Kids are loving beings who don’t mind getting muddy to help a friend in need. They have big hearts and feel very deeply about things. I love kids! I’ve been serving them for nearly twenty years! However, they can also be selfish and display a sense of entitlement that is nothing short of shocking. You know, kind of like some adults. But that doesn’t mean you have to play along. You can limit the effect of the entitlement attitude in your children’s ministry. I have!
Does this scenario sound familiar? You set up a special monthly challenge. You tell kids if they memorize their bible verse all month long and recite it back correctly to you, they’ll win a special prize. A few take the challenge seriously and do everything you ask them. A few others get it right a few times. Even more don’t bother to try or they say they lost their paper. Then there’s the “preacher’s kid” who doesn’t do any of it but still expects to take home a prize. (I can say that, I have them in my family.) What do you do? Reward everyone or face the wrath of entitled children and parents? We’ve all been there. So where should you start?
First, come to terms with the fact that you aren’t the parent. Feelings of entitlement start in the home and that’s mostly because parents are overwhelmed with commercials and a culture that teaches their kids that they need, need, need. You can set an example and of course, help parents find a better way. Get the parents on your side and you’ll see things improve.
1. Teach parents to be parents and not the child’s friends. Think about offering some parenting classes or include parenting tips in the newsletters. You see, entitlement occurs when parents want to be their child’s friend. There’s nothing wrong with wanting kids to have things but in doing so, we parents sometimes forget to teach kids the value of earning, what it really costs.
2. Stop rewarding half-hearted results. When you offer a challenge, make the rules clear. Don’t change them as you go along. If nobody met the challenge, nobody wins. Consider setting the bar lower next time if you need to but don’t lower the standard mid-challenge.
3. Explain how kids can win a challenge to the parents too. When you do that, they are less likely to complain later. And you may even get some on board with your plan!
4. Coach them better on how to achieve. Sometimes, kids don’t try because they aren’t sure what to do. Want them to memorize scripture? Remind them mid week via a text message or phone call, “Hey! Did you practice your memory verse?” They can do excellent things but you may have to coach them along.
You can do it!
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.