Thoughts on Reverence

WARNING:  There will be some things written in the post that some of you do not agree with. Please keep in mind that these are my thoughts, and you are getting them for free. And they are worth every penny!

Reverence is important to me. You can probably tell, because I have written about it a couple of times already. (Here and here)  It is important to note that when I talk about reverence, it’s not just about Sacrament Meeting. It’s about flag ceremonies, the National Anthem, Mutual opening exercises, home teaching visits, choir and orchestra concerts, etc. Reverence is how we show respect for the things we consider important. That said, Sacrament Meeting and the temple are the two places that deserve our very best. Yet some people just don’t get it.

Our family is reverent at church. We always have been. Even as young parents we were often complimented on how well-behaved out kids were.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bragging. (Actually I am bragging) I am first to admit that one advantage we have is that my EC is a very calm, sweet woman, and it does rub off, sometimes. (We do have 4 boys still in the home.) But as I have watched over the years, I’ve been trying to decide what we have done as parents that seems to have worked out right. I have distilled a few ideas as to the good, the bad, and the ugly, as far as teaching reverence goes.

A while back I was asked by one of my readers if I had any tips on how to help kids learn to be reverent.  I do have some tips, but before I give them up, I want to talk about things that can get in the way of having a reverent family. Barriers to reverence, if you will. There are probably more, but I want to discuss three. They are:

1) Philosophy
2) Tradition
3) Expectation


The rest of this post has moved. Sorry!  It has proven to be my most popular post of all time, so it made it into my book.  To learn more, click here: “There’s a Message In There Somewhere.”

Thanks for your interest!


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  1. I literally cried today after a woman sitting in front of me and my 3 kids (5, 6, and 11) stood up and said “you need to learn to control your kids” it was a moment that crushed me. We always sit in the front because when we sat in the back where the ‘reserved for parents with small children’ pews are the kids were really bad due to all the distraction. I sat until the church was empty crying and then got up got in the van drove home and told my children to sit in chairs with feet in front of them hands in lap and quiet. before reading this I made the rule NO STUFF at church, well the church puts out little bags of stuff that the kids grab before the service. after reading this I have decided that they wont even grab those. it has become such a horrible struggle and while they are not horrible ( they have come a huge way from my son running from the back of church up to the stage and then around the pews, to staying in the pew the whole service) the problem is the constantly move around hitting the pew in front of them, and my youngest sometime tries to participate but is very loud. The oldest will talk the whole time while the middle child feels the need to stand and take up half a pew with what ever she has with her. I was so hurt by the woman today that I am determined to make a change. thank you for your article and I agree, we expect so little from our kids that they know they can get away with it and sometimes that causes them to expect less of themselves.

  2. Thank you for a great post! I hope to implement these principles with my young family! It is good to have it reaffirmed that I can expect more, even from a toddler.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this because I know it is true. When you hear the truth you know it through the spirit. I’m in my late 50’s and my father & mother taught us to be reverent and have respect in Heavenly Father’s house. We didn’t have toys or treats. Go this does run thru families in generations. I’m very thankful for what my parents taught us and we have shared with our family and their familie, on and on.
    Thanks for having this blog about this topic.

  4. I only have one short comment. I will say from the get-go that I belong in the philosophical camp that doesn’t believe in reverence. I do believe in respect, but not the reverence that seems expected from our kids in Church. I could explain, with some scriptures etc. why I feel that way. But that’s not my point.

    I think your suggestions are fair, and they will probably help most kids and parents who care about all this reverence stuff, to achieve their goal. I do think children are capable of a lot of things, and that if we want them to sit quietly in Church and listen, they can learn that even at a young age (nonetheless, my 4-year old draws pictures in Sacrament meeting, and then out of the blue comments on what the speaker has said, without me ever having made an effort to teach her to listen…hmmmmmm).

    Anyway, so I think your post wasn’t bad. But one reason why I hate posts on reverence, or some other stuff that pertains to Church is that it leads to a lot of judging. The natural result is often, as these things get discussed, that when we now see a parent whose kids are loud and rowdy in Church, that they don’t care, or haven’t learned to teach their kids, or who knows what. We tend to judge. And it’s unfortunate, because even if I did care about reverence, the reality of parenting is that we have limits. We have to choose our battles, and some will not choose the reverence battles. Some will. The situation that leads everyone to various choices will be different for everyone.

    Yet, we get all these reverence talks, and reverence posts, and the endless advice on how to achieve it, that leaves very little wiggle room for those who do not want to pursue this battle for whatever reason, to avoid the judgement.

    I’m not sure how this relates to anything specific here. I guess I just wanted to suggest that whatever everyone chooses for themselves, they should be careful to not judge those who make different choices.

  5. Ok, now you know I only read your blog sporadically, well this is only the second time in a couple of months. But, this is exactly my way of teaching children reverence – I had nine children, they were wonderful models of respect and reverence. There is more to it as you mentioned. They must gain a testimony during all that reverence and then live it. Some of my children are taking a vacation from the gospel, sad to say, but they still understand the reverence part and their testimony is still there – I see it and fully expect them to come home from vacation. I’m counting on it.

  6. I absolutely love this post. My husband and I are young newlyweds (ish) with two kids (4 1/2 and 1 1/2). When there was just one kid, we would get comments all the time to the same effect you did. “Wow! Your daughter is so reverent!” or “She is such a great listener and she always participates.” Yeah, we know. We’ve always held high expectations for our children. Not unreasonable, just higher than the average “toys and snacks” kids.

    The more I read of your blog, the more I feel at peace being so exactly obedient. I can’t believe how many members of the Church look down on your for being obedient! Apparently it’s not socially acceptable. Go figure.

  7. This is a great article! However, there’s a “but” for me. When I read you saying “not singing is equally as irreverent as talking during a meeting.” I was like “errr… I don’t sing”. Because I don’t know the lyrics in English. I am a member of the church for more time I want to let people know, so I can make my age an enigma to be solved LOL and I can sing every single hymn (primary, young women, etc.) without even look to the lyrics. In my language. I’m not capable of singing in English (yet). Probably you don’t think I’m irreverent (I hope you don’t LOL), I guess I just wish you had written there, that you realize maybe there are reasons for someone do (or do not do) something. My 7yo is reverent and she can even sing already (children are amazing!!). I have a 9mo that sometimes cries and fuss. And I just know that everyone understand she doesn’t even know how to say mommy yet, so… But she will learn, soon (<-- is that a threat? LOL). My best regards to you and yours.

  8. I believe you are being a little short sighted. Not all kids CAN sit still. My 3 ½ year old is ADHD. I try very hard to help him. We practice at home. I just wanted to point out that not all your stereotypes are true. I am very reverent at church. I sit very still, I usually sit alone in other meetings, and I don’t talk to people or play on my phone, etc. I sing all the songs, and I listen to the talks. I am a very good example to my son.

    I also believe reverence is very important, which is why I’ve really struggled with my son. We’ve even given him blessings and we pray for him often. It’s embarrassing when your children aren’t reverent. It’s even more embarrassing when you know there are people just like you in the congregation who are judging your parenting skills. Well not all problems are caused by bad parenting.

    I do have high expectations for my son. Some have even said maybe my expectations are too high because of his wiggle problem. We practice at home, and it does help, but he is still not ‘reverent’ according to your standards. We aren’t the kind of parents who don’t say no. We say no a lot and we follow through with consequences. So don’t be so judgmental! We don’t get up for drinks and potty breaks. We do those before church. But that doesn’t mean my son can sit still. Your kid can sit through a TV show. Mine? Well he can’t, even when he likes the show.

    We try our hardest to be the most reverent before and during the passing of the sacrament. With a child who has some problems you can’t always have an entire meeting of reverence. Sometimes you have to settle. After the sacrament is passed we get out bible books or the Friend magazine and 1 or 2 quiet toys. If we didn’t, we’d never sit through a sacrament again. I HAVE tried going without toys. Several times. Right now, that is just not possible for us. Sometimes we have to be satisfied with a child that lays on the floor and has a toy in his hand. Also, I disagree on backrubs. On the rare occasion that I can get my son to sit still on the bench, the only thing that keeps him there is a gentle backrub.

    I would like to point out that we are always early and we pick a good seat every week. We almost never sit in the back. I always sing and we are teaching our son to sing them hymns as well. My son rarely asks for anything during church. Usually he is being loud in other ways. I can’t just say ‘no’ and ignore the behavior. Otherwise the whole congregation would be glaring at me.

    So I’m curious, why do you blame parents in situations like this? I try so hard and it’s really frustrating to know that people in my own church are judging me because my son has ADHD. You really are being very short sighted. I could just cry thinking about all the people like you who are judging me. You really have no idea what we’ve been through or what my son has been through. Remember that before you go and judge other parents in your ward.

    1. Annalyn,
      I feel for ya sistah! My oldest is ADHD and for years I toddled him and his two younger brothers to church each week by myself. I often felt like people were irritated with me because with 3 young boys, it was literally impossible to be as reverent as the family next to me with their “perfect kids”. I found a few tricks though. Our wise pediatrician suggested a 5 minute break during Sacrament meeting. So halfway through, we would walk outside to the parking lot and get all the wiggles out as best we could. The change in scenery and the ability to be loud for a few moments did wonders. We always sat in the back near the doors so as not to cause a disruption when we exited and entered. I also employed the help of the teachers assigned to man the chapel doors. When I couldn’t get them quiet or engaged in something soft, I sent one to the teacher sitting at one end of the chapel at the doors and another kid to the other end. The young men thought it was awesome (since most of the time they were bored too) and with their excess of programs with which to draw pictures or simple games with the boys. Sometimes even a new face for a few minutes helps engage them. A few families in the ward would also be on the look out and summon a child on occasion to allow them some different scenery and activity to do. But you probably know that already – I’m singing to the choir.

      Were there Sunday’s that I felt like I just couldn’t do it? Absolutely, but in hindsight – engaging my ward family took away any feelings I had of being judged (which were completely not valid, just my own insecurities) and solidified us in a united cause. We all wanted to enjoy the meeting and most particularly the sacrament so I will be forever grateful for their assistance. I had to be proactive about it, I didn’t sit and wait for someone to offer, I started with the youth who jumped at the chance to “play with a little kid” and it extended to other families. My oldest is now 25. Active duty Marine, exemplary father/husband and active endowed Elder. He had a rough road to get there, but as we talk about his challenges all through life, he remembers quite vividly those young men at the doors and certain families who would ask them to sit with him and loved him.

      Okay, I realize I’ve carried on. But one last thing Annalyn. I am on the other end of the spectrum with raising my kids and feel like I learned so much from my journey that I wish I had known all along. The most important being that I was simply too hard on myself. I set my expectations far too high. Heavenly Father did not expect perfection from me and therefore, I shouldn’t have either. And I didn’t give the people around me enough credit. Instead of them being judgemental of me (which I was SURE of in my head – I would even take innocent comments and somehow unknowingly make them harsh towards me or my sons)they were loving and just happy I was there. Sure there may have been an exception but whatev’s. The truth is, your ward family is more understanding and loving than I think you realize. Engage them in your efforts, realize we are all in this together and assume good intent. At least when I got old enough to figure that out, I was a lot happier and empathetic towards others.

      Hang in there – it gets better. It always does!


    2. Annalyn:

      Looks like mCat gave you the best advice anyone could.

      For the record, I did specifically include a paragraph in the post where I said that not all kids can be expected to maintain this kind of reverence, that I understand, and have sympathy for the parents.

      I can only hope that had you read the post more carefully, you would have noticed, and not attacked so fiercely.

      Best of luck with the difficult road you are on.

  9. Any advice for those of us with the “backward” church schedule? (Primary/Relief Society first, THEN Sacrament Meeting) I’ve been TRYING to implement some of these ideas the last couple of weeks, but it’s been rough making it through that last half of Sacrament Meeting, since it’s the very last stretch of church for us. Any ideas would be appreciated?! Thanks!

  10. This is a great post! Funny story, there is a family in my Mother’s ward where the Mother has had some serious health problems as has the Father. They have three younger children,well one is a teen now the other around 9 or 10 and then a five year old. This is a blended family so the Father has several much older children, so the youngest is the baby and she thinks of herself as the “baby”. She would wander through the aisles during sacrament meeting, sit with different families, try to play, try to play with all the other kids and babies during sacrament meeting. I think that part of the problem was the Mother and Father’s health, they couldn’t run after her but honestly they shouldn’t have had to because she was old enough to know better. So my Mom’s Bishop called her in and asked her if she would mind trying to get this child under control during Sacrament. She is a neighbor and knows this child so I think he felt that she would feel comfortable sitting with my Mom and my Mom usually sits near the family anyway. So she started bringing a bag with her to church and she has pipe cleaners in it. She would give her a pipe cleaner to fiddle with in her hands to get her to sit still and stay seated. She would give her rewards afterwards like book marks. She wasn’t wandering and being disruptive anymore, she was sitting with her family, and she has learned reverence. I don’t think that she even gives her pipe cleaners anymore although other parents in the ward will send their own children over to my Mother before Sacrament meeting starts to get a pipe cleaner. I totally agree with pretty much everything that you said in this post. I don’t know if this was a unique situation to my Mom’s ward or if this is a typical request from Bishop’s to nice friendly widows who know how to get children under control. I don’t think this was a “calling” per se but it was the Bishop that asked my Mom to do it. Due to the health issues that this child’s parents have been challenged with my Mom brings them dinner and groceries all the time, she gives their kids rides places and helps them out in many other ways. That may have been part of why the Bishop felt that she would be a could helper to get her to sit still. It all worked though. Our wards are also our family and I think that sometimes the families that have a harder time with reverence maybe just need more patience and even a different approach. I agree with you MMM though that if we expect more then kids will usually not disappoint. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. I learned the reverence part but not the respect part as a child. Our bishop gave a talk on reverence and my dad laid down the law, the way he did about everything. “My kids aren’t going to be the ones disrupting the meeting.” So we were perfect little church zombies so avoid his wrath. I have had to unlearn and relearn many things as an adult and I hope I did a better job of teaching the “why” and not just the “what.” I also hope I have done a better job of not needing to have perfect children to show what a good parent I am. Having imperfect children and loving them anyway also makes for a good parent.

