Show Faith in Club Members
Children behave more acceptably if they believe in themselves. Ask club members’ opinions. Examples: “It’s been hard for you all to calm down when Bible Exploration starts. Do you have any suggestions?” “Which color do you think I should use for the poster, blue or red?”
Make sure positive reinforcement follows correct behavior. When you notice correct behavior and mention it, club members are more likely to behave in those ways again. When you give compliments-or even prizes-don’t do it in a way that sounds manipulative though. Example: “Remember, if you’re really good today, there will be treats at the end.” Instead, be affirming with no strings attached. Don’t forget nonverbal communication. A pat on the back, smile or thumbs-up also works wonders.
Model Positive Qualities
Show genuine concern and respect for the kids. Take their feelings and opinions seriously. Display the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Most of all, pray for the kids privately and with them.
Disruptive behavior may come from feeling ignored or misunderstood. Letting children get things off their chests with an understanding listener may resolve the matter. Children need to feel accepted and understood especially when they’re upset. This frees them to relax their guard and look at other options and points of view. Remember, acceptance of the child doesn’t have to include approval of the behavior. When a child feels understood, positive behavior begins to replace negative behavior. The key is reflective listening.
Reflective listening involves:
- Inviting the child to express him- or herself. Ask the child, “How are you feeling today?” or “Help me understand what’s wrong.”
- Hear the words of the child—whether or not you agree or whether or not the child is “right.” Ask questions to clarify what the child is saying.
- Reflecting back what is heard. Echo the feelings you hear. “You’re saying that you’re frustrated/angry today?” Show empathy (understanding), not sympathy or pity. Accept rather than reason; empathize rather than moralize, listen rather than correct, and reflect back rather than warn or threaten.