If you’re religious and at least try to go to church on a somewhat regular basis, but get frustrated by your toddler, you’re not alone. Trying to distract a toddler during a meeting at church, or anywhere else that people are supposed to be quiet, is no easy task.
Obviously toddlers don’t understand the value of church yet. But they’re also fast, strong, and they do whatever the heck they want without any regard for consequences or social norms. They never sit still or keep their voices down. And good luck trying to keep them corralled in the pew. They are prone to wandering and easily distracted. And you sometimes wonder why the heck you even try to bring a toddler to church at all. But if church is something that is important to you, you can use their distractibility to your advantage. There are some things you can do when you are absolutely desperate to distract a toddler from what they would rather be doing (like bolting up the aisle during the service) so you can keep them calm long enough to not disturb everyone around you, and so you can actually enjoy the meeting.
Here are 7 ways you can distract a toddler so you can actually enjoy church:
- Coloring. Whether it’s an app on your phone or a pencil and paper in your purse, toddlers love to scribble. Bonus points if you can trace their hand. They love that. If they can hold still long enough.
- Lotion. I discovered this one from a lady at church who did this when my oldest son was a toddler. Just a dab on the back of the hand can help distract a toddler long enough to catch a few lines of the sermon while he tries for a while to rub it in.
- Eensy Weensy Spider. Or is it “Itsy Bitsy”? Whatever it is, this and other songs with actions are great to keep a toddler occupied on your lap for a bit. Just “sing” (whisper) them really softly.
- Stickers. Kids are fascinated by stickers. Some might freak out when they can’t get them off, but they usually like sticking them on their hand, on their nose, on your nose, and on everything else in sight.
- Fruit Snacks. I know they’re bad for their teeth, but they sure are a great distraction when your toddler is yelling “wawa! wawa!” and trying to steal the water from the deacons during the sacrament.
- Toys. Don’t leave for church without a few of your toddler’s favorite toys. But don’t make the mistake of accidently bringing the ones that make noise. I know from personal experience that this always results in disaster.That would obviously be a disaster.
- Go for a walk. If all else fails, sometimes you just need to get out and walk around, looking at all the interesting things there are to see. Toddlers are still new in this world and ordinary things amaze them. Things like birds, trees, light switches and door handles. Go explore the hallways or the sidewalks outside. You may not get much out of church this way, but at least your little one isn’t disturbing the congregation, and maybe you’ll meet another mom in the hall that you can chat with. Hey! Adult interaction!
I’m not gonna lie, my kid is the most hyper kid in the congregation at our church. At least it feels that way when he’s crawling under the pews, hitting the kids sitting in front of us, and shoving handfuls of Teddy Grahams in his mouth as they spill all over the floor. But each of the above distractions have worked for varying amounts of time and allowed me to stay in the meeting at least for a little while before we eventually end up listening from the hallway.
Church with a toddler will always be hard. Thank goodness they won’t always be toddlers. In the meantime, you are still setting a great example for your kid who will grow up knowing how important church is to you.