  12. I watched a little girl play Unicorn games or whatever on her dad’s iPad during the start of the meeting. During the sacrament, she leaned over to him and whispered, “Do I have to wait until the boys are done to get my juice box.”
    I thought, “Oh my lost teaching opportunity.” Not that I was judging or anything. Because I would never do that.

  13. this raised some great points for me.. even as non church folk..the idea of my kiddlets sitting for that long seems tough, till I realise how long they sit at school. I very much like the point about not being robotic about sitting,but actively listening 🙂 thanks..

  14. Thank you for this post. I laughed so hard when you talked about traditions. I know I can be rather chatty, and I have a hard time keeping my hands still at church. Guess who’s mother is THE.EXACT.SAME.WAY?!?

    In general we have reverent children, but this was good motivation to be better myself and break that tradition of wiggliness (for lack of a better word) that is in my family and refocus on the entire reason our church has young children participate in sacrament- the Spirit.

    I think the best take away we can have is that we all can try a little bit harder in our families no matter where we fall on the reverence scale. It’s not a competition and the Lord can help guide us in what will work best in each of our individual circumstances.

  15. Wow this is great.
    I have a 3 almost 4 year old who is spoiled to death. She doesnt sit through sacrament at all. She’s dancing and talking loud and begging for snacks and drinks.

    I need to try this for sure. I hope to get some results!!

  16. I agree that reverence is important in sacrament meeting, and , yes, I can pick out the families whose kids are leaving every Sunday or crying (I wish some parents would take their kids out instead of letting them cry forever in the chapel!), or what have you. I can’t say I did everything the same as you did (my youngest is 14) but my girls knew that being taken out of sacrament meeting for bad behavior was not a fun thing. It meant sitting in dad’s lap in the foyer (usually restrained while watching the other kids roam freely) or being taken out to the car and strapped in their car seat until they decided to behave. They learned quickly that it was much better to behave and stay in the chapel.
    We did have paper and colored pencils, but during the actual sacrament they were only allowed picture books of the savior. We actually made these during FHE by cutting pics out of old Ensigns, Friends, etc. It was important that they learn to focus on the savior during the Sacrament as early as possible. Now they are teenagers and if they start talking all I have to do is look at them and they stop. It is so TRUE that young kids are capable of so much more and I wish more parents realized that – our entire society would benefit.

  17. I loved all of the practical hands on advice in this article. We already do some of those suggestions, but there are a few new ones we will be trying this Sunday! Thank you for that! However, I thought some areas of the article sounded rather judgmental and condescending. I think the article would have been even better had you focused solely on the ideas and suggestions for positive improvement.

  18. We have sacrament meeting last hour. It is horrible for keeping reverence.mqe don’t enter as families because all the classes get out at different times. However, I have 5 boys ranging from 5-15. We decided 2 years ago, no more snacks or toys. I do bring the friend for them to look at during sacrament to help keep their minds focused. My older boys(15. &13) can be just as bad as the little ones. We have started talking about how really, the chapel is as sacred as the Temple. You are renewing all your covenants so if you wouldn’t slouch with your eyes closed in the temple, you shouldn’t do it in the chapel. Also, our stake has been really pushing to have a no talking rule in the chapel before and after sacrament meeting. My boys know that at soon as the closing prayer is said we gather our stuff and quickly exit. 🙂

  19. Great post! I think one of the easiest things I’ve done as a parent to an active 3 year old is to not sit near other active 3 year olds. When we sit by reverent families/couples it is a LOT easier for her and us to be reverent as well. We have sacrament meeting last (at 2:15, uggghhhh) and it is so much harder for her, even though she is older than she was last year when we had church at 9 with SM first. She wants to keep playing with her nursery friends she just left. So we don’t sit by them. We sit in the front, as far away from other small people as possible. Last year when SM was first this wasn’t an issue, but it is now. Great post, lots of good ideas which I totally support.

  20. AMEN! My parents did all of that to their 7 children, and I think we were the most reverent bunch in the chapel! Now, my husband and I also do those things. Our peers are in awe that we don’t bring ANYTHING to sacrament meeting for the children. Yet, they are so well behaved! Loved all your comments!

  21. Let’s be patient with one another as we do our very best to be our very best. I honestly think that even the super parents out there must forget as soon as their kids turn 5 how EXHAUSTING it is to teach reverence to babies and toddlers. Being in the trenches is another story.

  22. “Reverence has been defined as a “feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, and awe, as for something sacred.” To describe it as a devotion to God is another way to express the meaning of reverence.” We Should Be a Reverent People by Spencer W. Kimball.

    Its a really good little booklet and even has suggestions in the back on helping kids learn reverence. I have to say the first time someone suggested to me that we downsize the snacks and toys for sacrament I thought they were insane. But ever since we have stopped taking anything but paper and pencils my children have been a LOT better! We take paper and pencil because both my husband and I believe strongly in the importance of a spiritual journal so we have our journals during sacrament and the children have theirs. We try and get them focused on what is being said by asking them to draw a picture of what the speaker is talking about (Holy ghost, pioneers, love etc).

    Don’t get me wrong we are far from perfect, and my youngest-3- just had his hearing restored so he is LOUD, and has a hard time understanding what a whisper is, much less using it. But I believe in trying to be our best, and that includes being more reverent in church. When my boys were younger (they are currently 5,4,3) our best was just making it through sacrament meeting without tears.

    I took this post as a comment on how we need to strive to do better, and I appreciate all the helpful comments.

  23. I have six children, ages 10, 9, 7, 5, 2 and 4 months. We have always worked hard with our children to teach them reverence at church. They are all very disciplined (though our 2-year old is still “in training”). This discipline while they are young has paid big dividends over the years! We also work at teaching them how to worship. I agree with almost everything said in your post (it was great!).

    When my oldest two were very young, I wanted to help them understand the sacrament more, so I created a Sacrament Quiet Book. It has a touch and feel piece of bread for them to feel while looking at a painting of the Savior on the cross. It has touch and feel water droplets with a painting of Christ in Gethsemane, etc. I do bring this to Sacrament meeting almost without fail, and it is the best thing I could have done. Rather than distracting them from the meeting, it focuses their thoughts on the Savior and understanding the atonement.

    I feel strongly about avoiding activities which simply distract children or which make noise, and my kids have all learned the importance of listening in church, being reverent, and staying in the chapel. I believe that this particular tool has greatly helped my little ones to draw closer to the Savior during the sacrament, directing their thoughts to the ordinance which is taking place. My older kids don’t need it, of course, though when my 5-year old has been extra restless or tired, I hand him the book. Since he is old enough to read the words, he gains even more from it. A few minutes of that helps him to refocus his thoughts and remember why he is there.

    I have also brought flip books with pictures of Christ and statements about His life and mission, which I let my kids flip through as we wait for church to start. This is especially helpful to remind them of why we are there and prepares them to take the sacrament and focus their thoughts on the Savior. So I don’t have a strict “don’t bring anything to church” policy. Rather, I bring what will help my children learn, worship, and be reverent. It isn’t much, but it has made Sacrament meeting special for the little ones.

    My husband has been the one to take out our “toddlers in training” during sacrament meeting (ages 1-2). He makes sure that going outside is not enjoyable. He loves that he can remind the kids of how nice it is to be in the chapel, and that I have a few church-related items that help them think about the Savior while keeping quiet. Along with wanting our children to be quiet and focus on the Savior, we want church to be a positive experience for them. We have succeeded so far, and hope to keep it that way.

  24. How young do you start this technique? I have a three years old (not in preschool) and one year old. I do expect reverence and that is something that is so important to me. My children are very reverent compared to others I’m just worried about the transition from coloring/reading and snacks to nothing at all. I also agree that if you make a mess you should clean it up and pick up others trash along the way.

    1. With my kids, we just stopped bringing toys/snacks/books/coloring/everything just cold turkey! (my kids are 7, 5, 3, 1.) They were better behaved that week than they had ever been before! It was a testimony builder for sure!

  25. Do you have tips for children with special needs? Last Sunday was one of the best ever because I came prepared with scissors and a trash bag to cut out dragons for my aspergers child. Some Sunday’s are a disaster. I breathe a big sigh of relief after sacrament but then he hates shring time so it gets harder. I’d love to hear how your mom was able to handle that. Thanks!

  26. Great article. I have one child that has always been easy to focus on reverence in church. My second child, not so much (though now at almost 8 she is doing much better than in years past). Reading your post has given me a few ideas to try with her to take it up a notch.

  27. I appreciate your insight and opinion. It’s definately something I think about often.

    I’m one of those mom’s that picks her battles. I often have to go by myself to church becuase my husband works out of town. I have a 2,4, and 6yr old. Two of which are ADHD. Unfortunately I feel the need to have snacks & color’s for distacting and control. Recently I eliminated the quiet toys becuase I didn’t want the playing. The snacks keep my boys quiet. Otherwise they’re shouting or screaming out unexpectedly. It’s a challenge. Somedays, I’m just greatful I made it.

    I am however proud that they’ve learned to be reverant during the passing of the sacrament. I won’t let them color or snack until after it’s passed. During which I whisper in thier ears to think about Jesus and his sacrifice. I use it as a moment to teach about the atonement and the baptism of our Savior. I do however always sit in the back near an exit as to not interupt others worship. I know I’ve got a lot to learn. But like others have said. Sometimes I’m just grateful that I made it. I hope others can be patient with mom’s who struggle like me. I know it’s not perfect. But if you see a mom struggling with little ones, alone, maybe instead of judging, lean over and help. Needless to say when I have someone do that for me I feel my prayers have been answered.

  28. Im really surprised at how many judgmental comments are on here
    I am one of those moms with an irreverent 2yr old son. I usually work evenings and cant get to bed until 1230 at the earliest and our church starts at 9am. Sacrament is first and Im usually very tired.Snacks keep him still and quiet for periods of time. My son is very dramatic and has never been able to sit still (he even jumps on a little trampoline while watching tv). what is seen at church IS my busy boy being reverent. It is reverent for HIM.
    So next time you see a wiggly boy in sacrament just remember its not your place to judge.

  29. I first read this and thought this guy just doesn’t get it…but as I read your comments to others I realized that wasn’t ur point. Yes I am one of those moms who pack a bazilloon things to keep six kids under eleven entertained. But now I am leaning towards ur idea that they can make the seventy minutes without snack. And coloring books. Yes my hubby has been on the stand and my kids are wiggly and like to pick on eachother. But I am going to try some of ur suggestions. Especially the treat thing and see if reverence happens more. Because as much as I like being told we r entertaining and patient parents. I would rather be more reverent and setting that example for others. As for those who wrote judgmental comments. U Domt know everyones situation so don’t judge just be glad they r there and maybe see if u can help them in anyway, u might be surprised at the miracles that might happen in ur lives and the lives for those u r servinng. I am thankful to those wonderful youth who would sit with me and my kids to keep it more reverent and allow me to feel the spirit. Thanks for making me think of ways to make mine and others sacrament meeting better.

  30. I tried my best to communicate my thoughts in the post, but I will try and elaborate…

    When my kids were five, they were already spending 6 hour days in kindergarten. I figure if they can handle that, they can learn to worship for 70 minutes. I think ANY toy is a distraction from what they are supposed to be learning, and the behaviors they are supposed to be learning. I know a kid looking through a magazine is not remotely trying to listen.

    HOWEVER, if you ask me about a two-year-old, I might have a different answer. 🙂 Parents need to figure it out for themselves, but I would always try and fall on the side of respecting our children’s abilities, and not presuming that they can’t do much.

  31. What are your thoughts on church related “toys” in Sacrament Meeting? Let me explain. Sacrament Meeting is not designed to meet the attention span and the developmental needs of say a 5 year old. I mean are they really listening? I can think back and remember only really paying attention if a fellow kid was speaking, a musical number was presented, or somebody I thought was cool (aka my primary teacher). All the rest, my brothers and I resorted to creating snot rockets out of the program (that stopped after one didn’t come out, and I was NOT going to confess to my parents as to WHY a piece of paper was up my nose… I’m pretty sure Heavenly Father made that one stick on purpose just to teach me a lesson on reverence 🙂 ) Anyway, my thought is, NO, each kid does not need Barbie, Tonka trucks, Dad’s ipad, and a whole backpack of junk for each one. That teaches “you’re right! This is pretty boring to sit through, and its not important.” However, I feel a quiet book about Jesus (not “let’s count Suzie’s apples” type of a deal), the Friend, a cardboard book with Greg Olson/Simon Dewey art with the words of a primary song are ok, put in a basket set aside for Sunday, each week they can choose an item or 2 to take, only if they are reverent. If they aren’t reverent, I really like your table idea. I cringe when crying kids are taken out to play. I feel that they are still learning, feeling the spirit, and learning at their own level/attention span during that time. Thoughts?

  32. I didn’t take the time to read all 150+ comments (no time!) but I just wanted to say that I think all of this needs to be taken with more than a bit of a grain of salt. For example, consider that you get to church early. This means that you really can’t determine who you sit next to. Not that you want to avoid people, but it’s hard to maximize reverence if you have someone sitting behind you who draws your children’s attention by handing them toys, or food, or playing with them. I’ve been going to church in South American (many new converts who were not raised with reverence as a priority) for several months, and I’ve found that it is especially difficult to help my children to be reverent when it seems that everyone else is working against me. One Sunday I decided absolutely no snacks in Sacrament Meeting, but when my kids fussed (not even for snacks, just making some noise) I had no less than 3 people bringing snacks for my children, some just handing the food directly to them without even asking me. I don’t really see away of approaching everyone in my ward and, without offending them, asking them to please help my children be reverent by not distracting them and giving them food (especially when I don’t speak Spanish well).

    Bottom line: reverence is important, and it is something to strive for, but it is not always something you can control. Just do your best and don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go as you plan.

  33. I am in total agreement with your post here. We are good with most of it. I think that will begin to change. I have the privilege of doing sharing time next Sunday and have been searching for things for my lesson. I really enjoyed this. We have issues with kids getting up when ever they want to throw something away or go to the bathroom. Drives me bonkers!!! I am new to the presidency and hope to be able to nip this in the bud. Thank you for your post!

  34. I’m not going to leave a lengthy comment, but wanted to thank you for the encouragement you’ve provided here to help- my children be more reverent. You make so many valid points that I am determined to rid myself of my 50 pound church bag and bring only what is NECESSARY to church from now on (probably just diapers, wipes and my scriptures). I know my children can be reverent, so I’m going to stop getting in their way.

