Monday, March 12, 2012
Reverence: The Table
In our quest for more reverent children, may I present to you The Table. The table was an important part of our arsenal of techniques to help the toddling FOMLs learn reverence. In order for this to work, you must agree with a few key assumptions.
1) If you present a toddler with an alternative that is more fun that Sacrament Meeting, they will fight and cry and squirm until they can get out of the meeting. This includes, walking around looking at pictures, running around the foyer, sitting on the couch watching the other kids, or playing games with mom. If the kid makes it onto the floor, you have officially lost. Don't even get me started on those saints that let their kids roam free and end up on the stand.
2) President Packer made a good point when he suggested that the fathers take the responsibility of carrying kids out of meetings. I even had a counselor who would leave the stand to take a rowdy kid off his wife's hands - it was awesome! (Post about President Packer quote here.)
3) You can tolerate a few tears being shed for a greater purpose, as this is the most difficult part.
4) Your child is old enough to converse with you.
A few of you mentioned similar versions of what I am going to say in your comments yesterday. I am glad to hear that others have had success with this method.
All of my kids had a hard time sitting through sacrament meeting. I get that. It is long and boring for a little kid. Eventually they would fuss or cry to get carried out of the meeting. But instead of taking them into the foyer, I would find a classroom. We were lucky enough to usually have a few empty rooms. I would leave the light off, but the window would provide enough light to see.
I would give my child a hug, tell him/her the following: "I love you, but you can't act like that in Sacrament meeting. I want you to sit here until you think you can go back and be quiet and reverent."
I would then set the child on the table. This would freak them out a little because it was a little higher than a chair, and they were too little to jump off. A veritable cageless cage. ( I have one son climb off - I just picked him up and put him back and sternly told him to stay put. Repeatedly.)
Usually the child was crying before we left the chapel, but now thing would really get going. Tears, sobs, screams, etc. My response was always the same: Nothing. No words, eye contact, nothing. I would silently sit on a chair next to the table - but just out of reach, with my head bowed, arms folded.
The child would gradually work out the screams and tears. I waited. I was listening for one specific phrase:
"I want Mommy." Spoken - not screamed.
I would immediately "wake up", stand and ask my child, "Do you want to go sit with Mommy?"
"Yes" was always the reply.
"I can't let you go back unless you can be really good and sit on Mommy's lap without making noise. Can you do that?"
sniff - "Yes"
"Good, then we will go back if you promise."
"OK, let's go."
I would give the child a love and take him/her back into the meeting. Upon seeing mom, the child would race to her, climb on her lap, and sit quietly - and sometimes glare at me. If it started up again, all I had to do was reach...
The basic premise is that sitting on mom's lap is much better than sitting on a table with dad nearby ignoring you. It is effective, but requires some time, and some resolve on the part of the dad. (It is really hard to sit and watch a little one sob and plead for you with arms outstretched.)
How this applies to single parents, or fathers on the stand, I dunno - never had to deal with that challenge.
I have one more ultra-cool technique - but I am debating if I should share it or not as it could compromise my identity with some readers...Stay tuned. Update: August 23, 2012 - here it is "Reverence: A "Carrot" Approach."
MMM mormon humorist lds humor