Seders and Kids


I am starting to think about the Passover seder next week; and the more I think about it, the more anxious I get. Every year my cousin makes a big beautiful seder at her house, and she always seats me and my family at the end of a very long table where we are least likely to cause a disturbance. My two little ones, ages five and three, always get restless, knock things over, and truly make a lot of noise. No one ever says anything to us, but I always feel like I have failed and end up being embarrassed. Do you know any tricks of the trade for keeping little ones in line during seders?

~ Very Anxious Mom



Of course! First of all, be kind to yourself. All you can do is the best you can do, and no one expects any more.

Having said that, here are some helpful strategies. They will definitely help you stay at the top of your game.

  1. Set up for success.

Do whatever you can in advance to make each of your children feel relaxed. Be sure you have with you what you need to keep them occupied. After figuring all of this out, keep giving them positive feedback when and if they pay attention. Then, above all, make sure that you are ready, wiling, and able to provide breaks at regular intervals… before they are needed to correct bad behavior.

2.   Make expectations clear.

Talk to your children ahead of time about where you are going, what you will be doing there, and what you expect of them.  Above all, keep your positive attitude going at all times. Be on the lookout for positive occurrences, provide positive input, and give positive reinforcement every time you observe what you have requested.

3.   Use praise and encouragement appropriately.

Stay away for all the “good boy” and “good girl” type comments. These are praise statements and should be reserved for after the event. What you need now are specifics. These are simple observations about positives that are actually happening at the time. Here are some examples:

  1. You are sitting up straight.
  2. You are using your spoon correctly.
  3. You are helping your sister.

The more you tell, the more you encourage more good behavior to follow.

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  1. Yes Sally those tips are great. I believe planning for known misbehavior and setting the expectations beforehand is key. Also what will be earned (versus punishment or what will be taken away) could be expressed before the activity. Then if they do not follow-through, they do not earn anything. This is setting them up for a huge life lesson that things are earned.

  2. Hi Gisell,

    Thank you for reinforcing these ideas. I do hope they will be helpful to many parents at these very special occasions. The way you described using consequences is great. Best of all would be that the first two precautions (setting up for success and making expectations clear) will cut down on the need for punishment.

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