Archive of ‘Behavior issues’ category
A few disclaimers first…
- This is not the Funderburke Proclamation of how everyone should parent.
- We are (obviously) not anti-kidmin. This is just a philosophy that we have adopted in our own home and I wanted to explain why we do what we do.
- We are big believers that every family has the right and responsibility to figure out how God wants them to parent in their household. This is just what we do.
Kids in big church is an oft-debated topic in kidmin world. Some churches and people consider themselves staunch family-advocates and believe that all children should be in big church with their parents. Others believe that kids should never be in big church and that children’s ministry is the only place they should be.
Our family lands kind of in the middle. I love, love, love for my girls to be in age-appropriate environments where they learn about Jesus on their level with friends their age. I love for them to develop relationships with other adults who love them and who invest in them relationally and spiritually. I would not have them miss that for the world. Kaylie and Brenna participating in children’s ministry on Sunday mornings is top priority.
But for our family, since the girls were babies, we have felt that for them to only experience the children’s ministry environments would lead to them missing out on the big picture of the church as a whole. It may be old-fashioned of us, but I like them seeing and experiencing corporate worship in the realm of big church. Here are a few reasons why:
- We want them to see Mommy and Daddy worship. I want to model worship for our babies and for them to experience it with us. They will learn about worship and experience worship in kids ministry. But I also want them to experience worship with us as a family, in the corporate setting. I believe there is something powerful that happens in my little ones’ hearts when Daddy is holding them and singing out to Jesus. I believe even when they are wiggly, they notice what it looks like for their parents to worship the Savior. And they join in. And it is beautiful.
- We want them to see the other grown ups in their world worship. Typically in church we sit with the people we do life with. I love that they see their friends’ parents, their babysitters, their “big” friends, and other people who they have relationships with in church and worshiping God.
- They absorb a whole lot more than we think. When the girls go with us, I make them participate in the singing and worship, but allow them to color and draw during the sermon (no offense, pastors). I am always amazed at how even when I think they are totally engaged in their markers and papers, they will pop up to answer Pastor’s question or whisper something to me that is totally related to what he is talking about.
- We want them to see baptism and communion. While our kids’ worship team often brings the kids in to see baptism, that doesn’t happen at every church. I realized once that kids who only go to kids’ worship for all of their elementary and preschool years could potentially not see baptism or the Lord’s Supper in action until 6th grade. These are such essential parts of church life and I want them to see it early on.
- We do want them to learn what big church life is all about. Several years ago red flags popped up in my own spirit as I watched 6th graders struggle with the transition of moving on to big church. They just didn’t want to. After all, they didn’t play games and jump around with motions in there. It wasn’t “fun”. I think that is a disservice on our part. While our motivation is not necessarily to make sure our kids know how to sit still in church, I think it is ok for them to learn that church isn’t always high-entertainment. It is more than the kidmin activities we provide. And, honestly, it does not hurt for them to learn that sometimes we sit and are quiet, even if we don’t really want to be. That’s life!
- We are creating spiritual memories. They are not big huge Disney World type memories. They are those tiny precious, captured moments. And I don’t know if my girls will remember much of it, but I will never forget listening to my girls sing “Worthy, You Are Worthy” so sweetly and out loud together. I will never forget holding Brenna as a baby and singing “God of this City” and asking God to use her to change the world. That’s probably a selfish reason. But there you have it.
I am very curious about your thoughts and what you do in your family? Please share in the comments below!
This is the continuation of a series where we are sharing tips and tricks for dealing with common kidmin discipline issues. Many of these answers were compiled by a roomful of people who work and serve in the trenches. You can see the other posts here and here and here.
- Be prepared for the lesson and recognize points in the story that may lead to gross comments and noises and giggles from the little people.
- Recognize that “gross” is the preferred language of most elementary boys. Remind them of what is appropriate for church and what is not.
- Separate kids from activities when their focus becomes gaining attention by gross noises/conversation.
- Don’t stop the whole class for minor issues that only bother you.
