is my natural disposition, but the greater factor is that I really think about what I am going to say.  There are times when my mind is thinking “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME CHILD!  IN WHAT UNIVERSE WOULD THAT BE ACCEPTABLE!  YOU ARE ACTING LIKE AN IDIOT”.  But instead of letting these words out, I think for a second and say something like “That’s not a very kind choice! What do you think would be a better way for us to handle this?” It is natural to think unkind things when you are frustrated.  Just remember that just because you think something, that does not mean you need to say it.

~ “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Mother and writer Peggy O’Mara shared those words and she is spot on!  Think about how you want your students and children to talk to themselves.  Use the kinds of words and the tone of voice you’d like them to hear and use.

~ Explain things to them, including how you are feeling.  Let them know when you are frustrated.  Instead of yelling, losing your temper, or lashing out when you are unhappy, tell them.  Let them know when you need a tiny break and have then silently count to 20 for you.  It is healthy for kids to see that grown ups get frustrated and upset.  As a bonus, when they see you taking a break it goes into their mental queue and they are more likely to do the same when they have similar feelings.