Mom and baby in church
Imagine you have taken your child to a religious place – it could be a temple, a church, gurudwara or a mosque. The atmosphere is pious. Everyone is feeling devout and virtuous. The scenario is very calm and peaceful. Suddenly, your toddler decides to have a screaming competition with himself. The spiritual spell is broken and everyone is turning and looking at you and your toddler. You bet they are thinking “this mother cannot handle her kid” or “why couldn’t she leave that kid home?” You do have one option to pretend the child is not yours!! 🙂 But as tempting as that may sound, you do have some responsibility towards other devotees in a religious place. Everyone comes there for a reason. To get some peace ranks the top of the list. Many churches in western countries have a “crying room” or nursery to help manage toddlers. Since that is not the case in India, here are some ways to keep your toddler quiet when visiting religious places:

Top Tips To Keep Your Baby Quiet At Religious Places

  • Small toys: More often than not, the reason for your child’s restlessness and irritation is boredom. Try to carry a small toy that fits into your purse. It could be a Hot Wheels car or a tiny doll. It should be small enough for them to hold easily in their hand without attracting too much attention. It should also be something that they like so that they remain engaged. Avoid anything that makes sound – the whole idea is to remain quiet. Also avoid toys like balls that the child might be tempted to throw around
  • Small activities: A “pocket” paint book and a couple of crayons can do wonders, especially during a long church mass or a ceremony in a temple. It might not, however, work in temples where you are either standing in a queue, waiting for your turn to go in front of the shrine, or are walking around (pradakshins). You could also try small puzzles like a 2×2 Rubik Cube that the child can carry easily whether standing or sitting
  • Snacks: If your religious place allows small snacks for your children, then do carry them. Nothing like bribing them with a biscuit for sitting quiet for 10 minutes. It could any finger food or fruit that is easy to handover and dry. The idea is that you engage their mouth in something other than shouting, screaming and crying. Also, make sure you pack the snack in a spill proof container
  • Child in temple

  • Reward: There is nothing like positive reinforcement to inculcate a good habit. Tell them they will be rewarded with something they like (but light on your pocket) if they remain quiet and good during the religious place visit. And live up to that promise. The corollary also works. Tell them if they behave badly, some privilege of theirs would be cut. Carrots or sticks. Whatever works
  • God-Fearing: This might not work for everyone, but if you are raising your child as a god fearing one, you could always tell them that “God is watching you behave badly. He won’t be pleased”. If they know any prayers, you can encourage them to say it. We understand, however, that this advice is a tricky one. It is your call how “fearful” you want the idea of God to be in your child’s mind
  • Routine: Do you visit the religious place often? Like every weekend? Or every Tuesday? In that case, try to build a routine around it. Toddlers react very well to routines. It could start with a bath, packing the bag, going to temple, and finishing off with a breakfast/lunch/dinner at their favorite eatery nearby! When they know what to expect, they will be more calm and secure. The chances of misbehaving (especially if they feel they won’t be taken to the eatery if they do so) will be less

Despite all this, if your child still goes on a crying spree, then relax. There is a high chance that more than half of the crowd in your religious place have gone through the exact same situation at least once in their lives. People will understand! If your child is inconsolable, then you can take him or her out for a brief time, help them calm down and bring them back.
What are some of the most embarrassing moments you have had at a religious place? Let us know!