  35. Well, I am really late in finding and commenting on this post, but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated it. I think one of the things you were trying to say is that some families can make a greater effort and, not only will it benefit the congregation as a whole, but it is IN THEIR CHILDREN’S BEST INTEREST. I especially connected with the statement you made about some parents not ever wanting to say no. I am a teacher and a mother of 2 young adults and I want to tell young parents from first-hand experience that this kind of parenting does not result in what they think it will. Luckily, we set boundaries, limits, and rules for our children and they are good kids so far, but when I see the behavior of some of my students, I am absolutely blown away. The parent’s response is always some version of, “We don’t like to say no.” These kids almost always get in serious trouble within 2-3 years of leaving my class (I teach 6th grade). One of the worst things about our society as a whole is that parents aren’t willing to, can’t or won’t be parents anymore. So, I really appreciated your viewpoint. I think we can make an effort. Thank you!

  36. This is fascinating. I’m looking forward to giving it a try next Sunday. Typically, we do bring a few “quiet books” and toys for our 2 year old. I don’t really find that it helps though- she’s distracted for a while, and then just really bored. I really don’t know if she could make it through that whole time, trying to pay attention to the speakers though. In fact, I’m already feeling a bit discouraged at the thought. She’s a good girl, but she’s never been expected to do that before. Any tips on how to gradually transition from being a two year old given quiet books and toys, to being reverent?

  37. IT’s probably better that you didn’t ask how church went. Here’s a quick run down… We ended up a few minutes late. The opening hymn had just started. The only available bench was halfway taken up by my sister in law and her 6 kids. Of course the kids were very excited to sit by their cousins. I knew it wasn’t a good day to have the trial run, but since I didn’t pack the church bag with it’s normal snacks and toys, I persevered. Trying to control 10 kids on the very first bench was not my ideal sacrament meeting. However, none of my kids asked to go out for drinks or bathroom because I had already explained to them before our “new plan”. The 2 year old did manage to find a very hard half of an old red vine licorice in the bottam of the bag and had it smeared all over his face and clothes and my dress before I even noticed. So… I guess we’ll try again next week. And keep on trying… and most importantly, get to church on time!!

  38. Okay, I know the thread is closed, but I just wanted to say thanks for a great post. I wish I had found it earlier as I always knew I was doing something “wrong” but could never figure out how to do it differently. My kids are now 10,8,6, and 2 and today will be our first trial run without the bags of fruit loops and toys, etc. I am scared, but I know that it takes small steps. We aren’t going cold turkey, but we have talked about it, and I’m only bringing a few picture books for the 2 year old. Everyone else is expected to be reverent. Wish us luck!

  39. OK. THIS time I am REALLY closing this thread – but first, I wanted to post a comment that came in over the weekend that disagreed with me.

    Anonymous: The last comment had all sorts of good thoughts and wisdom – I wasn’t responding to it personally. I am the first to admit that many of the comments on this thread were negative, and some weren’t very nice – and I’m not defending them – but calling those commenters out as “being hateful and mean and small” is just more of the same kind of judgment, only with a much more self-righteous tone. THAT is very very sad.

    NOW this thread is really closed. REALLY.

    1. How was that last comment “highly judgmental?” It was the most non-judgmental and loving comment I have seen on this thread so far. And it has made the most sense! I don’t think “anonymous” was talking to you personally. They were talking to people in general. Obviously it touched a nerve with you. You seem to be the one who twisted it into being a judgmental comment. That is sad. This entire topic and all the comments are very very sad. I agree with what “anonymous” said and think that you should go back and re-read President Uchtdorf’s conference talk “Stop It.” Judgment will be worked out in the next life and with the Savior. And THAT is what matters! Everything else, including irreverent children is “small potatoes” in comparison! 🙂

  40. I think the main thing we need to remember is to be loving and helpful, not judgmental and critical. Obviously judgment and criticism is a large problem in the church since it was a main focus of this last General Conference. We NEVER know what is going on in the hearts of others and what their struggles are. Therefore, we should not judge them. Perhaps that boy you see coloring has ADHD and literally cannot pay attention UNLESS he is doing something that will otherwise distract him enough so that he CAN pay attention. Perhaps the girl you see eating a little snack in the meeting has blood sugar issues and physically cannot make it through an hour without needing to eat something or else she’ll get sick. Perhaps the mother you see chasing her kids down the aisle in church was up all night long because she herself has health issues and cannot sleep and was fighting a migraine and is frazzled and tired and fighting back tears and feeling incredibly inadequate and wishing that very day that she could give up. But she decided to make it to church and then her child decided to pick that day in particular to throw a tantrum and run up and down the aisles. I agree 100% that reverence is of the UTMOST importance! But I also agree that being loving and nonjudgmental and compassionate is important – maybe even more-so than reverence at this point. I would suggest that (this is speaking to some who have commented here) rather than pass judgment, we should offer help and sympathy. Instead of saying “Oh, there is this family in MY ward who does THIS” and talking badly about them behind their back, perhaps you might offer to sit by them in Sacrament Meeting and ask if they would like help with their kids. Or maybe go up to them after the meeting and give them a sincere smile and a genuine hug and a warm, “I’m so happy to see you and your family here today.” I will testify that snide remarks and dirty looks do not a happy situation make and they will NOT change a situation and make ANYONE happy or help in any case. As President Uchtdorf said in this last Conference, “Stop It!” Just stop it. Stop being hateful and mean and small. Stop comparing yourself to others and stop bragging when you think that YOUR family does something better. We ALL have struggles and maybe your family is good at being reverent. And that is WONDERFUL! You can celebrate that victory privately. But I’m sure that you have struggles in other areas that you wouldn’t want people judging you in. Instead of bragging, instead of belittling and judging, how about we show more COMPASSION? How about we live more like our Savior? I think that love is the key. And if we show more love, then things like reverence will come more naturally for all.

  41. Thank you! I’m expecting my first baby in just 9 weeks (!) and I have been thinking about the expectations I want to set for my child in church quite a bit. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

  42. This is a good article, and it has some great tips, but some of the comments are very judgmental. Just because your kids sit through sacrament meeting and your nieces and nephews don’t doesn’t make you better. Please just assume that everyone is trying their hardest. At least their at sacrament! Don’t drive people away because they have wild kids.

  43. Nice article, but not for me. I have a hyper 20-month old and I am so proud of her for just making it through lunch and nap time to be in sacrament meeting. I saw many comments on here about feeding kids during the 10-minute breaks. Maybe it’s because all our callings require different things, but I take off running after sacrament to get mine ready. I’m just so grateful for nursery and the little snack my girl gets there. But I know it’s not enough so I do allow her to eat snacks in sacrament meeting. I’m also selective to not bring things that will spill everywhere. We use the applesauce or other pureed foods that come in pouches that she can sit and suck, then it gets thrown away. No crumbs or mess. We also always bring her cup of milk. I don’t mind her sitting on a seat and coloring either. Maybe it’s my early-childhood background, but it’s just not developmentally appropriate for her to sit in a chair doing nothing for over an hour. There is a lot of research about doodling and learning too. Often times, if people are busy with their hands (doodling, play dough, silly putty, lacing cards, etc) they retain more of what they hear. I saw this work in my kindergarten classroom and primary. One boy with ADHD would just squish silly putty all through sharing time and he would comment and participate more because his hands were busy and he was listening. Now, I have a mia maid who does the same thing and her reverance and ability to pay attention have greatly improved.
    I’m surprised how judgmental people are about this. I’ve never watched an irreverent family and thought how horrible they are or been annoyed by it. I feel for the parents and their struggle. Maybe we should judge less and help more? And by help, I don’t mean rude comments. I guess to me, church is about more than all of this. It seems so inconsequential to worry about other families around me. We don’t know how hard it can be for some people to even come. So let them come, however irreverent they may be.

    1. “I feel for the parents and their struggle. Maybe we should judge less and help more?”

      That was the point of the post. It is amazing how many emails I have received from formerly struggling parents who have seen a positive transformation in their family’s worship from expecting more from their kids, and treating sacred times as “different” than the rest of the day.

    2. And that’s wonderful. I wasn’t hurt or offended by your article at all, but was hurt by the comments of others. I was just surprised to read what some wrote about others in their ward. It would hurt me to have someone say those things to or about me. The article itself did not come across judgmental to me. It was just advice that we can all take or leave. I found parts of it helpful and as with all things, will take those to heart and practice. I don’t think I expect less from my child than you do from yours, my expectations are just different. When she was an infant, I expected (and hoped!) that she would wait to nurse until I had at least taken the sacrament before we had to leave. As a toddler now, I expect her to sit quietly and not run around, and since she’s young, her board book about Jesus helps her to do that. Now that she understands more about praying, I expect her to fold her arms and bow her head for the prayers. It doesn’t always last a whole prayer, but we’re getting better. I look forward to the day when I can explain to her what the sacrament means and why we take it. For now, I ask her to not yell “bread!” as soon as she sees the deacons stand. Expectations change as children grow and I look forward to the day she walks into sacrament meeting and doesn’t cry for nursery. I hope she can enjoy that part as much as the two hours that come after.

    3. “Expectations change as children grow”

      Perfectly said! I so appreciate everything you said in all of your comments and agree 100%.

  44. Like my mission president said, “If 80-90 year old men can sit through General Conference without having to go out and use the bathroom, then you should be able to.” Of course this was directed at the missionaries, but same point for your kids.

  45. I just have to say that a lot of you on here sound very self righteous and not at all in the manner that god see’s things.yes reverence is very important and family’s should do their very best to teach their children how to be,I for one as a single mother with a very active 3 year old have a difficult time in sacrament trying to get her to stay quit/calm it is a very real challenge and it can be embarrassing.having others judge you and make comments about your struggle does not help…it is not how God would be he would try to help not judge.when you have that from the brethren and sisters in your ward/stake it makes it to where you are not comfortable being at church where God want’s us to be.so stop judging and talking about it and see if you can do service in a non condemning way.

    1. Yeah, we have 4 kids 4 and under. It used to be 4 kids 3 and under. There is only so much you can do, especially when one escapes and runs around the benches, and causes a great scene while you are trying not to run after them. I do say, the older they get the more reverent they are getting.

  46. Ok, since this post continues to get dozens of comments, I have to tell an irreverent story.

    Last Sunday, we were fighting the good fight to keep everyone quiet during the sacrament. My 1 1/2 year old sat up and let out an echoing belch during the quietest part of the sacrament. There was a slight delay of a few seconds and then a chorus of giggles from my 5 other children. I was laughing as hard as they were albeit quieter. The whole front half of the room heard it and giggled as well. As soon as I got it under control, I looked over at my EC who was wiping mascara from laughing so hard, which just caused me to start laughing again. I started getting some dirty looks, so I soon calmed down and tried to get my kids to be quiet again. In the midst of all this talk about the importance of reverence, I just want to say that some occasional irreverence is good for the soul too.

  47. Great points, interesting delivery. I’m a teacher and an early childhood specialist. I really agree with most of what you said, but I’m a little shocked I have to say about how many people there are judging other families during sacrament meeting. That doesn’t seem in the spirit of reverence either. I’m glad I’m not in your ward.

    1. I agree that it has all gotten too judgmental – you should see some of the comments that I deleted. But I have to give you ‘props’ – you are the first one to really think big and collectively judge an entire ward!

  48. I almost dont know what to say in comment, first I do have snacks but I like the idea of giving it to them on the car ride there, I can’t do between because of my calling but I could try before, I guess I struggle with this because, of all the judgments (mostly from comments) of other parents…for one there are many converts to the church (like my parents) who don’t have generations of example to follow, and like me when my first was little I was completely clueless to how to get my wild, head strong little man to sit still. I tried toys, treats, nothing, holding to my lap in a classroom (resulted in people peaking in to make sure I wasn’t killing my son with all the screaming coming from the little 2 year old) I am not struggling with my 1 year old who just wants to run and climb, I have a 3 year old who will sit but when he sees brother acting up what do you think he wants to do? Then there are so many mixed signals either people stare because you are being to strict and you can’t feel the spirit because you so focused on getting them to sit just right, not talk, not do anything, or you get glared at if your 3 year old sits quiet and colors or does a lace card, there is no winning! I just wish we could all be supportive of one another and not judge or condescend! Honestly I do struggle to get my two rambunctious little ones to even sit still for FHE let alone the entire sacrament they don’t run around and talk loud but its not what I feel it should be, but when I see other children going up and down the isles or eating a snack or what ever I just feel for those parents, they are probably just as tired,overwhelmed and probably as clueless as me with everything! We are all growing and church is not a place for perfect people, it is a place for imperfect people to go to strive to become perfect (which we can NOT achieve in this life) sorry for the rant I guess it just struck a cord.

  49. My kids are generally reverent during sacrament meeting but I noticed that when we missed three weeks of church in a row due to illness, General Conference, family emergency etc. they fell out of the habit and totally revolted against reverence. Add a sleepless night with a migraine and you know where this is going. It was terribly frustrating!

    So I guess what I am saying is,
    1. Do your best to consistently attend church – reverently. 2. Have compassion for the momma with a migraine who is dragging 3 kids to church alone because her husband is out of town, and
    3. I need to add my own reverence pet peeve: if you are sharing a building with another ward and your meeting times overlap, PLEASE show reverence in the hallways when you are leaving — especially during the sacrament prayer for goodness sake!

  50. Thank you for that! I must be on facebook too much because I kept wanting to “like” each paragraph! I go to church every week with my 3 kids and no hubby (he has to work) and it is hard. Some weeks I feel like if I had been in that chapel 3 more minutes one of us wouldn’t have survived! Bet then we have amazing weeks where everyone is reverent. I have found that I have to avoid sitting in the overflow. aka gym. It is just too tempting for them to be roudy. I don’t know why. Also, we have to have our own row. If we sit in the middle section they are preoccupied with what the children next to us are doing. Really though, a bad week for us is still not as bad as it could be. I have only had to take them out a handful of times total since they were past the baby stage and threw a holy fit! I was taught how important revernence is as a child and it has always been something that is important to me.

  51. Thank you for your wise words. I’ve always felt that reverence is an issue in our ward. We have a large ward, in a very small building, with very little reverence in the classes and out in the halls as well. I feel a bit crazy every week when we get home from the volume and the clatter.

