I can relate to this problem very well, not because I have a small child to worry about but because I am one of people who get distracted from the sermon when children aren't behaving or just wiggling around and moving alot.
I understand sometimes they just won't cooperate which is why alot of churches, mine included, have a children's church while the grown-ups have theirs upstairs, the children are getting a different sermon on their level of understanding. We also have a nursery for babies, so it is rare to see one in the worship area, unless it is a visitor with a child.
But, I can tell you that sometimes, teenagers can be just as distracting and I have caught my preacher and the assistant preacher along with the youth director give them hard stares from time to time because they can see what they are doing better than I can. Because I always sit a good bit away from them and behind them. But, I do catch those stares and it works every time because they stop fooling around.
Here's a few suggestions from NannyPro.com on some things you can do:
Children out of the toddler stage but still little enough to get bored easily can be occupied with any number of quiet distractions. Again, soft toys, coloring books and crayons will help. Some churches have activity bags for kids, or you can make your own.
Start with a cloth tote or backpack; remember while you’re choosing a bag that you definitely don’t want one that will make a lot of noise with zippers and metal rings clinking. Fill the bag with items such as:
** Crayons Bible coloring books
** Paper dolls
** Felt or cloth books
**Bible comic books
Rather than giving your child everything at once, allow him to do one activity at a time, and when he gets tired of that one, choose another for him. If you allow your child to have snacks during the service, make sure they are quiet snacks. Keep the food in a container that will not make noise when it’s opened or closed. Candy wrappers can be very distracting, so unwrap candy before service begins or consider other options.
I did not copy the whole article because I am not about to get in trouble, so if you want to read more about what they have to say about keeping your children still or quiet during a sermon, just go to Nanny Pro and read the article. The link I provided will take you straight to that post.
I have read some of the tricks and I think that these might actually work in other places than just the church. They can work in restaurants, meetings, people coming over for dinner, travelling in a car, how to behave around others while waiting your turn at checking out or waiting to get into something.
I bet the biggest help of all would be plane rides and shopping. Nothing worse than hearing a child scream while you are shopping. I used to be able to take things like that but with my nerves on edge now, the least thing can set me off so I try not to put myself in those positions for my sanity.
So, maybe these are tools that you can use in other places, not just the church and once you have figured out what works best, keep that handy at all times. I would even put backups in the car just in case you have to go somewhere in a hurry and don't have time to go home. I would also have backups at each Grandparent's homes so that way they are covered in case your child has a meltdown.
Can you tell I use to be an Office Manager? I plan ahead and always have extra's of everything at home and in my car for that "just in case" scenario! I love a well thought out plan but even those sometimes go out the window when we are faced with a challenge or something unexpected. I call this "what if", when hubby asks why.
Good Luck to those who need this article. I hope that it helps or at least sets you on a course that you can adapt to and follow.
Disclaimer: Mary Bearden personally reviewed these products. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review, just a sample product. All opinions are mine and belong to me solely. My thoughts and opinions may differ from you.