Unless they’re twins, school teachers don’t often have siblings in their classrooms. In the case of children’s ministry, most churches don’t segregate classes by age. For example, in the church I serve at, there are three children’s churches: 0 to 2; 3 to 5 and 6 to 11 years of age. If you’ve got siblings close in age, your children’s church has a whole new dynamic—sibling rivalry. Perhaps you have siblings in your class? If so, these tips may help you to minister to siblings without turning your kids’ church into a three-ring circus.
1. Different People
First remember that siblings, even twins or those that are close in age are different people. Sure, they’ve probably grown up in the same environment, went to the same school and call the same folks “Mom” and “Dad” but that’s probably all the similarities they have. Whether deliberate or innate, kids have their own likes and dislikes different from the other children of the family. Recognize those differences and celebrate them.
2. Encourage Unity
With team games and class activities you have an opportunity to encourage siblings to work together. Coach them on how to do that. For example, you could say, “Now Jane, you should do the running and Joe you should blow the balloon.” Set an example of encouragement by cheering them both on by name as they finish their race or activity.
3. Don’t Compare
It’s important to resist the urge to compare brothers or sisters. There’s enough natural rivalry occurring without encouraging it to escalate. Saying things like, “Gee John, can you throw as far as James?” may seem harmless but to the sibling, it’s not encouraging. Instead of comparing siblings, or kids in general, say something like, “Wow Sally! That was great. Can you throw it father this time?”
You may be wondering, “Is this really important?” The answer is a resounding yes! As leaders, when we recognize kids individually, we let them know how special they are to us and to God! One last tip, never enlist a sibling “to tell” on another. If there are ever discipline conversations needed, you do the telling.
You can do it!
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.