  52. I love this and love your ideas. I am a first time mom of a 22 month old and wish I had read this before she was born! I’m pregnant with my second due in June and would love to get my first up to these standards to set a good example for her little sister.

    My question is, how do I undo what I’ve already done? I am not proud of this, but I know that I have trained her to think “oh, we’re away from the house? Great! Where are the snacks?” I patted myself on the back for a while because they were “healthier snacks” (cucumbers, plain popcorn, etc., rather than goldfish and froot loops), but I know that I’ve created a poor habit in her. She’s a great kid and I definitely wouldn’t say that she is irreverent or distracting to others (at least I hope not!), but I fully agree that I can expect more from her and that she’s capable of more. Do you have any advice for me on where I can go from here having not started from the beginning?

  53. I really enjoyed this post! Reverence is a BIG deal for me and my husband. We implemented something similar to the “table” technique with our oldest child. Fortunately that was back when both of us were sitting together and could team tag her (and we thought that was exhausting!) There were so many Sundays I wanted to just give up and let her run wild with the rest of the toddlers in our sacrament meetings (not really, but ALMOST 😉 I’m SO THANKFUL we were consistent because she is now my 9 year old that has set a wonderful example of reverence for my other 3 children. Now that I sit alone with my children while my husband is on the stand, I really have very few problems and I always have people comment on how reverent my children are…which I will gladly accept! You are right…when it comes to “entertainment” for kids, less is SO MUCH more! That was the key for us. And as much as I hate to have “a bench” in our chapel…we do! Right up front and to the side, right behind the deacons passing the sacrament and right in front of the Bishops wife and her reverent teenagers, and close enough to see their father giving them the “look” if things do start to get out of hand 😉 We don’t sit by any other children and we sit by other reverent people and THAT has made all the difference!
    Thanks again for a wonderful post!

  54. So I have read through all the posts hoping to connect with one person, but it seems that I have experienced a different kind of struggle. I am a mother of 5, ages 9-16 months, and my husband is in the Bishopric, so I sit alone. My children do get rowdy, and fight and talk louder than is permitted. I take them out, sit them in chairs until they can be reverent before going back in and trying again. But where my challenge lies is that other mothers have gotten on to me for NOT having treats or toys or coloring books! Some have even gone to the extent to send their teenagers to the library in the middle of sacrament to find a bag of crayons and a random piece of paper for my kids because I did not provide them with anything. I get frustrated and have told these people that I don’t bring those things because I KNOW my kids and that they will just fight and not be reverent, but I have had this ‘help’ from several different people, and so I guess I feel I have been bullied into bringing these things. I’m darned if I do, darned if I don’t sort of thing. One sister, who is super sweet and I understand her trying to help, but she went to the trouble of making these folders with pockets that held matching game pictures (which my kids fought over) and even bought me the lace up boards! She sits behind me, so I know she sees me struggle and her intentions are good, but now I feel obligated to bring these things. I’ll be sitting in our pew and then a toy will just show up in one of my kids’ hands, when I ask where they got that from they point to some random lady (it’s been a different person, as this has happened on many occasions) and the person will just give me a “You’re Welcome.” nod. NO! I DON’T WANT THE TOYS! I just can’t win, so I just gave up. After reading this post though I’m going to give it another shot. I’m not bringing anything with me on Sunday for sacrament and hopefully eventually if I stick to my guns the offers and disproving stares will diminish.

    1. Kara: That is hand’s down the craziest comment I’ve seen on this thread. What a lovely lose/lose situation. I also feel for your husband. Sitting on the stand while your wife struggles with the kids is an absolutely powerless feeling.

      One thought – I would sit somewhere else, like the front side, so you only have one neighbor – explain to them what you are trying to do so they won’t interfere. Have your husband save the pew for you, or get there really early.

      You definitely get full credit for trying! Keep us posted!

      It is nice that people are trying to help…

    2. Okay, so the first Sunday without anything was really hard. I was in tears before the sacrament was passed. Also sitting on the side so they can see Daddy didn’t work for them. The whole time at least one of my kids was saying they wanted to sit with Daddy. We are talking full on crying for him. I was broken that day, but I didn’t give up. The next Sunday went A LOT better! I think it was a success. Even though I was constantly telling them to be quiet and stop talking so loud and musical chairs, I didn’t have to take anyone out and there were no major meltdowns. But despite me thinking it was a success the RS Pres. who was sitting behind me was not so positive. She told me afterward that watching me struggle throughout sacrament made her grateful for her 3 miscarriages! OUCH! She even said that if those were her kids they were be some physical harm done to make them behave. A very awkward conversation. I guess that is why I wasn’t that motivated the next week to get there on time for sacrament at all. But after my pity party and building my esteem by focusing on the positive of that Sunday, I got to church early yesterday, sat in our regular pew in the middle but closer to the back, and had a pretty good sacrament. The only one that gave me trouble was the baby, and that I can deal with. Also what helped is another mother let me borrow her oldest daughter, which was a big help and more appreciated than toys that my kids would have just fought over. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and feel more confident that my kids can be reverent. We are going to keep this going, and I definitely feel better for it! Thanks for you advice and help!

    3. Amen, MMM.

      More positively, good for you, Kara! I will also mention that when I was a bishop’s counselor and bishop, I often had one of my little ones seated on the stand with me. And during my most recent turn as a counselor, my bishop had his youngest sitting with us on the stand.

    4. There is a family in the ward that set a good example I think for others to follow when a (lone) parent is struggling and overburdened with their children. One Sunday when my husband was at home sick, I was having a very hard time managing our children and keeping them quiet. My 20-month-old was being particularly trying and kept running into the aisle whenever my four and six year-old would start fighting. After running into the aisle for the umpteenth time; one of the brethren in my ward picked him up and took him to sit with his family. My toddler calmed down and I was better able to keep the others reverent. Two-years-later, my son still has a special relationship with that family and runs up to greet them in the halls.

  55. My 3 year old definitely needs her snacks. We eat Breakfast at 8:30 go to church at 9 and Sacrament is last. I think reverence is very important. I think parents need to be the examples to their children, and they definitely need to expect more as well, and not give in. But there’s no reason for any of us to judge others and what they are doing wrong in Sacrament meeting. That’s enough to lose the spirit quite quickly.

  56. Suggestion for a lone parent with multiple small children. If you are worried about taking a child out and having to leave other children in the chapel by themselves, ask a parent of an YW age child if it would be ok to have them sit with you.

  57. one thing that has helped me was to help with the spirit physically. Laying down on the bench, floor, or even sitting around facing the back is not reverent. Having my son sit with his arms folded and facing forward has helped a ton (my son was out of control for as an infant) but once he was old enough to understand folding your arms and facing forward helped a ton. Now that he is a little older I don’t make him sit the entire sacrament folding his arms but he is encouraged to do it the entire sacrament and during any and all prayers and to sing (I have my finger follow under the words, even though he doesn’t know how to read let alone music it keeps his attention and even breaks up the monotony).
    One great piece of advice I was given was, at home put in a book on tape and have your kids sit quietly on the couch and just listen. Even if at first you are only able to have them sit for 15 mins, just keep going and try to get them to sit quietly listening for an hour and half. This helps them learn to listen and how to be reverent and it’s in a setting that you talk and explain and reward and such.

  58. I just found this on Pinterest and I love it! I agree completely…I have totally been just being a cop out mom. I load the bag with snacks and every toy and coloring thing possible JUST TO KEEP THEM BUSY AND QUIet so that I can try to hopefully get something out of it! I need to stop, just buckle down and TEACH them now! Thanks for your suggestions and blunt advice…it is oh so true!!

  59. I always appreciate some suggestions, so thanks for posting your opinions so that I, an un-experienced mom of an 18 month old, can try to do what I feel is right for my family. I, at age 26, sit alone in a single’s ward sacrament, while my 25 year old husband sits on the stand in the bishopric! We were new parents when he was called, so I’ve only known being the only parent w/ a little one in sacrament meeting! It’s even more pressure, because any peep is clearly and obviously from my cutie! I have had this theme on my mind so much lately and I enjoyed reading your opinions. I will try to instill more reverence in my child. I definitely pack too much after reading this. I am not offended by books about Christ, so I think that for *my family* those will be the extent. And, after having my own embarrassing accident in church with goldfish yesterday, I have to say that I feel in my heart that that is one point with which the spirit confirmed I can change to do better. Thanks again, for your suggestions, no one has to agree or disagree with anything you wrote, but I chose to let it help me. This is my first time on your blog (thanks to PInterest) and I just might be back. 🙂

  60. You give wonderful pointers. I realize I don’t teach reverence as much as I should at home which is a downer because I was taught this very early on in my life. I will pray for ways to do this as I have 3 super active little boys (twins are 3yrs old and a 17month old) and sacrament meetings are hard for us at times. We started to bring snacks to help calm the boys down but you are right it is an act of irreverence and I need to stop this. I will prayerfully consider ways to begin this process at home of teaching reverence. Thanks for this great reminder.

  61. Wow, Alisnotmartha! I guess I’m not surprised, but I am.

    At a recent stake youth fireside, they had signs at the door of the chapel asking youth to leave their cell phones, etc. OFF and out of hand/sight. The first speaker (the stake YM pres) reiterated that request and told the youth that they would not be asked to look up any scriptures, so they wouldn’t even need them for that reason. It was a refreshing meeting in that way.

  62. I am late to the party but wanted to throw thanks and an observation out there.

    First, thanks for a great post. I am going to have my teens read it b/c I think they are mature enough to “get it” and b/c they have been fighting me on not doing other things while listening to the speakers. Granted, one has OCD and that presents additional struggles and it does help her to do something with her hands so that she can listen – but she needs to stop using that as a crutch.

    Second – I was privileged to be able to attend the YW General Broadcast in the Conference Center last Saturday with my two teen girls. I was in shock at the number of blue screens I could see from where I was sitting. AT least 1 out of 10 or 15 laps had some kind of screen in it. And only ONE of them in my view was being used “appropriately” (iPad for notetaking). Two rows in front of me there were 3 ladies talking, texting, chatting – through EVERY TALK. Handing phones back and forth showing things to each other. Checking Facebook. Every time it got really out of hand I reached for my purse b/c I was going to chuck some wadded-up paper at them. Then they seemed to stop momentarily and I lost my nerve.

    Well, at the end of the meeting, I figured out that one of them was actually THE MOM. So yeah, you nailed in on the head with culture. Though I have to give a tiny morsel of credit – they all put their phones away when the Prophet spoke.

    Then, as soon as he finished his talk, about 5% of the audience popped up from their seats and headed for the doors before the closing hymn and prayer. My girls were shocked – I decided to say, in my loudest *I want people to hear this and I don’t care what they think* voice, “Yes, it’s tacky to get up and leave before the meeting has ended, just like it’s tacky to text and check Facebook during any meeting.”

    Don’t know if they heard me, but I felt better.

    The ushers said that there’s really nothing they can do (REALLY?) but that they would mention to their superiors that a lot of electronics were observed.

    My husband says that until a leader at the pulpit stops a meeting and tells people to put their i thingies away and why, that it will continue, because we all rationalize and have our explanations about why we are different and special. I have brought my phone to church on occasion and you know what? It’s nothing but a distraction. So it stays home.

    Thanks again.

  63. First of all, thank you for the post. It is a great reminder that we could all use to reevaluate our own personal, as well as our family members’, reverence. Even if we don’t always agree on every point of how to achieve it. 🙂

    For me, the goal is more than just having my children learn how to sit quietly. That is a huge part of reverence during Sacrament Meeting and it is also part of being respectful to those around you who are there to worship. But that is just part of what I want my kids to learn.

    Ultimately, I want them to learn why we go to Sacrament Meeting: to renew our baptismal covenants and worship the Savior. Before they have reached the age of baptism, they can still learn how to participate appropriately in these two reasons why we attend. I want my kids to know that Sacrament Meeting is different and important and that their main goal (now and throughout their life) when they attend should be to 1) renew their covenants and 2) grow closer to the Savior and His gospel.

    I do think it is possible to teach young children to sit silently for an hour, but I don’t necessarily believe that they are feeling the spirit during that time. That is why I think that at the early ages, appropriate (not just quiet) items, such as pictures of the Savior, board books about church, The Friend, etc are ways to help them be reverent and respectful while still worshiping at their level. (Even at school, the younger kids are not expected to sit in silence while the teacher lectures them for an hour or more. They are engaged in interactive learning activities that are geared just for their level of understanding and development. And usually, each segment lasts for much less than an hour, broken up by other activities such as playtime, recess, or reading, etc. ) As they grow, what is expected should grow with them. My 12 year old is expected to reverently listen to the talks. My 5 year old is expected to reverently think about Jesus and allow those around her to worship without distraction, with help at times from the Friend and church pictures.

    MMM, I do agree with everything else you mentioned. When we did have to take our children out, they had to sit on a cold, hard chair in an empty room with no entertainment or distraction for them at all. They quickly learned it was much more enjoyable to sit in the comfy pew with their family and some pictures to look at and think about. I also think that beyond nursery age, treats are not necessary anymore. When our meeting hour is over a particularly challenging time (this year we are at 11am, which is when our youngest usually has her lunch at school), we make sure she has something to eat right before church. Sunday’s eating schedule is always off anyway, so that’s the best we can do to help her cope with it. But unless there are health reasons, or for the VERY young, I think snacks are not helpful at all, and usually just cause more problems. :S

  64. Amen, MMM! It reminds me when the Brethren “raised the bar” for missionaries. We need to raise the bar on our children too. They might not always meet it, but at least they will be doing a little bit better.

