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This room is dedicated to those who are facing the challenge of raising children without the support of a spouse. This is a place to share ideas and lend mutual support.

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I have a 6 yr old who consistantly acts out during mass. Its really hard to meet people when you're sooo embarrassed and no one ever dares to sit near us, it's like a disease. I remember when I was little my sibs and I used to act up as well, and we eventually got older and quit going to mass all together. I've tried talking to him a million times and it doesn't seem to work. Tried bribing its hit or miss. Ignore him and it gets worse. I want to be able to enjoy mass and really pray and focus on the sermons, not constantly trying to curb his behavior. Does anyone have any ideas?

05/01/2012 new

I've had a few wigglers myself over the years. With one, it really helped to keep an arm around him...gently, affectionately-not a firm grip. From time to time whisper in his ear about what is going on and why we do what we do.

For another, nothing helped but to bring picture books - Catholic picture books. For another it was a simple children's missal with pictures that I could help him keep track of where we are in the Mass.


Yet another just wanted to know when Mass would be over. So, we would count down the hymns. 4, 3, 2, and 1 and we are done.

If you think he might have a bit of ADHD, I learned something last week that is so counterintuitive, it's going to take me a while to absorb and use. Kids with ADHD act up and get super-wiggly because their brains are under-stimulated and they experience that "boredom" as something close to pain. Giving a kid like this something to do with his hands can mean the difference between being calm and attentive or acting like a crazed jumping bean. Maybe try a small rosary for his pocket or some little bendy thing that he can manipulate or....I wish I knew what it was called but there is a kind of putty that doesn't stick to stuff and comes in a little tin. At school, my son uses a stress ball. Younger kids have other types of "fidgets" including a piece of velcro taped under the top of their desk.

05/01/2012 new

I'd wait on the diagnosis.

But you do have to try until you find what works.

Maybe a different time of the day for going to Mass might help, depending on his own clock.

He is not yet old enough to really sit still. My 12 year old and I still go round about Mass behavior, and she is nowhere near ADHD .

Focus on the shiny windows, look for how many angels are around or how many statues there are, give him something to look for or count how many times the priest sits or stands or whatever - it could change each week.

Main thing is to be patient. Teach him the mass parts so he can sing when it's time. The best thing is that you are taking him to Mass. Keep up the good work.

05/01/2012 new

Oh, and welcome to the forum, Kate! wave

05/02/2012 new
I just got my nephew the book, Dont Drink the Holy Water. Fr. Joe and Big Al helps get the message across. His book is available at Gospel Value websites or WeLoveBigAl.com.

Also instead of starting a whole hour with a wiggly child, try attending church when no one is around. Walk around the church taking about some of the special.features. Spend some quiet time in prayer to.help him do some quiet time.

In my classroom we have some children wear special vest that have weight for sensory. Some children sit on cushions to allow some wiggle movement.

My son has Autism spectrum Disorder and ADHD so mass was a struggle. One parish had the children leave right after the readings to present the homily in a child friendly was as well as the other parts of the mass. Another parish had the pre school during all of mass. It helped everyone.
05/02/2012 new

My kids were a year apart and both had ADHD and medical issues. My son was also developmentally delayed. I was away from the Church when I adopted them as toddlers and returned the year they turned 7 & 8. When I first came back, I was attending a beautiful, echoey cathedral. There was always a reverent hush and every sound was naturally amplified by all the stone. My daughter would keep up a litany of complaints how she didn't want to come to church, was it time to leave yet, could she use the bathroom, she hated church... she'd be on the floor and crawling around and up at least 2-3 times to use the bathroom. Since she had to use the restroom frequently at home, too, I was never sure how often she actually needed to go. When I sent her on her own (I could see the bathroom from my pew) she would hang out in there for as long as possible, then try to hang out in the back. My son would touch and wave at any one within range - people would slide down and move to other pews to get away from him. Although no one was mean about it, I'm sure they just wanted to concentrate on the Mass and keep their own kids focused, I felt about 2 inches tall ashamed . Trying to keep them from disturbing everyone else made me so tense that I'd leave every Mass irritated and frustrated. I envied people who actually heard the readings and the homily.


After several months, we visited another church and found a place where we fit in. My daughter's CCD teacher called the 10:30 Mass the ADHD Mass. There's an entire band as well as a loud choir, so our noises were pretty well drowned out (at least a good portion of the time). There are a lot of things that go on that I don't think are quite right during Mass: clapping after the homily, everyone gets up and wanders around the church saying hi when it's time to offer the sign of peace, everyone holds hands and sings the Our Father... and when my son used to wave and touch people, they waved and hugged him back. My son always wanted to take Communion and sometimes at random times during the Mass, he would make a break for the altar. The few times he made it all the way to the front of the church before I could catch him, he laughed and waved - and people smiled and waved back. The priest never acted impatient or angry. After the first few Masses, we sat in the balcony - so I could block him before he got to the stairs. As she got older, during the sign of peace, my daughter was allowed to roam along with everyone else, with the understanding that when the music started (signalling the return to Mass) she would come back to our seats.

