I've not dealt with this; I'm not a pastor and I met my younger stepson when he was 8. (By which time he was already sure he hated church. But that's a whole 'nother story.)
BUT. I still love today's post! I wrote recently about how I fell in love with Children's Church, and while I don't think my particular church does everything right (far from it!), I do think that our solution on this one is pretty good. Children leave at the beginning of service after a blessing from the rector, and go to a separate chapel service that's modeled after what's happening in the main church - or, in the case of the later service, they do a Godly Play story. Then they return at the passing of the peace, before communion (which we have every week) so that the families are together for that part of the service. Sunday School for all ages is held in between the two later services.
With this plan, everyone gets to worship at a level that works for them (and I must say that Children's Church is currently seeming entirely age-appropriate for me, personally).
The other way of doing it, which I love, is a separate service. I am crazy about my friend Julia's church's practice of having a special service twice a month. They call it Heavenly Sunshine...read about it here. I also have friends in the Church of England who have what they call Messy Church, and I'm deeply intrigued by this also. (ooooo.....Messy!)
I am in church today because I was taken to church as a child. In my post referenced above, I mention that I was REQUIRED to sit still, etc. Fortunately for everyone, I am the type of personality & physical human being who was able to do that. This was years before recognition of ADHD, bipolar, or other chemical brain disorders; if a kid misbehaved, he must just be a bad kid! Or have bad parents!
Guess what: my parents had other children who were NOT able to do the sitting still thing. And there are plenty of kids and parents in that boat. So recognizing where people are, and meeting them there as you are able, seems to me like the only Christian way to handle it.
What do you think?