Leah Smith, MOT, OTR/L
Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” So many questions – Did Solomon ever bring a 2-year-old to church?? Did he ever get a 2-year-old ready to go to church?? Did he ever try to get said child to sit quietly and still so as not to disturb the other, very put-together people sitting around him listening intently?? Well I have, and I can tell you, that is no small feat and definitely not for the weak!
Now let’s factor in a morning of chocolate bunnies, competitive egg hunting, beautiful pageant-worthy clothes, and exciting treasures from the Easter bunny. Now you’ve got a recipe for holy tribulation! Oh, and then let’s season this recipe with some savory sensory issues or attention issues that wreak havoc on said 2-year-old on even the best of days. So then let’s talk about some strategies to make the day less hectic.
- Have a game plan. Wake up a little earlier than normal to make sure you have plenty of time to get everyone ready. This way you don’t have to add the stress of rushing out the door to your morning.
- Pack a bag. Have a small bag of quiet things to occupy your little ones. It’s hard to expect them to sit and listen to an entire sermon so little things to entertain can be a lifesaver. Some examples: coloring books and crayons, picture books (I Spy books are great for older kiddos), etch-a- sketch, finger puppets, or soft dolls.
- Have an escape route. Many churches have a cry room for mamas who want to step out for a minute with their enthusiastic babies. If your child has a little too much energy, let them take a break.
- Prepare your child. Talk to your kid about the meaning of church, of the service, and of Easter. Let them know why we go and why it’s important to be respectful to others while they worship. Easter can be a hard story to explain. The maker of Veggie Tales made a video you can watch with your child to help them understand the gravity of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Here’s the link: https://www.google.com/amp/www.more4kids.info/384/explaining-easter-to-children/amp/
- Calming techniques for home or in the car: joint compression, weighted lap blankets, heavy work (let them carry your bags) or noise canceling head phones if your little one is easily overwhelmed by the loud praise music.
Most of all remember that church is a place for our children too. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Church is a place of love and acceptance, not judgment. Even though we as parents cringe when our kids make a scene anywhere, especially church, the most important thing to remember is: you made it! You are there, and our Heavenly Father is not worried about your tantruming toddler. So hang in there parents! Band together in fellowship. At the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can.