How do you handle an active 2 year old during Family Worship? What does camping looking like with big kids, toddlers and newborns? With 10 kids do you keep a scrapbook or box for each child? This week the 4 Moms of Many are answering your questions.
Connie tackles questions about preparing for a newborn, treats for long car trips and wearing dresses.
KimC talks about wearing mostly skirts most of the time.
Deputy Headmistress is answering mystery questions. 😉
I’ve received a lot of questions about teaching children to sit through times of worship.
The best thing that we do to teach our little ones to be still (and relatively quiet) during family and corporate worship is that we begin early and we take it one step at a time.
We keep our children with us during family and corporate worship from the time that they are born and expect them to participate as much as possible as soon as possible. Most of our children have been fairly reliable at sitting through worship and not disturbing others by the time they are about 9 months old.
Folding hands during prayer is our earliest lesson and at 3 months Isabella is beginning. Within reason, we have her practice folding her hands every time we pray. During the prayer I hold her little hands together and as we say ‘Amen’ we bring her hands apart and praise her for doing a good job. When we begin training she might have her hands folded in her mouth so that she can suck on them but we slowly work to where she is able to fold her hands in her lap for the duration of the prayer.
Our next lesson is learning not to ‘talk’ during worship. This is another one we’ve started with Bella. The easiest way to discourage her from ‘talking’ at this stage is simply not to look at her or ‘talk’ back to her during our times of worship. As she gets older we will begin to tell her, “Shh, no talking.” (I wrote more extensively about this process here , just over half way down the page.) By teaching things as soon as the child is capable of doing them there is much less conflict as opposed to waiting until they are accustomed to doing what they wish and then putting limitations on their actions.
We teach staying on their bottom next. When they begin to learn to sit up there are certain circumstances where they are always required to stay sitting on their bum (in the bath tub and when they’re sitting on my lap during a meal, for example). By teaching them consistently that there are certain times that they may not move around, this lesson doesn’t required much teaching at all. If your baby has NEVER been allowed to stand up or crawl around in the bathtub, then they simply don’t consider this option. (Well, until they are old enough to know better and wish to test your limits, but that is another story entirely.)
But what about a two-year-old? Here are some ideas and tips that I hope will be useful for beginning the process with an older child:
Give clear guidelines. If you wish for your child to sit still, give them clear, definite instructions. Giving them their own chair (as opposed to a couch or floor) helps define where their bottom should stay. Asking them to keep their hands folded in their lap gives them something concrete to work toward. A two year old who is “sitting still” is not going to look the same as a 12 year old who is sitting still. They are just 2 after all.
We’ve found that giving strict guidelines at the beginning and then loosening them up as the child demonstrates responsibility is much better than going in the opposite direction. Also, in the beginning it’s natural for a child to test their boundaries, if they have smaller boundaries there is less likely to be a disruption for those around when they test those boundaries.
If the task is overwhelming just pick one or two things to work on and ignore the rest. Communicate your expectations clearly to your child and be consistent. When you achieve success pick another couple of things to focus on.
Be consistent. You have to decide if this is worth it to you and to your family. If it is then realize that during the training process there may be times when family worship isn’t what you wish it would be because you will have to address each time the child disobeys. (For more information read the Your Child’s Heart series.)
Have fun. It’s difficult to talk about these types of topics with people who we do not personally know and I hope that I’m not sounding schizophrenic here, but while we expect a great deal from our children, we also greatly delight in them. (The two most common comments we get about our children is 1. how well behaved they are and 2. how happy they are.)
We enjoy holding our little ones (and sometimes the older ones too) on our laps. We occasionally sing fun, action songs, tickle little toes, laugh at mispronunciations and generally have a joyful and fun time as we’re gathered together to worship our God. We are able to do this because we have our children’s hearts and deep inside they desire to please God and us. We are not at war with each other.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that self-control, obedience and learning to sit still should lead to joy. I’m not saying there will be no conflict on the way, but the end result should be the fruit of the spirit; love, joy and peace.
Do you keep a scrapbook or box for each child? I wondered if you did anything special.
I began by doing the traditional baby books with the first several children, but as our house filled up I quickly realized that I wasn’t doing a good job at staying caught up on those books.
As I thought about my dilemma I realized that there will come a day when I will want to look over their baby things and pictures and when I will have more time to create a special memory book for them. I imagine that will come when I no longer have little ones to nurse, change, feed and cuddle.
Currently I have a hanging file for each child. In the file I keep mementos like ultrasound pictures, cards and notes from their birth, special cards from their first birthday, a lock of hair from their first hair cut, some of my favorite pieces of their art work and other special items.
I also keep a personal journal where I record funny things they say, their milestones (not so good on that one), prayer requests for them, a record of their accomplishments, stories of their lives, etc.
My plan is to create a scrapbook from the things that I’ve written, pictures we’ve taken and things I’ve saved in their file. My idea is to give it to them as a wedding or engagement gift. I’ll let you know how that works out. 😉
What does camping looking like with big kids, toddlers and newborns?
Honestly, this would take me a whole series of posts to answer, but since I’m a notorious procrastinator (or perhaps it’s just because I don’t have much extra time to spend blogging) I’m going to try to share highlights now.
Make a list. I include everything that we need to pack on that list including food, condiments, entertainment, camping equipment, etc. and I include amounts (like 5 pairs of underwear). This makes the packing process more manageable.
Have a plan. When we camp Mark does all of the cooking and I get the table and children ready to eat. Both of us wash the dishes with one child helper.
Our days follow a simple pattern. We get up and leisurely eat breakfast and pack a lunch. Then we do our activity for the day whether it’s hiking, swimming, visiting an attraction, etc. We have a picnic every day. Mid-afternoon we head back to our camp site and those who need to nap are able to and the rest of us read, play games and eventually make dinner.
We have a buddy system with our children so each older child takes helps particularly with one younger child.
Train your children. One of the specific questions I received was how to get everyone to go to sleep at the same time, all together. When we’re camping and it’s time for bed we say, OK kids time for bed and they get in the tent and go to bed. Sometimes the older ones will stay out by the fire with Mark and me, so only the younger ones are in the tent and sometimes all the children go to bed at once.
I’m not assuming that this happens spontaneously, but our children share bedrooms and are accustomed to going to bed when it’s bedtime.
This is also helpful when it comes to packing, preparing food or taking care of the younger children. If the children are used to helping with those things at home then you can expect the same from them while you’re camping.
Get Camping in the Big Woods – A friend of mine recently published an ebook with lots of practical information about camping with kids. It also has a stellar list of recipes including whole food options.
Whew, next month I think I need to answer fewer questions.