More about getting kids to behave at Mass

More about getting kids to behave at Mass

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post that garnered a lot of attention about the people who glared at my children during Mass, even when they were making a minimal amount of noise. This week, Jen of Conversion Diary wrote about getting kids to behave in church, including a lot of good advice in her post and the comments. Best bit of advice was that good behavior on Sunday depends on how you work with them on good behavior during the week.

And here I’ll throw out my controversial bit: I think one reason our kids are well-behaved at Mass is that they don’t watch TV. Hey, I’m not a “TV is evil” guy. I watch plenty of TV myself. But it’s my opinion, that for my kids, TV isn’t something they need to be watching regularly and I think our experience shows the benefit, not just at Mass, but also in how Iabella plays and reads and entertains herself and behaves.

Again, this is not to say that this applies to anyone but my own kids, but if someone’s looking for advice, this is what I’d suggest.


  • If it means I don’t have to watch anymore Hannah Montana I’m willing to try it smile Although there could be a riot in the house as I wrest the tv channel changer away from their little grubby hands.

  • I’m not a TV is evil guy either, but I have never heard a parent or grown child lament the fact that they DID NOT watch enough TV growing up. Imagine hearing a 30 y.o. in 2020 saying how his life is less because Sponge Bob was not a regular companion.

    We have highly restricted TV in my home as well kids (7, 8 and 9)and they regularly test and read above average and are consistently well behaved in Church and similar venues.

    On thing I note between my kids and my nieces and nephews (similarly raised except for TV) is that the more TV, the snarkier the language and an inability to entertain themselves.

    If it is not the largely banal shows, it is the V-Secret, Desperate Housewives and Viagra commercials…

    The level of vigilance necessary is not worth the effort.

  • Our kids, 7 and 10, don’t get free access to the TV. It’s never an option to just turn it on or to ever just watch whatever they find. I know there are many houses that just have the TV on all the time. Our kids will not have their own TVs, and we don’t have one in our room either. The kids do not watch TV during the school week. When we choose to watch on weekends, we let them choose from programs we have recorded with DVR—favorite shows that we approve of—or selections we’ve requested through Netflix. We have “family movie night” most Friday nights. There are many good things to watch for fun and education when they are older. It is always amazing to us how many parents are shocked that we do this or that we “can.” Since this is how our family watches TV, it is not a struggle and they do enjoy what they watch. Since TV is not a constant presence, our kids are well able to read for extended periods, to play with dolls or Legos (respectively), or just imaginative play.

  • In my opinion, my kids watch far too much TV. We try do try to cut back and continue to try but all it takes for preggo mommy to be too exhausted to put up a fight and kids win. We are working on it. Funnily enough though, they are both generally very well behaved at Mass. Our biggest difficulty is that the 1 year old wants to leave the pew and explore. The 3 year old is very well behaved though and, if held, the 1 year old is as well. We’ll still keep trying to cut back the TV though. Mommy likes too much tv too. :::sigh:::

  • Hey, Dom, just a thought, but do any of your readers have any advice on how to smoothly cut back the amount of TV kids watch? I mean, cold turkey is a possibility, but the difference does disturb the kids’ behavior. I’ve thought of gradually reducing it or making a point of a few days of much outings to distract from a cold turkey approach. Honestly, when I’ve tried the cold turkey approach at home, my 3 year old simply heads straight for my computer, where she knows how to flip to her account and open Disney webpages and would play for hours if I let her and I don’t see how it is much of an improvement – interactive, yes, but still on a screen. I can then turn off my computer and the TV but then, not only am I not thrilled not having my computer accessible, but I wind up with upset, cranky kids. She does play and like to read, but she likes the TV and computer a bit more. I admit being pregnant with off thyroid levels have made me especially tired and impatient to deal with the whole thing, but I thought maybe some of your readers might have some advice?

  • Dom,

    The best thing YOU can do to get your children to behave doesn´t start with you at all, but with all those people around you.  Sure, you have to set an example for your children of how to behave in Church, and discipline your children if they behave badly, but you need the help of every single person in the Church to show your children—yes, this is how Catholics behave in Church.  I am shock and horrified by how badly Catholic behave, even when seated just feet from a priest at prayer.

    Why?  Why can´t/don´t most catholics behave like they are in the house of and in the presence of the living God?  I think TV plays a huge role in it.  I am not sure if you remember Fr. Stan Fortuna´s homily at Proud2BCatholic two or three years ago, but responded to those who said that Church was¨“boring” saying that in truth we are not bored by Church but rather we come to Church existentially bored already, because we are so over saturated with entertainment.  We require flashing lights and loud noises just to feel normal.

    In contrast the Mass is not about entertainment but about self-gift.  When people start to really see and understand this they will stop giving you mean stares and start helping you to teach your children how to behave at the Holy Sacrifice.