- Don’t draw too much attention or you will have a roomful of 4th grade boys trying to out-gross each other and you!
- I often say that there are certain details and stories in the Bible that God put in there for fourth grade boys. If this is your audience, help them see that the Bible is “cool” by including some of the ooey, gooey details.
- Establish a “hands to yourself” expectation throughout the ministry.
- Have a zero tolerance policy for kids hurting one another. Address immediately.
- Use positive phrases, “We use our hands to help not to hit.”
- Discuss alternatives to solving problems rather than using hands.
- Never, ever use physical consequences to punish children.
- Do not tell the child who was hit to “toughen up”.
- Situations like this can produce great conversations about the Golden Rule and also about turning the other cheek.
- Set specific expectations for adults and kids on appropriate ways to interact with each other. Adults should be trained on appropriate ways (side hugs, no sitting in laps, no touching anywhere that would be covered by a swimsuit) to show attention and what to do when kids try inappropriate ways.
- Always have a female in the classroom.
- Communicate with a child why their behavior is inappropriate.
- Share that everyone has different roles and not everyone can do everything they want.
- Don’t assume that inappropriate talk or behavior is a deeper issue, but do pay attention to red flags.
- Try to set up activities where everyone has a role.
- Listen to a child’s feelings without discounting them.
- Share that everyone has different roles and not everyone can do everything they want.
- Don’t give into a child’s jealousy and give them whatever they want.
- Don’t ever compare kids against each other or show favoritism that will encourage jealousy.
- Life is not always fair, but God is always good.
This is the continuation of a series where we are sharing tips and tricks for dealing with common kidmin discipline issues. Many of these answers were compiled by a roomful of people who work and serve in the trenches. You can see the other two posts here and here.
- label shelves and bins with pictures
- help kids clean up as they go rather than wait til the end.
- establish a consistent, fun part of the classroom routine.
- you could make it a game or songs are really popular. You can find some sample simple songs here or here.
- offer stubborn choices: “Do you want to clean up the blocks or the cars?”
- Include a fun timer that they have to “race” to accomplish their task.
- Don’t expect more than their age group can do.
- Don’t ask if they want to clean up. :) That is not a choice.
- These situations can be beginning steps to teaching about stewardship: we take care of what God gives us.
- Give those who disrupt often a job in the classroom. Lots of times disruptive kids want attention or are bored. Let them operate the lights, computer, etc.
- Create a positive reinforcement plan for repeat offenders. Offer incentives for making it certain lengths of time without interrupting the class.
- Show lots of grace and unconditional love while establishing boundaries.
- Have a plan for temporarily removing the extremely disruptive child. It is not fair to hinder the other kiddos.
- Don’t let your frustration take over.
- Don’t let your correction of the disruption be more of a disruption. Kids ignore a lot more than you do. Make sure that the correction benefits the class rather than interrupting more.
- If you do have to remove a child for being disruptive, have someone who can spend time with that child to connect and discuss behavior, but also to look for discipleship opportunities.
- Assign groups or partners rather than let the kids pick.
- Set the expectation that everyone is a part of the class and everyone is important.
- Have private conversations with those who are doing the excluding.
- Personally give extra attention to the kids who tend to be left out.
- Don’t make a public spectacle of the issue. That will only embarrass your excluded child even more.
- Don’t tolerate exclusive behavior.
- Make sure that you aren’t intentionally or unintentionally excluding kids yourself!
- When counseling a child who feels left out, you can remind them of times that people in the Bible probably felt left out… David when his brothers went to the battle, Joseph, even Jesus.
- Be very intentional about grouping kids or rearranging seating. Separate potential issues without them even knowing. For example, group together kids with red shirts.
- Encourage kids to play/interact with others.
- help kids talk about issues.
- Choose times to ignore the problems and encourage kids to ignore it and move on.
- Don’t take sides.
- Don’t encourage the drama or make it worse by dwelling on it.
- Don’t act like it is not a big deal. It is huge in these kids’ lives.
