Discipline Tips for Your Kids Ministry

Teaching in today’s world is a challenge but when you are teaching kids about God and His love, the pressure is really on. It is hard to be the perfect example of love and charity when little Johnny stands on the table and refuses to come down. Broken homes and a broken society have all contributed to the lack of discipline Christian teachers see evidenced in their classrooms and children’s churches. As a result, spiritually hungry children may get left behind while we deal with bad behaviors. Besides prayer and patience, use some kids’ ministry discipline tips to make teaching easier.

Establish Easy Rules
In order for kids to follow the rules, they need to understand them. Establish a simple rule system, display it on a poster and post them at kids’ eye level. Use as few words as possible when writing these rules. For example you should write, “One person speaks,” or “Raise my hand first.” Only have a few rules, three to five is good. No more than five as this can be too complicated for little ones.

3-Step Discipline
After the rules poster is created establish your 3-step discipline policy and teach it to all children’s workers. Here are the steps.
• Rule Reminder: When a child breaks a rule, remind him or her the poster rules. Have him repeat the rule with you.
• Personal Visit: If the rule is broken a second time, walk to the child and speak to him privately. Bend at the knees if possible to make eye contact with the child in a non-threatening manner. Tell him he has broken the rule and tell warn him about breaking the rule again. Explain to him what the next course of action will be.
• Immediate Consequence: At the third infraction, there should be an immediate consequence like a visit to time-out, or removal from a game. Threatening to talk to Mom or Dad after class is not an immediate consequence.

Teachers have the discretion to repeat the process if they like or escort the disruptive child to his parents.

Put Them to Work
Before class begins, designate children to specific tasks. Busy work may help the strong-willed, undisciplined child to participate in class. There is nothing wrong with teaching a child how to get “good” attention as opposed to “bad” attention.

More Tips
Here are a few kids’ ministry discipline tips to consider. These will help manage behavior in your Sunday School class or any church setting.
• Avoid repeating warnings. Saying a child’s name repeatedly will only frustrate you. Use the 3-step discipline plan and do not repeat yourself.
• Let others talk. When you talk too much, kids tune you out.
• Never take it personally. Kids with poor discipline are not targeting you- they need you. Do not take angry words to heart and do not hold a grudge.
• Laugh a lot. Lighten up the room by laughing with your kids, even the naughty ones.
• Apologize when you are wrong. In a perfect world, grownups never make mistakes but we know this is not a perfect world. Teach your kids the meaning of humility by admitting when you are wrong. If you reprimand a child that did not deserve it, do not brush it off. The child will not. Admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness.

Be proactive and take the appropriate measures to get control of your class or ministry. Good, even-tempered discipline will give your child a true picture of God’s love. Leave a comment to share your best classroom management tips.


  1. robj25 says

    Thank you, Mimi, your insights are wonderful and doable in any classroom.

  2. Gloria says

    Great Tips! They will definitely help in our children’s church class. Thank you.

  3. Jason Brown says

    Thanks for this. I am a children’s pastor and these are some good ideas. I have a big issue with discipline and respect, especially with a couple kids. I want to be their friend and give them many chances but I’m realizing that I cannot always do that. They keep coming back so I know that they don’t hate me. Some days are better than others but discipline is something I need to work on. Thanks again for this!

  4. Elizabeth Paddy says

    Thanks for the tips, great tips. My best classroom management tip is KEEP THE CHILDREN IN THEIR SEATS!! If they are allowed to get up without permission you loose control.

  5. Laura says

    I teach a Wed. night church class for 1st-3rd graders. When my group starts getting loud and off-track, I will call out a bible verse that we have memorized (We do a new verse every week) and they will recite it with me. We will do as many verses as it takes- usually no more then 3-5, until everyone is alert and with me. They got used to the routine quickly and it’s a quick way to get their attention back on me, get re-focused, and get some good practice with their verses.

  6. Wura says

    Very thankful for the tips, I will use them in my children sunday school

  7. christy says

    *standing next to the child that has a hard time focusing
    *putting a hand on the shoulder of the wiggly child
    *giving a piece of gum or a breath mint to those that listen and/or try to answer questions (had to listen in order to answer)

  8. Konny says

    Yes..I am agree with you. Some children are difficult to follow our rules as a teacher. I always to avoid to be angry with them in my class. I try hard to smile when they make a mistakes, but I show that I am not happy to what they did…I want to show that their behavior will not make me sad, but I need to explain that they are wrong because they do not listen to me after class. I know it still depend on the character of children…but it works to one of my kid.. Thanks God He gave me patient to face them..

  9. Johanna says

    Really helpful tips as I am struggling with a few of the kids in our weeknight program. Cannot wait until next week to try all these tips out. :)

    I do need to mention I found the specific mention of “broken homes” as opposed to the vague mention of “broken society” offensive as I am divorced and my son lives in each home 50/50. We strive very hard to have consistent rules and behavior expectations between both homes. He is a very well-behaved, well-adjusted child. I can reassure you he is not an isolated case. I caution writers, despite space limitations etc., against siting one specific reason or cause for such a diverse issue.

    Blessings on your continued work.

  10. Gillian Larmond says

    My Pastor recently asked members of the church to volunteer to teach the kids’ Sunday School class. Most of us have been reluctant to volunteer for reasons including the fact that most of them are unruly kids.

    However I have decided to undertake the task, as I remember the days when I was unruly and disobedient to God. I made a promise to God that if He blessed me I will do whatever it takes to play my part in ensuring that the Gospel is spread to his people, regardless of the age group. I have been blessed in many ways regardless of the ups and downs I decide to be obedient to God.

    I read the tips you have shared with us and have realized that I can use creative ideas to instill discipline in our kids in order to get the message across to them.

    Thank you for the tips and thank you for helping me and others to understand the importance of teaching the will of God to our children. I know that if this was done in every community we would have a world filled with love, peace and joy.

    Praise God for you, your team and all visitors to this site. Again thanks.

  11. says

    For me this is one area that I have a hard time with.

    It is not a typical sunday school setting, most of the kids that come are from a Muslim background (with parental consent). The kids that come have never been to a school and are street kids. To make matters more difficult, they often swear in their native Turkmen language. Me and the other volunteers only know Arabic, so it makes it tough to know exactly what happened as there are often conflicting stories.

    With the kids, I have found that rewarding good kids helps more than punishment often. Although, obviously if a kid gets in a fight he will get kicked out. However, if he is in a fight chances are that there was not something organized that he should have been doing instead. (IE our fault for not having things more planned).

    Discipline is a very big aspect that is really overlooked. . .

  12. Chris Bowen says

    These are all great tips. As a classroom teacher for close to twenty years, I can tell you from experience that the tips above, if practiced with a lot of consistency, are effective tools. I would like to add just a bit about routines. Kids crave routine. They crave the familiar. As best as you can, have your class follow a simple routine. Kids should always know what is coming next. And practice those routines, too. With younger kids, taking time to walk through work stations, the typical schedule, how you get ready to go to the library or snack, is time well worth spending. At some point, a teacher should be able to simply give a signal, without breathing a word, and kids should know exactly what the expectations are and what they should be doing. It’s impressive to watch a teacher ring a bell, raise a hand, or clap, and have thirty kids get up and prepare for a new task. The amount of time spent on what’s important will notably increase, too.

    Chris Bowen
    Author of, “Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom”

Leave a Reply