Toddlers and preschoolers are full of energy and joy, but trying to keep your toddler in public spaces like church, graduation ceremonies, funerals and so many other events that need calm kids can be quiet the battle. It can be hard on your child and even test your patience.
Many parents wonder what to do and even want to give up after trying quiet-time books, toys and snacks. Today, we are giving you a LOT of new ideas… I hope one of them works for you based on advice we got from our Facebook community and beyond…
Related: How to keep kids quiet in church
Ways To Keep Your Toddler Quiet At Public Events
1. Sit closer to the front.
Choose a seat near the front for your event. Our experience was with church. We found the closer we sat to the front of the church, the better behavior happened! Remember that to a child, they are more interested if they can SEE what is going on, not just hear it. When you sit in the back it is hard to pay attention to anything relevant back there and they tend to act out more.
2. Try Playdough.
“We give her playdough. Just one little container. We explain that she has to whisper if she needs something. She doesn’t say a peep. ”
Related: Try our favorite homemade playdough recipe!
3. Pre-empt Wiggles with Frequent Walks
Take a small one-minute-walk every ten minutes or so during the event.
Related: Try one of our quiet time activities for kids
4. Provide a Quiet Box
Have a “quiet box” that you fill with special toys just for special occasions. Rotate the toys and add new ones that are cheap to buy, but fun for the kids!
Related: Make an activity bag for kids
5. Try Earlier for Success for Regular Events Like Church
“Bring him in later and slowly extend your time there, coming in earlier and earlier as he becomes successful. It’s way more reasonable to expect a child that young to sit for short periods and then make those periods longer.”
6. Assist from Technology
Find apps on the phone can occupy your child while they sit quietly.
7. If it is Church, Leverage the Singing
“Bring him in for the singing part. That way he will be there for part of it and the singing might get him to sit for a sort time.”
8. Special Sticker Books for Special Occasions
“One thing that usually works for us is sticker books when they’re that little if they can only play with stickers at church and they can only have a couple at a time when you hand them two or three and have them stand and sing when you see a dancing and teach him how to pray when you’re praying. That will help eliminate so much time to be acting out.”
9. Attend the Family Church Service
Go to a family friendly service. You can find services where kids are not only welcome, but encouraged to come. If that isn’t an option, look for a church that has a quiet room, where you can see the service and hear them through the speakers, but they can’t hear you.
10. Practice Reading Time (& Quiet Time)
“Try doing reading time at home where he needs to sit and listen to you read. Start out with one book then as he learns to sit still and quiet start reading more books. This will teach him how control himself in certain situations. If he starts to act out take him for a walk but hold him to let him know that it is not play time. This will also help for other events such as graduations and weddings where he needs to learn to control himself. Stick with it and be patient! He is not too young to know that there are times to play and times to be calm. He will learn so much from going to church and from watching you be patient with him in the meantime!”
11. Strategic Breaks During Events
Choose to take a break throughout an event quietly. For instance, this is how Lauren manages church with her toddler:
“We also take a break half way through (right before the homily) to walk around in the back of the church. When we are kneeling for a bit, we also walk around with her sometimes. I feel it isn’t about me at this point, but getting her to a point where she can understand and enjoy church. She has my attention through out the service, where we are talking about the service and what is going on. I may not be paying attention to the readings or homily, but I know that I am giving my daughter a great gift of understanding and enjoying church. Also, talk with your priest or pastor. Ours is very understanding about children who are not silent and sit still. He has said that during a quiet moment he loves to hear a child talking or a baby crying because it means there is a new generation growing up in the church. You may find that it seems much worse to you than it actually is.”
12. Coloring Books are Great Quiet Activities
Giving him a coloring book with a pen. Children so rarely get pens that when they, they are excited to use them. (You can even find those sparkly gel pens that are more fun!)
Related: Over 500 free coloring pages for kids here at Kids Activities Blog
13. Tradition of After Event Play Time
Let him play on the playground or with other kids after the event (even if you have had to cut it a bit short).
14. Timed Quiet Time at Home
Practice quiet time in your own house. Set a timer and start small. 5 minutes of quiet time activities, then 10, then 15… every week you can continue to increase the time until you have reached your goal.
15. Encourage instead of Discourage
Whatever you decide, remember that you are teaching your children in everything that you do. Encourage them to come with them, with gentle reminders to be still and listen. Remember that they are only young children and they really do not have the attention span for an hour-long event. Frequent breaks and distractions are going to be your best bet, as they learn to sit quietly. This, too, shall pass.
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More Quiet Activities to Try from Kids Activities Blog
What ways to keep toddlers quiet have we missed? Add your suggestions in the comments below!