You signed up to teach kids about God but instead you spend most of the class pulling kids off furniture and intercepting squabbles.
After a few weeks, you may begin to have feelings of discouragement and inadequacy. You begin to second-guess your decision to serve and you may even consider turning in your resignation.
Dear friend in ministry, are not alone. Sadly, there is no real handbook to teach you how to handle discipline problems in kids’ church. Discipline problems are real and many churches are experiencing them. The disintegration of the family and public school discipline policies play a large role in the problems many ministers face today but I am sure you do not want a list of reasons – just some help!
Review these tips for handling discipline problems in your classroom or kids church. Take control of your classroom and get back to the business of guiding your kids into a deeper understand of God and His Word.
Preparation – To put it mildly, undisciplined children can smell disorder. The best way to keep control of your room is to have it from the beginning. Study your lesson, know your material and gather all your supplies before class.
Distractions – Turn chairs away from windows and busy hallways. Talk to workers about chatting during class. Eliminate distractions to cut down on opportunities for bad behavior.
Enough Staff – Volunteers may be in short supply but when you have discipline problems in kids’ church you need reinforcements. The best ratio is 5 kids to 1.
Good Behavior – It is easy to focus on bad behavior and give all your attention to problem kids. Turn that around by recognizing the children who listen, pay attention and participate properly.
Establish Rules – Make a rules poster and hang it somewhere eye level to children. Make it set a “Do” set of rules not a “Don’t” set. For example, you should list “Do have a good attitude.” Also children need to know what the results will be if they continually break rules. Do not threaten but introduce some type of prize, goodie or treat that has to be earned. Run your discipline policy by your director or senior pastor before beginning your rules program.
Control the Environment – Soft soothing music, good lighting and comfortable seating are important for keeping kids happy. Children, even difficult ones, will be more likely to behave if they are in nice surroundings.
Set the Standard – Be the example. Show kids what to expect by being a role model. Come early, be prepared. Be friendly but do not spend your whole class time behaving like a “big kid.” Someone needs to be an adult and if your kids have discipline problems than chances are it is you.
If these methods do not improve your teaching experience, at least nominally, then you may need to take more drastic measures. Sometimes restricting a child from a class for a week or a month is an effective discipline measure. Classes and kids’ church is a privilege, not an obligation.