  65. I am a mother of 6 great kids, I agree with and have had much the same approach to reverence, because of church callings, (hubby on the stand) and being widowed 12 years ago,(kids ages 12yrs to 18 months, at the time) I have been greatful for the ground work and importance of reverence that we continue at church and home! now that my children are a little older I cherish that beautiful time to worship and be feed together, I know first hand how hard it can be doing it alone, but the diligence is WELL worth it! It is a little sad that in general, society has lost the importance of respect in soo many areas, I would hope that sacred things can again be a priority, when it comes to “be still” (President Hinkleys book, Stand a little taller)

  66. I was in a large meeting in the Conference Center full of families. President Monson got up to speak. His first comment was about the sweet noises of all the children in the room and of the mothers chasing them down the aisles. He said how glad he was they were there, complimented the mothers and fathers and then said, “Let them run.” Yes, he did. You could almost feel a breeze as every mother’s head in the room whipped up in disbelief. Suddenly it felt like the whole room relaxed and the a spirit of love filled the room. It was a wonderful meeting. I will never forget President Monson’s obvious love for the children of the church. We can all work on our own reverance as well as every other virtue the gospel teaches. But if we have not charity, then we are nothing. I’ve found that if I pray about the irritation I sometimes experience from the actions of others, I inevitably get the unpleasant feeling that there’s something in my eye. ~Jennie

    1. Could not love this comment more. I was very upset and sad after reading the post and the comments. I began to feel, as I have many times, that I am not doing enough when it comes to raising my child. That somehow, I have missed the mark once again. But this comment, brought my spirits back up. It reminded me that I am a good mother, and that all I need to do is my best. Thank you for this wonderful, wonderful comment.

    2. I love your comment too. As the mother of four (out of six) very hyper-active children; there is a good reason most sacrament meetings are spent hiding in the back of the chapel. We do our best, but inevitably one or two end up spending some time in the foyer. I remember President Monson making a similar remark at a broadcast Stake conference as I was taking my rambunctious then three-year-old daughter outside. I was at the end of my rope with her and I can honestly say that his remarks were why she got some quiet time and a cuddle instead of a scolding. I’ve kept this in mind ever since when they have misbehaved and it has helped me be more patient with them.

  67. Collin: I appreciate your opinion, and I promise you don’t need to defend me as you are disagreeing with me. I don’t mind a bit.

    I do disagree with your premise: “I felt the post was focusing on the wrong things. Instead of worrying about what other parents are doing wrong in teaching their children reverence in Sacrament Meeting, shouldn’t we just be happy they are there and worry more about who isn’t there and should be?”

    First, I consider myself “one of those other parents” as I learn and struggle with this issue. The second part I see as a bit of copout – “At least we showed up”. I think showing up is the baseline, and from there we are expected to strive to improve our reverence and communion with the Lord.

    The main point I was shooting for was not to pass blanket judgement, but to bring out the idea that one of the reasons we bring our kids to church is so that they can learn, learn to worship, and feel the Spirit. All of which are very difficult without reverence.

    Side note: I don’t know what Jesus would do, But I know that Brigham Young and Boyd K. Packer would want crying children taken out.

    Perhaps I communicated the entire post poorly, and I meant no offense. I did go read the links you provided, and was surprised to see how many points they brought up were mentioned in my post…

    Thanks for being willing to voice your opinion, and for your support of me and my blog as well. I consider you a friend.

    1. Would you rather I take my crying child out or teach them they don’t get to leave whenever they get upset. My kids are great in sacrament and its nice when other kids are too. But this post made me more aware of how many people are silently bashing me the second my child asks to use the bathroom (extremely rare btw).basically, the second teaching reverence to our own children turns into judging others you’re not doing so hot. You and everyone here are just too funny.

  68. I have to admit that I was a little offended when I read this post. I have a lot of kids, and they aren’t always reverent. I felt the post was focusing on the wrong things. Instead of worrying about what other parents are doing wrong in teaching their children reverence in Sacrament Meeting, shouldn’t we just be happy they are there and worry more about who isn’t there and should be? The fact is: we are poor judges of intentions and motivations. We only see the outside appearance. The parents who let their children run free might have some good reasons for doing so. Any parent knows that despite our best efforts, children sometimes use their agency to misbehave. If we believe the parents to truly be in error, then we as their brothers and sisters should do our best to help them. I keep coming back to the thought: what would Jesus do. We know that Jesus loves little children and wants us to be like them. If Jesus were in our Sacrament meeting and saw some completely irreverent children, what would he do? Whatever it is, I’m sure everyone involved would come away feeling served and uplifted. That’s not how I felt coming away from this post. I’m as big a proponent of this blog and MMM as anyone, but I really struggled with the way this topic was presented and the chorus of agreements with it. Was I just a wicked parent taking the truth to be hard? Why was I upset? So I pondered, prayed, and looked to the words of the prophets. I found a good article on lds.org that addressed this topic in a way my wounded pride could relate with: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1984/02/children-can-learn-reverence?lang=eng&query=reverence+children

    I also liked this article with tips on how to be more reverent in our wards and meetings: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1990/03/how-we-improved-reverence?lang=eng&query=reverence+children

    I know MMM is a good man, and that the point of this post was to help us all to get more out of Sacrament meeting and to learn to properly reverence sacred things. I’m sure the confused message I received from the post was more of a reflection of my imperfections than his. Let’s not forget that this is a gospel of love, and that we are all sinners trying to be saints. Our Heavenly Father loves all of us, reverent and wiggly.

    -Colin Booth

  69. This has been a really interesting read. As I came back to see more comments I thought of a post I had recently made We are all pioneers The traditions of families that have not included reverence can be changed, it only takes one generation to add a positive family tradition.


  70. My young kids draw pictures of themselves standing with Jesus. They draw the Temple, the church, they draw our family surrounded by hearts, they draw themselves with missionary nametags and Books of Mormon in their hands, they draw their missionary uncles and aunt, they draw Joseph Smith seeing an angel or holding the gold-plates or even as their missionary companion, mommy and daddy getting married in front of the Temple, what they will look like when they get baptized. These are treasures that I will save forever, and as I listen to them describe to me what’s going on in the pictures they’ve drawn, I am amazed at the insights they give and the wisdom they have already acquired. My oldsest, 8-yo, wrote down her testimony and passed it to me during sacrament meeting. Another time she wrote the story of the first vision and gave it to me. (She later used it as a talk in primary–and, of course, I put both in her journal). It seems to me that they are in a place where the spirit is, and their pure, spotless hearts can feel it easily and are being personally instructed by it. It also seems that the way I react to their unavoidable outbursts is what determines wether that spirit stays or leaves. Whatever your method, love should be its foundation. Perhaps an overlooked part of reverence at church is showing respect and, yes, reverence toward those little people who Christ said were the “greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,” and also toward all of his other grown-up children who are there to worship together. I know when I feel the spirit, I feel compassionate, cheerful, loving, optimistic, out-reaching, forgiving and light-hearted. How to teach or improve reverence in our own unique families should be guided by pray and personal revelation, and can of course be aided by conversations about what works for other familes. But maybe how we respond to another family’s perceived need for improvement–in any aspect really–should also be done with prayer and personal revelation. I think its awesome that I get to spend my sacrament meetings sitting next to six of the purest little wigglers in the building, and I will miss it SO MUCH when its gone.

  71. Amen! I a-gree with this whole post. I also wrote one on reverence on my blog http://mothers-who-know.blogspot.com/2012/01/teaching-our-children-to-be-reverent.html

    My question/concern is HOW do we help these young parents who themselves haven’t been trained to stick out church even if their children are being irreverent? I worry about the families that don’t give church a fair chance because they are tired of fighting with their irreverent children. They give up and go home.

  72. I totally agree with everything you said! I discovered some of this a few months ago and started bringing nothing to church for my kids (4 & almost 2) for Sacrament Meeting. The level of reverence in our family has dramatically increased since the change. Still not perfect and still working out the kinks, but *much* improved. I wrote a blog post about our A-ha too.

    Since the change, our most irreverent Sacrament Meetings have always been the ones in which we are sitting near other kids of similar ages. In those cases, my kids always want to hang over the pew to see/have their toys/snacks/books or the other kids offer them to my kids…. sigh.

  73. When my first two were little I would bring fruit snacks to help encourage them to sit quietly because I would give it to them part way through the meeting if they were doing good. Then one time I was visiting my dad who was in the stake presidency in the family wards at BYU-I and he mentioned that he gave a talk about how to make it through the meeting without Cheerios. I knew how we had been raised, 6 kids, no snacks, no coloring, and knew it was possible–for other people, but how was I supposed to do it with my kids. We quit the snacks cold turkey and my two little girls have never had a snack during Sacrament meeting.
    The most appalling/extreme case of snacks at church that I have seen is one time a mom a couple rows ahead of us handed her 4 year old half a pb&j sandwich, in comparrison a handful of fruit snacks doesn’t seem so bad.

  74. Oh, and I hate sitting in the back of the chapel. My husband LOVES to sit in the back. In fact, he loves the VERY back row.

    I on the other hand, like to sit anywhere from the middle to middle front. My kids seem to be much more reverent when sitting on a bench closer than when sitting on the set up chairs in the overflow.

    I’m comprimising for now. Every other week, I get to choose where we sit.

  75. My kids are 7,6, and 3. My rule has always been no snacks, or paper/crayons until after the sacrament part of sacrament. Toys have never been brought except for soft quiet toys for them when they were babies.

    I bring snacks usually about 1 time out of the month. It’s usually on a day that we are rushing to get to church on time.

    Now that the two kids are getting older, I feel like they definitely can make it through sacrament meeting without a snack.

    I’m on the fence about the no notepad/crayon thing. In a way, I think it makes the meeting easier for them, but I realize at the same time, they aren’t even trying to listen to the speaker when they are drawing. My older two like to open the hymn book to the right pages for us, and I think that is because I expect them to be quiet and try and listen the first half of the meeting. I will have to work on expecting them to be able to handle the whole meeting.

    Although, this got me to thinking. The other day my daughter sat down with a paper and pen and wrote down any of her sight words that she heard while listening to my music (which made me very glad I’ve chosen to not listen to songs with questionable lyrics.) Maybe a game of sorts for church? Listen to the talks and if you hear certain “key words”, then cross them off the paper.

    Anyway, I agree that reverence can be generational. My parents brought us to church 20 mins early to sit and listen to the prelude. We were taught to be quiet and only had paper and pen for any distraction.

    I just need to get my husband more on board of the helping kids be reverent. It’s not that he doesn’t care, but he is the type that falls asleep because it’s quiet. I have to poke him awake. He just usually doesn’t notice when the kids are getting out of hand for me. Yet, I have gotten compliments many times that my kids were well behaved during Sacrament. So I guess I’m doing something right. 🙂

    (Sorry, it got long. 🙂

  76. Traccie,
    I’m one of the fidgety people, too. ;o) I remember Pres Monson telling a those of us at the Legacy Theater one day that these are little bodies with a BIG spirit, so to be patient with them.

    One thing I do is keep a notebook in my scripture bag and take notes of the things that resonate with me. I have some great treasures in there that I love and cherish now. Maybe your close-to-the-spirit child could harness some of that by keeping a “sacrament journal” where he could take notes of the meeting or draw of picture of what he is feeling. That may break the paper and pencil/crayon rule, but I find it keeps me focused and gives me great things to reflect on later that I wanted to remember.

    My kids aren’t perfect. We did pretty good on these rules when they were little, but I still find my older ones drawing pictures on the programs and such. Even teenagers need reminding, so I’ve been grateful for this article. Will be a FHE lesson! ;o)

  77. Great post and I wish that others besides the “choir” would listen to this subject. It does apply to grownups too, we have a sister who crochets in Sacrament meeting and other meetings. Don’t know why she feels that is appropriate. Then there are the ones who are chasing their toddler up and down the aisles and thru the choir seats almost every week!

  78. Amen a hundred times, MMM! Now how do we get others on board? I mean, seriously, how do those of us who read this help make changes in our rowdy wards? We sit quietly week after week around people whose children run up and down the aisles or in and out of the chapel while they smile and laugh at how “cute” they are. But they sit and do nothing. It’s not just one family, it is several in our ward and it is so distracting.

    What do you recommend?

    1. Please don’t play the, “I wish this person could read this” game. Just start with yourself and be an example. As soon as we start over stepping our boundaries and pointing fingers, we then sin.

  79. Great post! Changing my FHE plans for tonight! My kids are 7 and 9 and do really well, but I now see room for bettering our reverence! Thank you as always.

  80. Tracie, we too sit on the back row, well the second to back row and on the side nearest the door. When my oldest two were small, I entreated my girlfriend to watch them for a few hours while I ran to a doctor’s appointment. When I returned, she said, “My kids look like they’re in a coma next to your’s!” Mind you, she had SIX children and my two were even spaced three years apart. Not ADHD, just busy and curious. My third, which came along six years later, has some special needs. They are physical. He grows painful bone tumors in nearly every joint of his body and lives with chronic pain. Massage and shifting position helps him cope with the pain rather than relying routinely on drugs. He also has, as you might imagine, an alarmingly deep testimony for a twelve year old born of introspection and the whole room sits up to listen when he bears his testimony. Anyone who doesn’t know him, however, would think he’s kind of rude and irreverent, especially for a kid old enough to “know better.” Rest assured that wiggly does get better, hopefully not to be replaced with teenage boredom or nap-time!

    M-AMM, I’m wondering how you would respond to Elder Packer’s assertion (October 1991, “Reverence Invites Revelation”) that it’s the father who should be handling that in-meeting “ushering?”

    “The reverence we speak of does not equate with absolute silence. We must be tolerant of little babies, even an occasional outburst from a toddler being ushered out to keep him from disturbing the peace. Unless the father is on the stand, he should do the ushering.” ~Boyd K. Packer

  81. GREAT post. I think many adults need to read and understand this, not just for their children, but for themselves. I recently played my violin with my trio for prelude for a regional womens conference… Silvia Allred was the speaker, so this was a pretty big deal. The raucous laughter and conversation was at such a high level during the prelude that we could hardly hear ourselves. I think it’s also important to mention that they had made a beautiful slide show of Christ with the occasional written reminder to please sit quietly and listen to the prelude, so the Spirit could be present. All I can conclude is that these poor sisters cannot read… I think that is a preferable alternative to knowing that they’re just plain rude. One of the girls in our trios finally went to the mic and asked all to use their “temple voices” for the remaining 10 minutes so we could reverently prepare for this conference. There was about 3 minutes of reverence, and then it was back to the noisy chatter and laughter and moving about again. It disgusted me… I am not sure I will agree to play prelude again after that experience. (Mostly because it wasn’t even close to the first time that had happened… more like the last straw).

