Discipline is a necessary part of children’s ministry. It’s necessary for loving and caring for both the one we are disciplining and the children around them.
But disciplining can be hard, right? Here are a couple of tips for disciplining with love.
Be Clear on Your Expectations
It’s really not fair to expect children to follow your expectations if you haven’t made your expectations clear. So, make them clear – and make them attainable.
Andy Stanley once shared that he only had two rules for their children when they were growing up. Tell the truth and respect your mother. That was it.
Don’t make a poster of the thirty-seven rules you have for your children. They’ll never read it and never remember them all. Have two rules. Say, “Be kind to others” and “Respect your leaders.” Review the two rules with them regularly so that they know exactly what you expect of them.
Implement a Three Strike Policy
You don’t want to call a child’s parents every time their child misbehaves but you also don’t want to be dealing with repetitive problems that prove disruptive to the other children. So, implement a three-strike policy.
The first strike is just a warning. Explain what they did wrong and why they are being warned.
The second strike means they have to sit against the back wall for a bit. Children have a tendency to feed off of each other, so separating them or moving one to the wall for a portion of the large or small group can be enough to diffuse the misbehavior. Allow them to rejoin the other children after a few minutes.
The third strike is that you call their parents. This is obviously a last resort. You want to avoid disrupting their worship experience if you can. However, you also don’t want their child to disrupt the experience of the other children. So, if the poor behavior continues, it’s appropriate to notify their parents and let them deal with it.
Put Them to Work
If you have children that regularly seem to need discipline, consider giving them responsibilities when they arrive. Ask them to help you organize the small group bins, put away or get out pre-service games and toys, or invite them to show a new child around.
Often a child that continuously acts out is simply looking for attention. So, give them a chance to get positive attention rather than negative attention.
Discipline is not always easy – but it doesn’t need to be complicated. What are your best tips for disciplining your children with love? Leave a comment or shoot us an email!