Ten Tips toward Reverence
Reverence during sacrament meeting allows us to draw closer to our Father in Heaven through participating in the ordinance of the sacrament and through listening to the spiritual messages of the speakers. Our reverence in meetings also benefits those around us. As a courtesy to others at the meeting, we should try to be reverent so that neither we nor our children rob anyone else of their opportunity to worship.
The following guidelines are suggestions toward an ideal. Remain optimistic as you help your children move toward the goal of being reverent.
Encourage reverence as early as possible. If your baby’s fussing or playful babbling becomes annoying, give him or her a soft toy or a teething ring. Babies also love exploring fingers, so play silent little finger games for a short diversion. When he cries, take him out of the meeting. After checking to make sure he is not wet or hungry, and as soon as he is quiet, bring him back into the chapel.
As children get older, do not allow them to crawl around the chapel. And when you remove a child from a meeting, do not allow the child to run around and play outside the chapel. If crying in church is rewarded with a half hour of freedom, children quickly learn that they would rather play than sit still.
Avoid the use of force, as this may make your child resent sacrament meeting and resent you as well. If it becomes a battle of wills, neither of you will enjoy sacrament meeting. When older children become unruly, catch their attention and gently shake your head to indicate “no.”
Be patient. Training children to be reverent requires time. Don’t expect overnight success. If your children already have some bad habits, remember that it takes time to replace bad habits with good ones. You will need to do a lot of patient guiding, teaching, and encouraging to help your children change.
Praise your children when you have any success, no matter how small. Remember, praise is a better behavior modifier than punishment.
Be consistent in your expectations, not haphazard or part-time.
Practice at home. Establish a two- or three-minute quiet time with your child on your lap. Read a book or play with a toy. Gradually increase the time until you build up your child’s tolerance for sitting quietly.
Remember, children are different; some are naturally more active than others. But most children can learn to be reverent. Treat your children as individuals and you will have much more success. Don’t compare your children to others.
Each week will be different. Just because your children were reverent one week doesn’t mean they will be reverent the next week. We adults have our ups and downs; children are no different. The Lord allows us the privilege of self-correction, and we must allow our children the same privilege.
Plan ahead. Make sure children have had a drink of water and have been to the bathroom before the meeting begins. Don’t let your children leave sacrament meeting and go to the rest room alone unless you are sure they will come straight back. If they do go alone and do not come back in a reasonable time, find them and bring them back.
Bring suitable activities for children during sacrament meeting. Remember, these activities should help teach reverence.
Older children should participate in the meeting. Encourage them to locate scriptures mentioned by speakers during their sacrament meeting talks. Reading illustrated scripture books and the Friend magazine can also encourage reverence and lead children into sacrament meeting participation.
Younger children may need a church bag—a small bag belonging to the child and containing the things he or she will need during sacrament meeting. The contents of the bag can be selected primarily by the child as long as he or she can clearly make appropriate choices.
Avoid brittle plastic bags or noisy toys. For example, if your child makes “brooooom” sounds when he or she plays with cars, don’t bring cars.
A great way to make church bags is to spend a family home evening selecting and making things to go into the bag. You can make picture books with old magazine pictures or photocopies of the Friend puzzle pages; include some lacing cards and quiet books. Older children can make up puzzles using Church themes. A questionnaire on the topic of the talks can help older children focus on the meeting. They can then use this information as the basis of a future lesson for family home evening.
Our goal as parents is to bring up children to be responsible individuals who love and obey the Lord and live their lives to their fullest potential. Learning to be reverent during sacrament meeting will help us achieve this goal.—, Fairfield, Victoria, Australia
One night I settled down on the couch with my children and read them a story about a boy who learned to ride a bike. “Wow-ee, wow-ee!” said the boy in the story. “This is the greatest day!” The contented hero of the book was none other than my oldest son.
I was reading from the journal I had been keeping for him since I first knew I was expecting a baby. I have kept similar journals for each of my children in inexpensive, spiral-bound notebooks. I write the child’s name on the outside, and I fill the pages with fun things about their lives.
Some entries are long; some are quite short. I have recorded stories the children have told me and songs they have invented, and I have even included a recipe or two. And in the back of each journal I have kept a dictionary of how each child has learned to speak. One child called night crawlers “nightmare worms,” trampolines “stampolines,” and raspberries “rabbys.”
But the best part about their journals is reading them together. These journals don’t sit on the shelf until it is time to write. Rather, at bedtime, when I read stories to my children, I am often asked to take a journal from the shelf and read about their lives. In doing this, we remember many precious moments that might otherwise be forgotten.
After we finish reading, I tuck the children into bed, and they often say, “Those were the bestest stories!”—, Sidney, Montana
Coping during Crisis Times
Sometimes families experience problems so severe or time consuming that the health of caregivers can be seriously jeopardized as they devote their resources to coping. Health-threatening stresses can result from a family member’s health emergency, a child in trouble, a substance abuse problem, or other demanding crisis. Often challenges come in the midst of other heavy responsibilities, such as work, Church callings, or child rearing.
Some parents may worry that perhaps the Lord will be displeased with them if they do not drop everything to deal with trouble. However, sacrificing all their resources, including health, strength, and other family relationships, is not necessarily required or wise during difficult times. In truth, the Lord expects us to find a way to balance all our responsibilities.
Some things to keep in mind:
Keep priorities clear.
Get enough sleep.
Take a break.
Spend some time with other members of the household each day discussing their concerns, instead of focusing solely on the crisis involving one part of the family.
Request temporary help with meals. Relief Society sisters in the ward may be able to help if the crisis is serious and short-term. Also, other family members, even young children, can sometimes help with meals. Just getting simple, prepared foods from the grocery store can sometimes help relieve the pressure.
Set aside time to deal with household tasks, such as paying bills.
Falling apart in a crisis only postpones its resolution and retards our long-term progress. Part of our growth comes from learning to deal with adversity and rising above it. Taking care of yourself in times of stress, as well as your share of the household responsibilities, will allow you in the end to handle the emergency or crisis and make recognizable progress.—, Provo, Utah