Five ways to keep children happy at Mass

Author: Sarah Beresford

Five ways to keep children happy at Mass

Sarah Beresford from the Catholic Bible School shares her top five tips for keeping children engaged during Mass.

1. Music helps

Experiences of taking children to Mass, especially the under-5’s, can vary widely.

If there’s music it can be a bit easier. At least they can make a bit of noise while the singing goes on.

Without music and singing it can be a bit more tricky.

2. Bring books

Many parents bring a variety of Bible stories and children’s bibles for our children to look at.

I think it helps, where possible, for the children who can read, to have a children’s version of the Gospel reading.

These are not always easy to get hold of, especially ones with good illustrations, and it does take a bit of preparation.

But it can help them engage with what’s happening rather than simply reading David and Goliath every week.

The same can be said for Bible activity and colouring books. If you can use the pages that most closely follow the Mass readings, it makes it all a little easier.

3. Get involved

For children with wriggly bottoms, volunteering to be part of the offertory in some way gives them an excuse for a walk-round right in the middle of the liturgy.

Our parish communities are all different too. Some of us parents are frowned at for the slightest noise. We feel ourselves wanting to be swallowed up by the seat because we accidently brought the car with the really noisy wheels!

But some of our parish communities are so welcoming to families, and their natural noise, that it can be hard to maintain an appropriate level of reverence for what is happening at the front.

4. Mini Mass

The Eucharistic prayer tends to be a really tricky bit for children. It is a long stretch where they have to be quiet and as parents we feel more self-conscious about the noise than at other parts of the Mass.

Something that has worked for us, is really trying to engage your children with what’s happening.

I remember spending many a month whispering to Molly about visualising the Holy Spirit coming down onto the bread and wine and being able to see a miracle happening before our eyes as it is transformed into Jesus’ body and blood.

We’d copy the gestures of the priest in a small way so as not to distract others.

Sometimes we would take our mini-mass kit (below is a video of my personal favourite set) and use the vessels along with the priest.

The good thing about the kits is that you can play Mass at home and help deepen and embed the behaviour appropriate for Church.

5. Do it daily

As with all things in our faith life, if it only happens for a hour or so on a Sunday it will remain something that we struggle with and something alien to us.

For our families to grow and deepen in faith we must develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

It needs to be every-day, with prayers at bedtime, in the morning and at meal times.

Morning was always hard for us but the school-run put us in the car for at least 15 minutes and we took a minute or two of that to pray and say thank you.

Most of us can squeeze in a few seconds before a meal to pray and bedtime prayers for many of us are easier still.

A bedtime Bible story is a good place to start. For the 7-11 year olds the Topz Bible study magazine that comes out every other month is a good bedtime prayer activity.

There is no perfect solution, but all the people I have spoken to have said getting involved in what is going on at Mass rather than simply occupying the children to “get through” Mass is a winning strategy.

  • This article is taken from the GoodNews Magazine. To discover other great features like this, please click here to subscribe.

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