    1. Mindy,
      I can relate to your prelude experience. I have been the ward organist for over 10 years. I was raised by loving parents who taught us respect and love for the Savior by being reverent. About a year ago, I stopped the prelude because the talking was so loud, I thought, why bother? Then the distinct impresssion came to me, “You are playing for ME”. Since then, I try to remember that the music is my way to show my love for my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And twice I have looked down and seen 1) an older brother with his arms folded and eyes closed, listening and smiling and 2) a 10 year-old girl (who is one of my piano students) with her arms folded, looking at the organ and listening, even with her family and others chatting away. Perhaps my contribution helped these two become closer to the Spirit. I know I would have LOVED your trio and I’ll bet many sisters did, even though it didn’t seem so. Don’t quit. You have a talent. 🙂

  82. I’ve been thinking a lot about worship lately: what it means, how I do it, etc. I think it doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to really work at it. As I do, I notice I don’t even have to think about reverence because that just comes with the territory. That doesn’t help with the little ones’ wiggles, but being mindful of worship (and using that word instead of reverence) seems to help my children (who are older) and me (I find I am as easily distracted as a little ‘un).

  83. Traccie: Yours is precisely the reason I included this: “Most kids can learn to be reverent – not all. Occasionally there is a child where the expectation is rightfully low, and mom and dad are just happy to make it through the block with a shred of sanity intact. I understand. I also have great sympathy for the mom wrestling the kids as dad sits on the stand.”

    Your son’s idea that being wiggly is a sin breaks my heart. Please don’t let him believe that! I haven’t found that anywhere in the gospel. (However the scriptures are full of references about not judging others – including wiggly boys)

    It sounds like you are both doing the very best you can, and I admire his focus and desire. Keep up the good work.

    1. Oh gee! Never a good idea to write a a comment while crying. Roll instead of row? Anyway, I do get where you are coming from, MMM. However, I would say that my expectations are not low. They are just different. I have had to re-define in my own mind and heart what reverence is. I often sing the song “Reverence is Love” to my children. The line “Reverence is more than just quietly sitting, It’s thinking of Father above.” My son is not, nor will he ever be one of those super quiet children, but he loves his Father in Heaven. What people don’t see is the long talks we have and “practicing” at home during scripture study and prayer. They don’t see his incredible desire to *be good*. Of course I told my cute boy that being wiggly was NOT a sin. I love him so much. I just wish everyone else could see the potential that I see in him.

    2. We have a wiggler at our house, too (and I fidget… which is why I always have a notebook, to channel the need to move into writing notes!) With our wiggler, my goal is to teach them to be quiet while they wiggle… so, manipulating putty, or doodling, or jiggling a foot back and forth all qualify, because it’s a silent coping mechanism. We sit where we’re least likely to be a visual disturbance. And we talk (at home) about why it’s important to keep practicing, and that just like muscles get stronger when we use them, our “still skills” will develop over time, too.

      Can I just say BRAVO to the whole reverence topic? It’s really reassuring to see other families also trying to minimize distractions, and teach even small kids! Because taking notes help me so much, we do encourage the kids to slip a small notebook or paper in with their scriptures, but that’s it for “entertainment.” I notice my kids tracing map routes with their fingers, just like I loved to do, and reading the hymnal, and looking up scriptures, and drawing a sketch of the current speaker… all things that help them focus, and stay more still, and be considerate.

      We have a family with a little fellow who has autism, and I think they do a fantastic job stretching his “still skills” over time. Sure, he’s not likely to ever be that little robot child, but they do get a lot of use having the Friend on an i-Pad for him, taking “art breaks” (they walk the halls and he tells them the details of every piece of gospel art on the walls)… and the poor kid has perfect pitch *and* sensory integration issues, so he is excused from music, out of kindness and compassion. 🙂

      Making small changes over time is SO worthwhile… not only can my kids be more reverent in church, but also in other public spaces, and the positive feedback just reinforces their desire to behave “like a grown-up” more frequently. LOVE it. (We also do the “what did you talk about” at Sunday dinner… big running family joke that the first response always has to be, “Jesus.”)

    3. Poor little guy with perfect pitch and sensory integration issues! He would be miserable in a Sacrament Meeting with me – I’m one of the ones who can “make a joyful noise”. I’m glad they take him out for that.

  84. Bleh! This post makes me want to throw myself on the bed and sob. There is a reason why we occupy the back roll of the chapel every Sunday and this is it. I have a little guy (almost 8) who doesn’t seem to be able to sit still at all. Your whole idea that it happens at school or watching tv, don’t hold water here. I homeschool my little guy for this very reason. He was miserable in school and always in trouble. He hated it. I really don’t want him to hate church too. BTW we don’t take snacks or books or toys, or anything else. We don’t get up to use the restroom for anyone but the 4 year old. But we are still a wiggly family, with most of the wiggles coming from this one child. The thing is he loves the Lord. He loves the Savior. He loves the church. Yesterday he asked me if his “sin of being wiggly would be forgiven” when he was baptized. I cried. My little guy things he is bad because he wiggles, but if you ask him at the end of Sacrament what it is about, he can tell you. I wonder how many adults could do the same. I did read this post, even though I knew it would probably hurt. I do want my children to be reverent, but not at the expense of their tender spirits.

  85. I agree! I just taught a lesson in RS about how to keep those wiggly toddlers quiet at church and it went over pretty well. I turned it into a blog post.
    My question for you is on how to deal with the grumpy empty-nesters who don’t remember what its like to have young children around. It broke my heart Sunday to walk in to RS and overhear one sister complaining to another- “Those reverence tips sure were needed in our meeting today! Those noisy kids were all around me! There was one in front of me and behind me and across the aisle. Someone needs to teach those mothers about taking care of their kids!”
    Those mothers in question were 1. a recent convert to the church who was attending with her children for only the second time, trying to teach her children, who had never been in a chapel before, to sit through a meeeting and 2. a grandmother who was bringing her granddaughter to church because the mother was inactive and wouldn’t do it, and was again trying to teach an inexperienced child how to behave, with no examples or resources to draw on. I prayed that the women she was talking about were out of the room and didn’t hear her, because they would most likely not return to church for a long time. And we would rather have them loud in the chapel than not there at all.
    The only thing I could think of was to ask her what she had done, in a spirit of love and sisterhood,to help the struggling families around her as a wiser, older sister and stellar reverence example. She had no reply and thankfully was quiet the rest of the prelude.

  86. I loved how you talked about the generational respect thing. My husband came hard-wired with this from his family, and I love him for it. I have five children with ASD. We have rules durng sacrament. They get nothing but their scriptures until after the bread/water portion of the meeting is over. They dont know any differently than that and they have never fought us on it. If one of them dtarts getting anxious we have them carefully watch the trays and where they are going, and think about what is happening- it works everytime. After that, they get a piece of paper and a pen/pencil- no toys-no food. We have found that for my kids, they actually focus better when they doodle. but they have sit in their seats. When we can see that anxiety levels are rising, they get a potty break, but it is really just to give them a minute to stretch. They can as much back stratching and ear rubbing (my son) as I can manage and still listen to what is being said. I have a limit. They know it. I get asked all the time how we do it. My thought is that we expect it. As a result our house is quiet also. We have had Autism evaluators amazed at how quiet our house is. We have our days- and meltdowns, and tantrums- but my kids prefer revernce and quiet and they feel better when we have it- so they pick it. The Lord will tell your family what works, and how to follow him. The fruits are always peace.

    1. I have ADD, which is part of the autism spectrum. And for people who have a brain like mine coloring/doodling/fidgeting actually helps in concentrating. I am able to listen more closely, obtain more information, make better correlations and connections between what is being taught and previous knowledge. You can find me bouncing a leg or two during any meeting, including the temple- because it’s what I NEED to get the most out any learning environment. (heck i’m doing it right now as I try to organize my thoughts!) As a child we had the rule, like your family Shantel, that no paper or pens or quiet books till after the sacrament- because that IS the most IMPORTANT part afterall. And we had age restrictions- no books for anyone over 8, by 12 no crayons, and by 15 no paper or pen. For us it was necessary to have a gradual decrease.

  87. When my young ones act up I take them to a dark room. In this building it is the scout closet. I sit them down or hold them in the quiet and dark. And I don’t talk to them. It doesn’t take long for them to decide sacrament meeting is a more attractive option than an unhappy silent mother.

  88. MMM,

    I have 6 kids 8 years old and younger and another on the way. I respectfully disagree with the ban on coloring books/quiet books, but I respect you enough to take a good hard look at how my family can improve in reverence. There’s definitely more we can do. By the way, while there’s more that parents of small children can do to teach their children reverence, there’s also more that adults can do to ignore the inevitable lapses of reverence. Nothing drives the Spirit out of a meeting like somebody getting angry at the irreverent children in front of them. Jesus “suffered the children” and so should we.

    1. I agree with your thoughts about people getting worked up about the kids – they just need to chill.

      My experience with coloring books is that they become the focus for all the kids on the row. And before you know it, they are climbing under the pews looking for the crayon they dropped – distracting people on all sides. More importantly, the colorers are no longer focusing on what is being said… Your kids are probably different.

    2. My kids are not immune to fighting over anything, but so far coloring books and drawing seem to keep them the quietest the longest. I’m not sure anything could get them to pay attention to the speakers the whole time, and at least they can listen while they draw. I’ve doodled my way through many a work meeting and still managed to glean the important information. Here’s a quick shoutout to some of the older couples in our ward who INTENTIONALLY sit by us every Sunday to help us with our kids. I hope to pay it forward some day.

    3. We worked our kids gradually out of coloring books to one clipboard per kid with plain printer paper and a pen. They come up with all sorts of things depending on their various ages – drawing, notes on the talk, their own puzzles and mazes. I think the idea is to gradually wean kids off of their distractions and make sure they understand the reason they are sitting there in the chapel – “it isn’t playtime,” I tell our kids.

  89. I remember as a kid being so jealous of the other kids that got to have snacks. Mom was firmly against it. I had one sacrament meeting where I entertained myself the entire meeting with a kleenex tissue since we also did not bring toys.

    Since I wanted to be different, I started letting my kids play quietly, read books and have soft quiet snacks but not until after the sacrament. FAIL. Quickly learned, that less distraction, less noise. Period. And since there is generally nothing to do, they end up listening, even as young as when they can understand language.

    We went from just learning how to be quiet and then as they got older with more understanding, we explained and transitioned the behavior to reverence. It’s now fun to see my son do the same for his daughter.

    Funny side note: when the boys were all in their “older than 5 but not a teen years” – we had a real issue with reverence during a family home evening lesson. They boys were informed that clearly they needed to practice being reverent. So we had family home evening EVERY SINGLE NIGHT until they could develop the habit. They were also the ones that had to prepare and teach the lesson. It only took about 2 weeks, and we never had the problem agsin : )

  90. Great post, MMM. And I agree.

    We hae always (ALWAYS) sat in the second row of the chapel. (My wife is a ward organist, and her mother before her — that family tradition thing…) Sitting up front helps us avoid a lot of distractions.

    I’m an old softie for the under-three crowd, and I have ZERO tolerance for the over-18 crowd. (We had a stake president in Venezuela who sent a written message to a sister in our ward (I was bishop) who was chatting away in sacrament meeting, asking her to please be quiet.)

    A youth conference speaker read Matthew 26:40: “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” He pointed out that sacrament meeting is about an hour, and surely the youth could “watch with Him” during that hour instead of needing to leave for whatever reason.

    A powerful lesson.

  91. I really enjoyed reading this post!

    We also found years ago that snacks for our family meant MORE noise, fights, complaints, etc., as do toys and writing paraphernalia. (We’re still working on eliminating the books for the little ones. Thanks for inspiring me!)

    The bathroom trips for little ones… We’ve got room for improvement there.

    I want to echo the importance of TEACHING reverence. We’ve found that it helps our younger ones to come home and practice sitting quietly on the couch for a period of time– five or ten minutes. I especially take the time to do this if we’ve had a noisy Sabbath. I have to be careful not to lecture them as they sit. Total silence is needed, other than the corrections I have to make. (Sit up, be modest, etc.. We have four little girls ages 6 and under. Oy!)

    I also have to echo the comment about foyer behavior. Sometimes the littlest ones have to be taken out to the foyer. My husband likes to be the one to do this because he feels very strongly about not making foyer time a reward. The child still has to sit on Daddy’s lap and doesn’t get to run all over the halls. The foyer is simply a place to keep training little ones who still need a sound barrier from the meeting.

    TRAINING our children is so very important! If we will take the time and effort needed when our children are small, we will be so thankful when they’re older and their habits are more ingrained.

    Thanks for a great post, MMM! 🙂

  92. My biggest pet peeve is the i-things!

    I hate that people “need” to have their iphones, itouch and ipads at church. Bring your scriptures! Bring your lesson manuals, bring your hard copy things. It is far too easy to become distracted and irreverant with an i-thing there in your lap.

    Funny/Sad story –

    A good friend was sitting next to my DH in sunday school yesterday and hit the “read” function on the scripture he was reading. OUT LOUD the itouch started reading 1st Nephi. While it was the scriptures, and gave everyone a laugh…it was still right in the middle of the teachers lesson and rather distracting from the spirit.

    When your children are playing angry birds instead of listening to the talks that have been prepared (which are usually HOURS to prepare) or texting their friend in the middle of priesthood (happened here), they are not feeling the spirit or being reverant.

    Children are so smart, they can sit, they can listen, and they can learn. We just have to expect it from them and guide them to it.

    Loved this post. Thank you for posting it MMMM. (sorry I got long winded here)

    1. I am conflicted about this one. The technology has been embraced by every visiting General Authority I have seen as of late. They all sit with their iPads open on their laps, and use them while they are speaking. It is great technology – in the right hands. I ask that my SS kids bring their actual printed scriptures to class, so they get a feel for them, especially those looking to serve missions – but I feel it is a losing battle.

    2. I have both and here’s my take. I bring my ipod touch with scriptures to church because I’ve got too many other things and little ones to carry around (mom to 7 under 11). So much lighter than a quad. However I personally cannot ‘study’ my scriptures in electronic format. I have to be able to flip pages, follow footnotes, and be able to turn back and forth checking wording differences in similar scriptures, etc. I also have a notebook and pen in hand during study. So other than for the brief 3 hours I’m at church I use my printed scriptures.

    3. In my first Sunday teaching the 7 year-olds I had a really rough time with one of the boys. I texted my friend who had had the class before me and asked what his issues were, what I could do to help him, etc. This was all during singing time. The Primary president then texted me to tell me that I shouldn’t be texting.

      Singing Time is the bane of my existance! I already know the songs, let’s just admit that it’s babysitting, OK? So I texted the Pres back and told her that I would try not to text very often but if she didn’t like it she could fire me (they’d been trying to fill the calling for months and I knew it).

