I am really passionate about “discipline” in ministry. To me (and I think to God), discipline (especially to children and youth) is essential to their spiritual formation. When a student is in trouble, I think their heart is ripe and fertile soil for a “teachable moment.” In other words, discipline equals discipleship.
In a ministry setting, do all the children and youth ministry volunteers have this same perspective? This blog post does a great job consolidating my thoughts:
One of the first things we share with a new volunteerin our Children’s Ministry is our philosophy on discipline in the classroom. It’s really very simple: “We believe that every child has the right to hear the Gospel uninterrupted.” What do we mean by that? Well, first of all we believe that what we are sharing and teaching is incredibly important. Second, we want every child to hear the message. That means we cannot allow one child to prevent others from receiving the message.
Each Sunday morning when I stand before our kids in our large group meeting time I share the same statement: “We have only three rules in Kid’s View and we want you to know all three rules:
Rule Number 1 – Remember why we are here. We are here to meet with others and meet with God.
Rule Number 2 – When someone on stage is speaking you are to be listening. Which means you would not be talking.
Rule Number 3 – Have Fun! If we remember Rule #1 and we practice Rule #2 we will have a great time together.”
Again, I make these same statements every Sunday as a reminder to our kids. They know them so well that they shout the last word of each statement as I say it. Our desire is for every child to hear the message and enjoy their time in Kid’s View. The three simple rules go a long way to help that goal be accomplished.
We also have the Three R’s as our steps for correction when a child does choose to misbehave:
R – Request the behavior stop.
R – Reseat the child in a different area if the behavior continues.
R – Remove the child from the classroom after the first two steps if necessary.
If a child has to be removed the parent is called to the classroom. Rarely does the third R become necessary. Our goal is for every child to hear the Gospel uninterrupted and for them to enjoy their time in Kid’s View!
via CM Buzz
1. Keep them Engaged
When kids are engaged they are much less likely to talk and cause problems. This isn’t always true, but it holds up as a general rule. So, make sure you’re presenting the Gospel and the Bible faithfully, but also make sure you are doing it in a way that kids are engaged. Get them involved, have some fun, convey the excitement and your issues with kids talking at the wrong time will decrease.
2. Have Clearly Defined Rules and Consequences
Come up with a short list of rules for your class. Keep it simple, but make sure being quiet when they’re supposed to is one of the rules. Also have a very concise and clear consequence pattern. Go over both of those every week so the kids know what is expected and know what will happen with they don’t follow the rules.
3. Give them Time To Talk
Build time into your lesson when they have the chance to talk. Ask questions, get them involved in presenting the lesson, have an upbeat worship time. Give them an outlet to speak and they will be less likely to talk when you don’t want them to.
4. Build a Relationship
Kids will have a lot easier time interrupting you and being disrespectful when you don’t have a personal relationship with them. Build a relationship and speak into their lives, and you will be amazed at the difference in their behavior.
No really! Try it sometime when your classroom is really really loud. No matter how much they want to talk, kids also want to know what is going down. As they get louder, you get softer in your voice. When it works, it’s magic! The kids will stop talking because when you’re whispering they want to hear.
Once upon a time there was a young, misbehaving princess who was taken away from her royal parents by magic. Actually, she was taken by a person of magic: The Wise Woman. Through a wild set of circumstances, Rosamond (the young misbehaving princess) found herself in a meager, common home in a faraway country side, with a shepherd and a shepherdess. This was The Wise Woman’s doing. You see, she was wise, and new exactly what young Rosamond needed to cure her mal-nourished character of spite and spoiled-rotten-ness.
The day that Rosamond arrived in the home of the shepherd she acted out something fierce. When asked to do some basic household chores, she stormed out of the house screaming like the spoiled child she was. The shepherdess calmly spoke to an unusual dog named Prince to go and fetch this wretched child. Prince bounded after the former princess and drug her back against her will. Surprised, unsure of herself, and quite a little afraid of Prince, Rosamond proceeded to obey the shepherdess’ instructions and requests. It was amazing though, Rosamond and Prince got along splendidly after this first unfortunate encounter. They became fast, best friends.
Later on that day, Rosamond began to return to her old rotten self, and when she had a moment alone when she was out in the field, took it upon herself to runaway from this wretched family. “But she had not gone more than a dozen paces, when she heard a growling rush behind her, and the next instant was on the ground, with the dog standing over her, showing his teeth, and flaming at her with his eyes. She threw her arms around his neck, and immediately he licked her face, and let her get up. But the moment she would have moved a step further from the cottage, there he was in front of her, growling, and showing his teeth. She saw it was of no use, and went back with him.”
“Thus was the princess provided with a dog for a private tutor—just the right sort for her.”
“Presently the shepherdess appeared at the door and called her. She would have disregarded the summons, but Prince did his best to let her know that, until she could obey herself, she must obey him.”
And so it was “that so long as she neither lost her temper, nor went against orders, she might do almost anything she pleased with him.” …with Prince.
Quotes taken from “The Wise Woman and Other Stories” by George Macdonald
Sam Luce wrote a great post on the “why” of discipline versus the “what” of discipline. You can read the post here or below:
I don’t want to go down the road of what type of disciple you should do for your kids because every kid is different and every family is different. What I would like to talk about is the principles that every family no matter how old your kids are should practice. In my short 36 years on earth working with parents and then making similar mistakes with my own kids, one of the most common and most frequent mistakes parents make is asking “What did my kid do rather than Why did my kid do that.”
In every discipline situation we are forced to ask both of these questions. The question that is easier to ask is “What happened?” Asking what happened is appropriate but to really deal with the problem we have to ask “Why.” The classic story everyone has heard their pastor use as a sermon illustration (I’m not even sure it really happened) about the boy who was standing up on his chair in church. The father goes up to the boy and tells him to sit down the boy refuses the father says sit now or you will get a spanking, the boy relents glaring at his father the whole time. The boy sits down the father thanks him the boy responds by saying “I may be sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.” That is a classic example of “what” not “why.”
For all of us teaching our kids how to act is much easier than teaching them how to live. One of the things I am committed to as a pastor and a father is to teach my kids and the kids in our church how the power of the gospel changes us from the inside out. The gospel is about life transformation not behavior modification. As a parent having your kids do what you say is only the first step to leading them down a path to live the gospel. Whatever your rules are in your home it doesn’t matter, whatever your method of correction for wrong behavior it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you and your spouse commit to raising your kids asking Why did you break that lamp, why did you lie to me, rather than what did you just do.
When we correct our kids solely on what they have done we often send a message that what you did embarrassed me or made me angry. When you correct kids based on their attitude you give them tools to live a life focused not on acting or being a perfect person but you teach them that without God’s help we are hopeless, helpless and miserable. An example of this would be you call your son over he refuses to come you go to him grab his arm to talk to him he pulls away and knocks over your favorite lamp. You get angry discipline your son for knocking over the lamp. In doing that you send two signals. 1. Things matter more than he does 2. You want him to act a certain way. The result is not a repaired relationship of your son to you or your son to his Heavenly Father and most of all you rob your son of experience the grace of repentance and forgiveness. In exchange you teach him how to wear a mask and act like the very people who knew the law but could not recognize the Savior.
When you train kids to change their attitude with God’s help their behavior will change as a result of the consistent work of the grace of God in their life.