Discipline plans often need tweaking but sometimes it’s not clear what changes we need to make. You have an incentive program. You even feature the Kid of the Week in your newsletter. Still little Wendy can’t stop shouting out during teaching time and Jason wants another snack–now! Don’t despair; you aren’t alone. Reworking your discipline plan to cover these points should do the trick.
1. Set an example. Kids will do what you do. When you address other leaders, use the names you want kids to use. For example, don’t call your helper Amy, call her Miss Amy or Mrs. Ledbetter. We want kids to feel at home and welcome but not at the cost of showing respect to other leaders. It all begins by setting an example! Treat your pastor with respect and demonstrate how kids should behave. Kids should never see you “lose it” or scream at anyone.
2. Encourage mastering skills. If you want to design an effective discipline plan, you need to encourage kids to do more than just follow the rules. Raise the standard! Instead of giving out gold stars for good behavior, give gold stars when kids learn the books of the Bible or memorize the Golden Rule. Putting the emphasis on skill mastery will encourage kids to do more than just follow rules–they will want to participate.
3. Be consistent! Make it clear what the punishment is for breaking a rule. Saying, “I’m only going to warn you once more” about four times isn’t effective. You should know what you will or should do when discipline is necessary. For example, when do kids go into time out? When do you call a volunteer to sit with a disruptive child? When do you return a child to his parents? Do you and should you do any of these? Know what to do beforehand and stick to your guns.
4. Remember the child’s age and maturity level. Asking a five-year old to sit through a 10 minute lecture is not a recipe for success. I highly recommend the minute rule when developing a discipline plan. For example, if you have mainly five year olds, you need can’t teach for more than five minutes. If the group is mainly ten year olds, then 10 minutes is the maximum for teaching.
5. Praise Golden Rule behavior. See Golden Rule behavior? Reward that with a gold star sticker right on the child’s shirt. When kids love one another as they love themselves, you’ll see God begin to do great things in your ministry. Reward that behavior with positive recognition.
You can do it! Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.