I still didn't get much out of the Mass when my kids were little, even at the new church. But I knew it might be years before my daughter was able to pay attention and my son never would be able. We used to like to go to the park after Mass, so I made it a rule that we went to church every Sunday, and if they were too rowdy and I spent too much time arguing with my daughter, I was going to go to a later Mass at a different church and since there was no one to watch them, they had to come too. Unfortunately that kept us from going to the park. I think I only did that 2-3 times. After that, just mentioning that I was missing Mass was enough to make my daughter straighten up a little. I was more relaxed and I didn't leave Mass feeling like I was coming out of my skin. I just wanted them to be there and get whatever blessings they could and I was at least able to take Communion.

My son died 7 years ago and my daughter is now 19 and attends Mass sporadically (although she lives at home, I leave it up to her whether she comes or not). Mass is peaceful now in a way it wasn't back when they were little, but it's also kind of sad. We don't always go to the new church, because of my hours at work, but I can almost see my son running for the altar. And my daughter still has ADHD, she still gets up to use the restroom at least once, and she still goes to greet everyone during the sign of peace, and she sometimes still makes my blood pressure rise by complaining that mass is taking too long rolling eyes , but now I can tell her it was her choice to come! wink

I did find that when my daughter and I sit up front, she is much more focused on the Mass. That helped even when she was little (but it didn't work for my son, so that's why we sat in the balcony). Even if you don't think he'll handle it, you might try sitting in the front two pews (but sit by the aisle, so you can take him to the back if he gets too wiggly).

God bless you!

05/02/2012 new

I think every parent struggles with this at some point. And believe me, my time is now too, LOL! My kids are 12, 10, 7, 5 & 5....you'd think the 12 yo would be a great help...but I often spend my time telling her to stop playing w/the twins & focus on mass. My 7 yo...ugghh...he's my onery one in & out of church. The twins are coming along...I usually allow them to take 1 small toy to play with in their laps or a small notebook & pen to draw on. There are bad days, really bad days...my favorite are when everyone starts picking on each other, my quiet disciplinary actions are met w/loud rebuttals. Those are the days I get heartfelt "peace be with you" s...LOL!

I may have the wrong attitude but I figure right now my focus isn't so much on the mass, but rather to teach my kids how to focus. I know if there is something that God really wants me to hear, He will get through to me, noise & all. I also have the luxury of attending our school mass 3 days a week, kid free...those are my specail times!

05/02/2012 new

Thanks for your great advice and stories! I feel so alone at my church, as I am the only one with a wiggley one. We normally do the 11am mass, but maybe the 8:30 would be better so we can go again if he acts up, I liked that idea best and haven't tried it. Sitting up front just means I have to walk him up the isle and out the door and advertise to the entire parish that my kid is miss behaving. I've done that before too! I wish I could say it's ADHD or something as all of my friends children have special needs, ADD, ADHD, Autism and so forth, because that way I wouldn't take his behavor so personal. But he's fine in school and everywhere else. I'm gonna try the early mass this Sunday, and maybe go back for the 11am one too. That oughta teach him!

05/02/2012 new

(Quote) Kate-749265 said: Thanks for your great advice and stories! I feel so alone at my church, as I am the only one with ...
(Quote) Kate-749265 said:

Thanks for your great advice and stories! I feel so alone at my church, as I am the only one with a wiggley one. We normally do the 11am mass, but maybe the 8:30 would be better so we can go again if he acts up, I liked that idea best and haven't tried it. Sitting up front just means I have to walk him up the isle and out the door and advertise to the entire parish that my kid is miss behaving. I've done that before too! I wish I could say it's ADHD or something as all of my friends children have special needs, ADD, ADHD, Autism and so forth, because that way I wouldn't take his behavor so personal. But he's fine in school and everywhere else. I'm gonna try the early mass this Sunday, and maybe go back for the 11am one too. That oughta teach him!

--hide--
That oughta be interesting. Let us know how that turns out.... biggrin

05/02/2012 new

So, you want stories? ROFLOL Have I got stories! I was at Mass with 5 or 6 of my kids...this is way back and all of them were young. One son kept disappearing under the pew. And, I kept pulling him back out. And, he kept disappearing and I kept pulling him out. The last time I pulled him out, I realized he had something in his mouth. He'd been picking gum off the underside of the pew. EWWWWWWWW

And, another....same son, actually. I was at Mass with 6 kids, the youngest an itty bitty baby girl. It was right at the Lamb of God and I hear people trying to stifle their laughter behind me. Ugh, I thought. Why do they make my life harder by playing with my children when I'm trying to teach my kids to behave. rolling eyes I take a q uick peek at my sweet son who should be sitting in the pew. And, he was. And, very quiet, too. JUST ONE PROBLEM. He was wearing his baby sister's bonnet...it was perched on the top of his head and everyone for 4 or 5 pews back was giggling and snorting and snuffling and said son was so pleased with himself for making everyone so happy. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

I think people enjoyed sitting behind us just for the entertainment value. And, we won't mention when I took one out of the church and he was screaming "Don't beat me, Mommy! Don't beat me!" I never ever spanked that one. Not ever. Embarrassed and confused, I never wanted to go back to church after that. But, you go. Because you need to. Because the kids need to. and, because it's not about you. Mommyhood is a very humbling experience. embarassed

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