Discipline With Your Style

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Rules are good, but too many rules cast a shadow.
When keeping control is your number one goal, that emphasis paints
church and Christianity as a stuffy, staunch, and stressful
lifestyle. For kids to feel ownership of their class and to build
relationships with one another, they must have a level of freedom.
That means you must relinquish a corresponding level of
control.

Church is fun. If your classroom’s fun factor has
waned along with kids’ enthusiasm, you’re probably exerting too
much control. Make an honest assessment — is it time to loosen up
and remember what it was like to be a child? Trade in those long
lectures and constant corrections for hands-on manipulatives and
laugh-inducing experiences.

Micromanagement isn’t effective. Especially when
it comes to helping kids sprout wings and grow. If your default is
control, reign yourself in and remember that children don’t need to
be managed; they need to be nurtured.

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First control yourself. Make an intentional effort to get
kids excited and interested in your lesson and activities rather
than depending on your tone or mannerisms for classroom control. If
you feel yourself reverting to Control Freak status, keep a handle
on that tendency and instead put your energy into breathing life
into the lesson. If you can pull kids into the content of the
lesson, you won’t have to spend your time on discipline.

Study kids. Go to a children’s venue — a museum,
zoo, playground, or recreation center, and watch kids as they
learn. Most kids enjoy quickly moving from one concept to another
and getting their hands on what they’re learning. Notice, too, that
they tend to be noisy and boisterous when truly engaged in
learning. This is typical of the species.

Take a relational break. Take a leap and
intentionally schedule time for your kids to interact with one
another every week. Ten minutes of free play or talk time is a
great way to let kids connect. Prayer time is also important to
help children relate in a group setting.


You may be a Scaredy Cat if you…

• Are terrified of what’ll happen if you dare to discipline.

• Are scared of parents.

• Are scared of kids (though you may be unlikely to admit
it).

• Prefer to endure classroom chaos rather than ruffle
feathers.

• Feel ill-equipped to go toe-to-toe with a misbehaving
child.

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You have a purpose. God placed you in kids’ lives for a
reason. You’re ministering to these specific children not by fate,
but by God’s providence. It’s your place-and your right-to make the
most of every opportunity.

It’s not a popularity contest. Don’t be scared
that kids won’t like you if you discipline and hold high standards.
Frankly, children today don’t need a big brother or big sister or
best friend; they need leaders in their lives who’ll guide them
with loving boundaries.

Kids will respond. Kids will respect authority,
but like any new responsibility they need you to teach them how.
Your responsibility as a spiritual influencer goes beyond passing
on biblical knowledge to kids. They see your actions and will model
their lives after what you say and do. If you’re too scared to
confront conflict, they’ll view that as a normal response to
conflict. But if they see you boldly — yet lovingly — address
issues, they’ll see that as normal and healthy.

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Don’t be afraid. God’s Word tells us we don’t have a
spirit of fear in our lives, but a spirit of power and wisdom.
(Check out Romans 8:15 and 1 Peter 3:14.) Strengthen your prayer time.
Ask God for courage in your classroom.

Focus on your kids. First John 4:18 says, “Perfect love drives out
fear.” So set aside time to pray for your kids by name every day. A
consistent pattern of prayer helps you focus on the kids and the
issues that most need your attention.

Find out what’s at the root of your fear – and
then do some weeding. If you’re concerned that people might not
like a bold new you, take small steps to let kids and parents know
you’re ready for a change. Focus on the positive aspects of a
better-managed classroom: more learning, respect, and fulfillment
for all. If, however, your fear is still crippling your classroom
management, it’s time to ask for honest coaching from your
leader.

Set the stake. A great starting point for a
former Scaredy Cat is to establish and post a few simple ground
rules. Introduce the rules at the start of your next class — and
return to them whenever you need to. This will help you and your
kids stay on track.

     

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