We recently posted an article on managing behavior in your children’s ministry. This post takes some of those tips a step further to help the most active kids in your ministry. Read the suggestions below and then share your own ideas in our comment section.
1. Show love anyway. Hyperactive kids can be frustrating. They don’t listen. They are always fiddling with something. They usually are messing with someone else. They are running. Always running. You say their names at least 100 times during one service. They are exhausting. BUT… they are still God’s babies. Jesus loves them just as much as He loves the children who sit quietly and obey immediately. When we are called to serve kids, we don’t get to pick who we love. These kids likely need love even more than other kids. You think life is tough dealing with hyperactive kids? Try being one! Just imagine having more energy than you can control, knowing that you constantly annoy others, and that adults don’t like you. That’s a pretty tough life for a kid. Shower these kids with love.
2. Set limits. Sometimes we mistakenly think that if we are not loving a child when we get onto them for their behavior. Every child needs boundaries, especially hyperactive kids. Granted, they will push them every single time. You still must remain firm. However, make sure that the limits you set are for the very most important things. Don’t major on minor deals. Don’t set a limit that a hyperactive child can never successfully follow. For example, expecting a child to sit still in a chair for an hour is likely not acheiveable.
3. Give them something to do with their hands. If you need hyperactive kids to sit quietly, give them something to keep their hands busy. Things that work well are a small piece of putty, a pipe cleaner they can bend, a stress ball, etc… This can also backfire and become a distraction, but generally it helps hyperactive kids to have an appropriate place to direct extra energy.
4. Give them something significant to do. Giving these kids a job may make you a little crazy but it does at least two things for them. First it keeps them busy. If they have to pay attention and know when to click a mouse or unstack chairs, they are not going to find other ways to entertain themselves. Second, and more important, is that you communicate that there is value for them being there. They have probably been many places where they got the impression that adults would prefer that they aren’t there. God help us if we communicate that at church.
5. Give extra attention. You have a choice. Either be intentional about giving extra attention to the hyperactive kids or they will find ways that you may not love to get your attention. Generally, these kids are craving attention and will get it one way or another. Be proactive and invest extra in the relationship. Fuss over them, speak kindly to them, make a big positive deal about them being there.
6. Accept that they are going to learn differently – Just because they rolling around on the floor doesn’t mean your hyper friends aren’t learning. They are probably absorbing more than anyone else in the room, but they just can’t sit still and listen. Granted, there will be a lot they miss because they are distracted, but you would be amazed to know how much is truly sinking in.
7. Make your lessons as active and interactive as possible. Hyperactive kids need movement and opportunities to make noise. Design your lessons in ways that let them accomplish these two goals in a productive manner. Include games and lots of interaction. Get kids out of their seats and get them talking.
8. Pray. These little guys have a pretty tough road. Pray for God to work in their hearts. Pray for Him to help you as you minister to them. Pray when they are driving you batty. Pray for God to break your heart to love the hyper kids like He does. Pray for God to help you see beyond the wiggles and loud and constant motion and to see the child that Jesus died for.