      And that right there is why I’ll be going to the Terrestrial Kingdom.

    4. @Hildie, As a musical person, I’d like to say that I’d like to see ALL of primary be laced with music. It is the ONLY thing I remember about primary. It taught me the gospel and I felt the spirit while singing the songs. I remember the names of all the primary choristers and not one primary teacher or other leader (well, maybe one!) Music is very powerful if used in the right way. Just my 2 cents!

    5. I agree with you, I don’t remember ANY Primary lessons, but the songs are what I do remember and they teach doctrine.

      If it’s okay for teachers to text during singing time why isn’t it okay for the kids to do it? I love the quote “Your example is speaking so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

    6. I love this article and these comments. I just have to share an experience regarding the iPhones/iPads.

      We recently had a stake conference adult session in which our stake president asked us to stop using any electronic devices in sacrament meeting. I was a completely taken aback at first. I know for a fact that the brethren have a use iPhones and iPads (I don’t know that they use them in sacrament meeting). I LOVE bringing my iPhone to church. I can’t believe how handy it is. I use it for the scriptures, my primary manual, to record promptings, and even to show great lds video clips to my primary class, and I had never felt bad about bringing it before. I felt like it was God’s way of making church simpler, and not having to bring a huge bag to church.

      (The best part was that after his talk, the stake president announced a Q&A session to follow his remarks. He turned a chalkboard around at the front of the chapel which had an email address and a phone number written in huge letters (and numbers) and asked us to pull out our phones and text or email our questions anonymously. We were all just laughing. He stood up there with his iPad and answered the questions as they came in. It was brilliant. He realized how silly it seemed, and it was all pretty light-hearted. Apparently he’d seen similar methods in meeting with the brethren and had seen how effective it was.)

      A lot of the questions were about using devices for churchy stuff in sacrament meeting and different justifications for doing so. The stake president simply said no. He said that we can use them in classes (and apparently adult sessions of stake conference!), but that it was generally distracting to those around us in sacrament meeting. I think he’s 100% right. Sacrament meeting is different from every other meeting, and I think it deserves a different kind of respect and reverence.

      My husband and I discussed the fact that you can either follow your church leaders or not, and stay active or gradually drift away, and we decided to stop using our phones in church – a seriously difficult decision for me.

      ***This was the direction to one stake, so I’m not suggesting that everyone should do this***

      I have since left my phone at home on Sundays (my husband brings his but doesn’t use it in sacrament meeting anymore- just for emergencies and to tell the time – who wears a watch anymore?!) I bring my hard copies, which is a pain, and I have to bring a big ol’ bag with me now – I can’t stand lugging everything around! The sacrifice has been completely worth it though. I bring a notebook to write my impressions, and I look things up in my huge mission set of scriptures.

      I have seriously felt a difference in what I get out of church. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re on the edge about it, try giving up your phone for those three (or even one) hours a week. It’s refreshing and it’s not going to kill you.

      We joke about how now we won’t use phones in church… at least in this stake. Were moving this week and I’ve seen such a change that I’m carrying this on forever.

    7. Hildie, as a primary teacher many times over, primary president 3 times, mother of four, grandmother of eight, in my not-so-humble opinion, music is the most important thing in Primary. The children (especially the younger ones) may not be able to tell mom and dad what they learned in Primary, but they can virtually always sing a song they worked on that day. And every song, with the exception of “Once There Was a Snowman” and that type, teach them a principle we want them to know. FWIW, I’d like to see the “activity” songs not used at all in Singing Time, but that’s just me. When used appropriately, for “wiggle” time, it can work. But I’m with MMM – if we expect them to pay attention and participate, they generally do, even the ADHD ones.

  93. Agree Agree Agree … I have people tell me I am very fortunate to have reverent kids !!! NO !!! They were taught to be reverent, thinking they will teach themselves is the first mistake..
    As for techniques.
    With mine when younger, if they got irreverent I or Mrs RJR would take the offender out and sit them on our knee in a classroom. No running around the corridors. It didn’t take long for them to realise being in sacrament was far more freedom. Yes it is harder if a lone parent, much of our success is Mrs RJRs, as I have spent many a year sat on the stand. The latter years it has been my job though, as she is often attending other wards as a Stake leader.

  94. We have always had the rule with our four kids that if you need to leave Sacrament Meeting to use the bathroom, you forfeit your Sunday dessert. I do not think there has been one time in almost 18 years that anyone has had to go THAT bad. Interesting.

  95. What a great post! I love it. We use a lot of your techniques and we have four children who are almost always reverent at church.

    Another technique that we used started when our first child was a baby. My mother in law suggested that if she became too loud or disruptive during sacrament meeting, that we should immediately take her out of the chapel and find a quiet place, like an empty classroom or closet. Instead of letting her wander the halls, visiting with the other children that had been taken out of sacrament meeting or playing in the foyer with a toy, we would just sit in the classroom/closet doing absolutely nothing. Our first baby soon learned that it was much more interesting to be in sacrament meeting than sitting in a room doing nothing. This technique worked with all four of our children and we rarely have to take any other them out anymore, including our two year old.

  96. I’m interested to read your technique! We’re working on reverence and it seems to be a never-ending process because we keep having sweet babies…LOL. Right now we have 7 children age 10 and under. 2 are girls and 5 are boys – 4 of those boys are age 4 and younger. We currently do bring plain paper and crayons, plus a snack. My husband and I were just talking about keeping snack for right after Sacrament meeting instead of during. I think that will be our first tactic to try!

  97. A little comic relief . . . .

    Although my children were very reverent (perhaps I should say quiet) in church (I agree that it is multi-generational) my hugest problem was and is my husband. He loves to play with the kids during church. I’ve been a church organist for 30 years (started at 15!) and I’d watch my kids and husband silently, very silently interacting and playing with each other, while other families around them were seemingly sitting soldier tall and gleaning every word that the speakers were saying. I’d send the evil eye to my husband . . . and even go sit with them to separate the offending husband from the children. Too funny! but real.

    Culture (which could be considered tradition) has a big play in reverence. I live on the east coast (DC area) where church (besides ours) consists of loud music, loud people, interaction with the preacher and so forth . . . . it is a huge culture shock to join our church and have to sit quietly . . . . etc. etc. This is the most irreverent ward I’ve ever lived in, but also the one where I’ve felt the most loved and included. Interesting . . . . .

  98. Great ideas, and ones we’ve used. I still remember when our stake president asked that no food at all be brought into the chapel (and that included Cheerios for toddlers). I thought there was no way my preschoolers would last through sacrament meeting, but I decided it was more important to be obedient. Guess what? They survived. Our youngest two never had sacrament meeting treats, and it hasn’t harmed them at all.

    And our “technique” for teaching reverence was the Reverence Chair. Every reminder during the meeting equaled 1-5 minutes (depended on age) sitting in a chair at home practicing being reverent. At home the timer restarted and/or increased for every noise or poke. We also deliberately called family scripture study a church meeting so that our five young boys (and then their baby sister) could have additional practice with reverence. It works.

    Philosophy, Tradition, Expectations – I like it. Thanks.

  99. Thank you for this excellent article! I agree with everything you said. I thought I was the only one that actually noticed the same teenagers and children going out of Sacrament Meeting every Sunday. I have passed your column on to others, in the hope that they will agree with me and you and something may get done about it. Thanks again!

  100. My kids are older and I have no problems with their reverence at church. I do notice that many parents let their children wander the chapel and only go get them if they are running up on the stand. To me, that is distracting. The worst to me was being at a sealing where most of the group was so loud speaking and laughing in the waiting room and in the sealing room that the workers asked several times for them to be more reverent. Sad.

  101. Tawnya: My technique isn’t going to be much help to you, given your circumstances. You do have a tough situation. I do have a tiny suggestion for you: Ask your YW president if there is a YW who might be able/willing to sit with you at church and be your helper – in case one of the kids needs to go out or something. If not a YW, an older couple that could be “grandparently” with your boys. Kids usually seem to behave better when someone non-family is sitting next to them. Just a thought.

    1. I agree with this one, MMM, but I feel like you have to be a little careful with it. Tawnya: If you can get someone to sit with you, make sure they are the reverent type. We have an older couple and their 2 late-teen-agers sit with us.. and I’m contemplating trying out being on my own with the 3 again (my husband is not a member either.) I really appreciate the help this family has given, especially by staying with my older two when I have to take the youngest out, but I feel like our reverence level took a nose dive since we’ve been sitting with them.

    2. I love this suggestion, and need to work harder on doing it (with the right people). I have had people help before (because they were great and volunteered or accidently ended up sitting by us). However, I’m torn between appreciating their help, and feeling guilty that 1) I can’t do it on my own (need to swallow some pride) and 2) my helpers can no longer really pay attention to the meeting. But it’s a good step to take that will allow me to “wean” them off the distraction bag.

    3. My husband is also inactive but our ward has a lot of older couples in it. I sit next to a very sweet couple who have no grandchildren of their own. Every Sunday she holds my littlest on her lap and tells him the sweetest things about how much his Heavenly Father loves him. I am so grateful for their help. I could not make it through Sacrament without them.

    4. When I was in young women’s there was a family with a single mom who had 4 squirmy kids, and I volunteered to sit and help her out during sacrament meeting, later my yw president said it would count as a yw project, so maybe speak to the yw president about her talking to the yw and finding someone suitable for you, and they would also get the added benefit of working towards their yw in excellence award

  102. Over time I’ve realized for myself that the snacks and toys are just a distraction and end up being thrown or ground into the carpet. I’ve been slowly taking it all away and trying to teach my kids to just sit and listen. I’m totally with you on this one! I spend every Sacrament meeting in the hall with my almost 2 year old in a death grip on my lap. He screams and throws a fit the whole time, but I think eventually he’ll learn! I quietly sing him primary songs and show him the pictures around the walls and that distracts him- but no running around!
    As a relief society teacher I wish everyone would just bring a real hard copy of the scriptures and manuals. When I’m not teaching I notice that the people with gadgets out are quite often texting someone else in the room or surfing the web or some such silliness instead of using it for scriptures. So, when I teach I assume that they are just goofing off on their gadgets and ignoring me and the lesson I’ve prepared.

  103. We do the same thing with our little ones. We have since day one, which has made our expectations clear to them. And if they act up, we go out and practice being reverent, but since we practice at home during scriptures and family home evening, we only have to take them out maybe once a year (after the age of 2). Our three year old gets ONE potty break if needed, even though he goes before sacrament, but the reasons for that should be obvious, we don’t want the bench to get wet.
    Thank you for the post, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who don’t let our kids bunny hop across the benched during sacrament meeting or watch looney tunes on the Ipad!

  104. Mindelicious: There is a 10-minute break between meetings. Go out to the car, have a yummy snack, take her back to sharing time or class – a couple minutes late, if necessary. It won’t interfere with the meetings, or anyone else. (Just an idea)

  105. Dang. I really love your post, although it means I have to change…. everything…. we do in sacrament meeting. My husband is not a member, and I have 3 boys (4, 3, and 1) so my main goal has been survival. So yes. Toys. Snacks. Books. Coloring books. ANYTHING that will get us through sacrament. However, it just creates distractions for them and me, and mostly my husband when he randomly attends with us, so seriously. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to hear your technique!

    1. I am in your same boat!! My 3 boys are 5,3 and 1 and my husband is a nurse and paramedic so he has to work a lot of Sundays!! It is really hard, but I am cleaning out my “church bag” today! I am going to try taking nothing!

    2. I am in the same boat, I have church books, coloring pages, mazes, friend magazines… anything to keep them busy but trying to stay church themed. But I am still pulling my hair out because they are still noisy, bouncing from one activity to another and a distraction for me for sure trying to keep them busy. I like this idea but super nervous to just quite cold turkey. I have a 6, 4 and 2 year old. I love the table idea for the 2 year old but what about the 4 and 6 year old when they are being too noisy? What kind of discipline tools should I use when they are not sitting quietly like I expect?

    3. I used to say that my husband was inactive-really he traveled for work and was on the high council. If he was in our ward he was sitting on the stand. I had 5 kids in 8 years. My sweet VT had a teenage daughter that would sit with us. It made all the difference just to have another body there. An older lady in the ward loved to hold my baby. They formed some sweet friendships with my kids and I didn’t have to do it myself. Now we are up to 8 kids and my husband is still on the stand every week, but I have 3 teenage girls that are often asked to help other moms. We had a jar of marbles they would fill up for being reverent. Also they would only get a treat after sacrament meeting if they were good. One day I made my boy sit on the couch at home for as long as it took him to get under control in church. They pick up on things pretty quick. I still say friend magazines are great for younger kids, though.

  106. Excellent insights and suggestions. And I’m amazed. You have put into words what I have long suspected. I was teaching a lesson in RS. Two women were chatting (loudly) on the front row. One of whom was the Stake Relief Society president, who happened to live within the boundaries of our ward. It was the single worst teaching moment of my life. NOTHING would shut the two of them up. Quietly standing in front of them and waiting. Asking them questions. Shushing them. Then I noticed that the SRSP’s daughter was chatting away during YW. Huh. The apple fell outta that tree and right into a hole at the roots.

  107. I have agreed with everything you have ever written, until…the snack. I can’t expect my 3 year old to go 4+ hours without food. We have 11:00 am church. We have to be there early because I have the bulletin. I can’t feed her any later then 10:00 and still get her in clothes and out the door in time. She doesn’t want to eat any earlier anyway. My seven and ten year old can handle it, but skipping a three year old’s nap and meal, it’s too much. By the third hour she’d be a mess for her Sunbeam teacher. What am I supposed to do? Honestly, I’m asking for suggestions. Hungry kids are not reverent kids.

    1. In our ward we have snack in nusery and in Sunbeams. Maybe suggesting to your primary presidency that the class falls right at lunch time, could they possibly provide a snack. I have been in 3 seperate wards that all do this.

      And what sunbeam teacher isn’t looking for something else to occupy that time…the lesson is not going to take the whole time with those wiggly 3 year olds. 🙂

    2. String cheese and taquitos in the car. There are tons of food that are mess free and can be eaten on the way out the door or in the car.

      To me, eating in church is the ultimate no-no.

