Enforce the Rules By Keeping the Kids Engaged
Want some harsh but honest criticism? Read on… if you’re feelings are easily hurt, then skip down to the next point and take the chance that you will still have issues with children following the rules.
You’re still here. Ok, ready?
Don’t be boring.
…sometimes kids behave the way they do because they are bored and disengaged with what’s happening around them. Be a more exciting teacher, storyteller, announcement person, offering presenter, welcome guy, etc. Whatever your segment is, make it as fun, interesting and/or exciting as you can.
Recognize children who follow the rules
It’s not enough to just point-out to a child that they’re being naughty. You can often times change the atmosphere and give the rest of the audience reason to suddenly sit-up, sit still, listen, smile, etc. It’s called recognition. And it works. Every kid wants to earn an “A”… every kid wants to be noticed for doing good. When I sense there seems to various children chatting with each other and squirming about. I start my segment by “noticing” a child and making a big deal about their behavior:
“Hey everyone look over here at Chloe! Chloe, you are doing such an great job sitting up and paying attention. I love how you do that… you’re an amazing kid.”
Suddenly, every kid will want to meet your expectation.
Offer incentives from time to time.
Incentives have often times been misinterpreted as “bribes”. Perpetuating the statement: “I don’t want to bribe the kids to behave.” I understand…
…but, a bribe is defined as a payment offered to someone to do or allow something evil.
I define an incentive as a reward. I love to reward kids. But, I don’t offer incentives every time I teach children. You would need to decide for yourself if you should ever offer rewards… what those rewards should be… and how often would a reward be offered.
I enjoy giving out rewards that relate to our series. We did a back to school series – we gave away various school supplies and the kids loved it as equally as when we did an entire series that used a different kind of candy each week so we gave away that particularly kind of candy. We didn’t always just hand it to kids who were well behaved. Sometimes, you could be chosen to answer the review questions or play the review game and we would reward the players of the game. You might consider reserving prizes for special days or when you realize after a few weeks of children not paying attention, you need and incentive to offer to kids who are engaging in the service.
Focus on Ministry More than the Rules
It should go without saying – you’re there to pastor the kids, not be an enforcer. The rules, like any teaching method, should only help enhance the ministry that’s already taking place in your service. I like kids to know I’m firm, but fun… fair and even flexible. I would rather just remind kids of rules and focus on teaching the Word of God.
Next time, (and I promise that part 4 will be last of the “rules” posts) I will give you some tips and ideas for those times when you need to enforce the rules or just remind kids of the rules while you’re still teaching. Thanks for all the great feedback during this series. Please share on Facebook and Twitter – and please comment.