- At camp we always had late night girl friend drama. In every situation I would talk to the upset girl about Matthew 5 and Matthew 18. One says that if you have offended someone you go to that person. The other says if someone offends you, you should go to that person. I encourage the girl to go talk to her friend and explain why she’s upset. More often than not, a calm conversation inspired by Scripture will resolve problems and hopefully also helps them have a model for what to do in the future.
As we continue our series on behavior issues, it would be bad to not include the following video as our introduction to the issue of biting:
By the way, if you are in kidmin and are unfamiliar with Yo Gabba Gabba, shame on you!
- lots of time biting occurs because little ones are fighting over a toy. Consider providing duplicates of popular toys.
- recognize that biting usually occurs because kids don’t know how to handle their frustrations or emotions. Usually it is not malicious.
- handle immediately with a consequence
- inform the parents of the biter and the bitten. You do not have to tell the parents of the bitten one who the culprit was, and it is probably wisest not to.
- provide an extra youth or adult to supervise the biter more closely for a little while
- don’t bite the biter. Aw, we shouldn’t have to say that, right? But older generations or even current mamas may need to be reminded. While that may work in individual’s homes, it is a pretty terrible plan in a church or classroom setting.
- Provide rules and guidelines for what is acceptable and unacceptable and make sure these are clear with parents.
- Recognize we are in a whole new world when it comes to this type of technology. More and more kids use Bibles on their phones/tablets. How can you utilize this without losing focus?
- Provide drop box, into which all cell phones get dropped when kids come in the door.
- Take/confiscate phones after warning (return after ministry time is over)
- keep (or threaten to keep) permanently Parents would not be happy.
- Don’t demean the kids for having it or being tempted by it..
- Describe cell use as a distration from learning about God and interferes with our relationships with God. (This is true of grown ups too by the way!)
Do you have a funny biting or cell phone story? We heard some great ones in the workshop at Kidmin and would love to hear yours too!
Let’s spend some time walking through specific behavior issues that pop up in kidmin and make us or our volunteers scream for help. A lot of this content comes from the collective brainstorming of awesome workshop participants at the Kidmin Conference. For each topic we talked about what we could do proactively to prevent the issue, what we should do/not do when it occurs, and identify if there is a discipleship moment there.
- give the child something to fiddle with in their hands during the lesson
- make sure lessons are varied and interactive
- talk with parents and learn what works at home and school
- remember they are learning even if they don’t look like it
- Label children or write them off
- Expect constant verbal correction to make a difference.
- draw class’s attention to the child or to disruptive child.
- Often children with ADHD have low self esteem, as they know they are different and often they know they make other people kind of crazy. Look for opportunities to show God’s love and to remind them of God’s love. Also, help them find positive ways to channel the God-given extra energy into ways that are more productive for the kingdom.
** A great resource for dealing with ADHD and other special needs is The Inclusive Church site run by Amy Fenton Lee.
- Teach and remind repeatedly that in this ministry we treat others like we want to be treated. We are kind to everyone.
- Take any child’s complaint seriously. Kids are afraid to tell. Honor their choice to do so.
- Address the situation immediately.
- Have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Kids must feel safe in your ministry.
- Involve parents.
- Don’t tolerate a level of teasing, horseplay, or picking on others that could escalate or could hurt a child emotionally or physically. There are plenty of other ways to have fun.
- Don’t tell a child it is not a big deal or to toughen up.
- Don’t overreact and lose discipleship opportunities with the bully.
- For the bullied: help them identify with how Jesus was mistreated as well as Jesus’ teachings on how we are to respond to “enemies”. Teach forgiveness.
- For the bully: A good lesson on the Golden Rule might be in order, but he/she probably can quote it to you. Rather, discuss some of the reasons we may be mean to other people: insecurities, wanting to be liked ourselves, wanting someone else to pick on, and connect those to what the Bible says about who we are instead.
What are your best tips for dealing with children with ADHD or extra energy or with bullying?