    3. Great suggestion! I hadn’t thought of feeding her during the break. That’ll actually be much easier. I’ll do it.

      I was distressed to read a lot of this type of talk in the comments here:
      “Well there’s a family in our ward and this one time I saw the mom do this, that and the other…!”

      That’s just plain unkind. It’s not okay to speak that way about someone in your ward family, even anonymously. Remember, charity “thinketh no evil.” Just because child-rearing is your talent doesn’t mean that it’s as easy for Sis. So-n-so. She may be doing the absolute best she can given the talents and skills she posesses. If she’s like me, she’s disappointed and surprised by how little comes naturally to her as a mother, and she has to work to find joy in parenting every day. Who can know the human heart but God? Don’t judge her by the yardstick intended for you.

      An overarching problem I see in the membership of the church is how unwilling we are to give each other a break in matters big and small. And sometimes the safe anonymity of the blogging world tempts us to give voice to our ugliest thoughts.

    4. Maybe I should rephrase (since I am anonymous). I don’t speak behind peoples back. I spoke to the wife directly, I feel bad for her. She is a convert and doing her best to teach her kids, but her husband comes from a family that has a long history of being disrespectful/irreverent in Sacrament Meeting. My husband’s best friend’s ex-sister-in-law is the sister of the husband in my ward (can you follow that? lol) and he has told me many stories about his ex-SIL, like, the children were playing under the piano on the stand and the ex-SIL would go play with them. People in their ward would ask the best friend to do something, but what can you do if this is the 4th generation tradition of bad behavior in Sacrament Meeting.

    5. “I told the mother that if he cannot be reverent in Sacrament Meeting, then how is he going to be reverent INSIDE THE TEMPLE for baptisms?”

      I would like to know how that was at all helpful. That comes across condescending and hurtful, and if I was that woman I’d probably go home and cry. I’m not sure why you even chose to bring this family up. She may come across this blog one day and know it is referring to her, and how is *that* helping? Even if she never sees this,it’s still back biting and gossiping, whether you said a specific name or not.

      “I don’t speak behind peoples back. I spoke to the wife directly.” What do you call talking about her on here?!? Whether you said all this to her face or not, you are still talking behind her back NOW. Unless of course you copied and pasted this in an email and sent it to her???

      Share your own experiences of how you helped your OWN family, focus on improving yourself, and leave the corrections up to the bishop or other leaders. Not your place.

      That being said… I wondered about the snacks as well. I always hate getting out the bags of pretzels or goldfish during church, especially fast Sunday. We have 9am church and my hubby isn’t always there to help get kids ready. (He’s a military, resident/doctor. That combo=gone a lot.) So, in order to get there on time we often miss breakfast. However, I like the idea of feeding them in the car, since we have a 30 min. drive to church. Hmm…now to figure out a mess free breakfast option for the car, that I can prepare the night before.

      All-in-all, this post has given me a lot to think about.

    6. True. And now I shall apply that advice myself and “Stop it”. 😀 I have to say though, I am really glad I came across this post. The comments are all very interesting. All the different perspectives. I like that you shared your own experience and what worked for you and your family. It gave me a lot to think about and ideas of how to improve my own church experience with my own sweet, wiggly, little ones.

    7. I agree with so much of what you said. My 5 kids are good kids and we have a tradition of reverence, we do the drink before sacrament, they all go to the bathroom etc. But my nearly 7 year old who has ADHD just cannot sit still for that long without some sort of distraction. He can either look at The Friend or draw on some paper. He doesn’t get to go out, he doesn’t get toys but sometimes we need to cut people some slack for things we may not know about in their lives. If people have a long tradition of irreverence how are they supposed to know how to teach their children? Our role should be love and support and an example to them. Judgement is not ours to give so STOP IT.

    8. Michelle-Would your children eat dry cereal out of baggies in the car during your drive? It’s a favorite for my kids…even the 8yr old. You could mix it up and use something like fruit loops, berry kix, or something they don’t often get but not so sugary that it’s all over the place by the time you get to church.

    9. Cheryl: I mentioned in a different post that I was one of those wiggly kids. You are right – everyone has their own challenges. I hope as you read the comments yo can sift through the ones that can bless your life, and ignore the ones you want.

    10. Michelle, thanks for your comment. Maybe I’m one of the irreverent ones at church:-). I was relieved whenever we could make it through the full sacrament meeting without taking my toddler out. He’s much better now, but there are still times we have to take him out. Snacks, yes, I bring them. I bring them to buy us time where he is occupied, and I don’t feel bad about it one bit. I don’t bring activities(books, crayons), yet it’s out of not having enough time in the morning to put it together. I also sneak some bites of my sons snacks in sacrament (I’m pregnant). I grew up with ADHD so maybe my expectation isn’t high enough. Yet I’m there, and trying my best. I loved the STOP IT! I don’t feel judged at church, yet maybe it’s because I don’t care?

    11. I completely agree. Physically, it is just a struggle for toddlers and preschoolers to go that long. Having studied child development, the children will not only behave, but participate and learn better when their basic needs are met. Full tummies are very important for this age range.
      My three year old is in sunbeams and they don’t get snacks. My 20 month old is in nursery and he DOES get snacks. So we usually pack a protein filled snack- protein helps give the body a “full” feeling- with a carbohydrate and fruit and just the three year old gets it before we take him to primary.
      Last week I became his sunbeam teacher, so the first thing I instituted was snacks once we got to class third hour (still stretching it a bit) and he no longer gets his snack before primary, but we make sure to give him a similar snack on the way to church.
      good luck!!

    12. It’s an hour. 70 minutes tops.

      Even a nursing baby doesn’t need to feed every hour. Snacks are great, but no kids needs a non-stop inflow of food. Constant munching is more about boredom and distraction than hunger. I agree that you need to meet their “basic needs” first, then bring them to sacrament meeting. (Full tummies and empty bladders can also make for sleepy kids) Then let them have snacks between meetings, in the car, in the hall, in sunbeams, in nursery, or wherever.

      I am somewhat glad that we are past this stage with our 5 kids, but I do miss them being young.

    13. I guess I was thinking more the big picture. I perhaps should of made it clear who I ‘completely agreed with’. I don’t think snacks are necessary during sacrament meeting. It’s something our last Bishop really pushed- the elimination of snacks in the chapel. So we stopped, over a year ago, as most everyone in our ward did, and it’s been fine. 10-3 is a long time to go for little ones and hope that they function well. For the sake of the previous sunbeam teachers one of us would duck into the kitchen really quick to give him, for example, a cheese stick, a couple of raisins and a couple of crackers before taking him to primary. Something that only takes a few minutes to eat. I don’t want to feed him so much that he is stuffed and his body is releasing melatonin and making him sleepy. Just trying to keep those glucose levels steady and tantrums at bay.

      I appreciate the article. I had my husband read it and we have decided to re-evaluate some things, which is really the kind of thing I think this article is for. I don’t think you think everyone should do it exactly like you-no one’s situation is exactly like yours, but if there are things here that help a person take a second look at your their attitude towards reverence and what they can improve upon with their kids- then great! Glean what you can from it.

    14. We’re talking a lot about how long kids can go without food. Maybe we should look at the food that we’re feeding them. A quick bowl of cold cereal in the morning isn’t going to cut it. Now, we don’t need a full pancake and bacon breakfast, but a cooked oatmeal or multigrain cereal with some juice or fruit will keep kids full for a long time. Kids in Nursery get a snack. Otherwise, I think the kids will be ok. We have a culture of constant snacking in the US and tend to underestimate what our kids can do. Plus, the less they snack the more likely they are to eat good lunches and dinners 🙂

    15. I agree with Melissa on the quality of food we are feeding our kids. We have 9am church and I make sure to serve eggs that morning! Whole wheat waffles too. My kids are 4, 2, and 1 and they can only make it about and hour and a half after cold cereal but can last a full 3 after protein and some fiber. The baby does snack 3rd hour still 🙂

  108. I think you are completely right about reverence running in families. There is a family in our stake {with branches of the family in several wards} that do not have reverent children. It is definitely a family “culture” they have developed.

    Not to brag or anything either {ha!} but having to sit with my nine kids while my husband is on the stand every Sunday made me nervous at first. Until I realized they are reverent children. I have had to take my toddler out a total of four times in the 3 1/2 years my husband has been the bishop. Of course, having the irreverent family sit behind us every Sunday also skews how reverent mine actually are sometimes. A blessing in disguise?

    I’ve learned my younger ones watch my older ones. So really I was lucky in teaching my older three really well about reverence. We don’t do snacks, potty-breaks, or toys either. They’ve also learned I am serious with any threats. I actually follow through with discipline. This is one of my beefs with the family behind me. I hear the mother saying over and over and over again what is going to happen if they do such-and-such one more time and ten times later she is still just threatening but not following through.

    I think pointing out when the Spirit is being felt also helps in reverence. I can tell when one of my children is feeling something, especially my younger ones, so I quietly let them know they are feeling the Spirit and it was because they were listening. Makes them feel good about themselves and want to do it again.

    1. Chocolate, you reminded me of another something I try to do. If I can help it, I will not sit near families with children around the same age as mine. I’ve done it a few times, and every time I end up wanting to kick myself for thinking it would be fine.

    2. Following through is SO IMPORTANT!

      So many people ask me how I have such well behaved children and I just tell them that we have expectations, with clear rewards/disipline and they know how to behave. It seems such a hard thing for so many to understand.

    3. Oh my goodness gracious! You are describing a family in our neck of the woods! The branch that is in our ward has a son that is going to be 12 in August and he is the worst of their four kids!!! I told the mother that if he cannot be reverent in Sacrament Meeting, then how is he going to be reverent INSIDE THE TEMPLE for baptisms?

    4. This is a great article. I really appreciate the suggestions by the author and those leaving comments. I have to agree with Mindelicious – I am probably one of those that people think my kids aren’t reverent “enough” – not horrible, but not sitting still the whole time and we definitely use snacks/toys. One of the issues is the conflict of opinions between myself and my husband on child-rearing techniques. If I was doing it by myself we’d be a lot more disciplined and consistent:) Together we just do the best we can, and this article will be a great talking point between us. I look forward to working on it as a family.

    5. Your comment made me smile. I know that my family got a lot better at being reverent and getting to church on time as soon as I started siting on the stand. In retrospect, I think I may have been the bad influence.

  109. My older two (4.5 and 3.5) have been pretty good about sitting quietly, but it feels like, recently, things are getting a little out of hand. And then there’s my baby (21 mo.) who is nothing like the other two. He is restless and wiggly. Sacrament meeting is right at nap time, and he won’t sleep anywhere but his bed. Today he was mighty noisy, and we were in the foyer for most of the meeting. But I don’t let him run around. I sit him on my lap and make him stay. I think letting a kid run around after you leave the chapel just encourages them to be rowdy so that they can get out of the meeting.

    1. yes! I see kids misbehave in sacrament because they know if they cause a fuss, mom or dad will take them to the nursery so they can play with toys! Not my kids. My kids get to go to a classroom and sit in a chair until they calm down…and then we go back to sacrament. They don’t get to play, so they want to go back to where everyone is. We have 5 kids…8,5,5,4,and 2. My two year old is a handful, he’s not quiet at all…he is learning that going out means sitting down…my only hope is he learns this quickly so I can stay in sacrament meeting!

    2. The general statement that it crosses generations is true to an extent. My children are very very reverent…while the rest of my nieces and nephews…not so much. So there is always an exception to the rule.

      My dad was inactive my entire childhood and my parents had 11 kids. So it was kids watching kids during Sacrament while mama cried the entire time because she fought with my Dad about him not going to church…trying to get him to go. We weren’t all reverent during every meeting. Then, when my Dad did come, my mom was so overjoyed that she sat as a giddy little school girl right by his side and whispered to him..while yet again..kids watched kids.

      With that said, my sisters to try very hard to get their kids to be reverent, in the ways they can..or in the ways the see as important.

      My mom…I don’t condemn for her her behavior while my Dad was there. She loved him so much and it made her so happy when he would go..YEARS later..we are all sealed in the temple and my Dad’s attendance in church is sometimes better than her’s.

      My sisters are great moms and have great kids…they just don’t act very reverent during sacrament.

      My children…I have slipped. All my kids were so good. Then I had child #5. He is crazy, unruly, wild and aggressive. My first four are all laid back and easy going. This child is my challenge. By the time my other children turned 12 months, they learned and wanted to be on their knees with us during prayer and sit with us during scripture reading, fhe, etc…This child fights me tooth and nail to just be quiet during prayer. I noticed last night before I found this, he is now 2 years old and we have allowed him to not be reverent. WE have created a monster! Then, I remembered how this past Sunday he sat through every prayer with his arms folded and his eyes closed and was reverent! I was so shocked..b/c at home, it’s completely different!

      I can’t wait to read your techniques.

      My 2 yr old, I have to give him credit though, during sacrament…he is pretty good..But, I have also reintroduced snacks and coloring and all kinds of distractions b/c of him..and since I would give it to him, my other kids protested b/c they wanted to color. I have a son that just turned 4 and twins that will be 5 on Tuesday…so it’s kinda hard to justify to them that he’s a baby!

      I came across your blog at just the right time. As I mentioned last night..I made the decision to work harder with him..because I need to..even though I didn’t have to work harder with my other 4. He is different. And I just need to work harder with him and he will learn. It’s just not going to be as easy with him as it was with the others.

      I guess I did this to myself. All the years I watched my sisters and criticized them b/c I get all the “your kids are the most well behaved in the ward” and the “how do you get them to sit still”. On the downside, one sister came up to me and told me that my daughter “wasn’t as fun as she used to be”(because she had learned to be reverent in sacrament) Since it was so easy for me, I couldn’t understand why my sisters didn’t have children who were reverent and so well behaved.

      I have even had both Bishops comment on my children’s good behavior. Well, since #5..we really haven’t been praised! lol… I am not understanding how different children can be and what it’s like to have a child who is not as laid back. He doesn’t have ADHD or anything…he’s just maybe he’s just spoiled..I don’t know…but this blog is gonna help me get him to be like my other kids during sacrament and all other places and events he needs to be reverent at!

      THANK YOU!

  110. This is an incredible post! I agree completely. I love the ideas you have too. I would add, not only should we expect more of our kids but more of ourselves as parents. The idea of trying to get a kid to sit still through Sacrament is enough to make most parents shudder. Many don’t feel confident in their abilities as parents. So they don’t even try.

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