“Nurturing Reverence,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 73
A child may sincerely love the Lord but may also need the experience of many years to become reverent in both thought and action. Because children have short attention spans and energetic bodies, it is unrealistic to expect them to be quiet and well behaved all the time. But most children can learn at an early age what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Here are some ideas that can help parents teach appropriate behavior at church so a foundation can be laid for respect and true reverence in church.
Teaching Appropriate Behavior
Set a clear picture of what the family considers appropriate and inappropriate behavior at home and at church.
As needed, provide positive, loving reinforcement for good behavior and appropriate and loving judiciously considered negative consequences for inappropriate behavior.
Where appropriate in terms of the child’s age or maturity, help children set realistic goals for their behavior at church.
Set a good example. Much of the disruption during Church meetings does not come from children.
Have children take care of necessary drinks and rest room visits before meetings.
Designate specific clothes as Sunday clothes or church clothes.
At the same time that children are learning to act appropriately, parents can continue to nurture their children’s feelings of reverence and help them learn to recognize and respond to the Spirit. Here are some ideas parents can use to help their children’s budding feelings of reverence to grow.
Sing hymns at home so children will be able to participate in Church meetings.
Help children become accustomed to praying by having them say family, mealtime, and nightly prayers on a regular basis.
Discuss the gospel at home so children will understand what is said at church.
Ask questions about talks and Primary lessons.
Give children quiet, gospel-oriented activities to do during the week.
Encourage children to participate in Primary as speakers or in other ways.
Limit television watching and encourage listening activities so children will develop the skills necessary to follow speakers’ thoughts.
An important part of reverent and respectful behavior at church is the background of the Sabbath day. For a child whose family honors the Sabbath, Sunday meetings are only a part of the holy day. Church meetings are not just an interlude in an otherwise worldly life; they are part of an entire day that the Lord has set aside for his purposes and our spiritual growth.