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Jodi Hooper's picture

How to Get a Handle on a Challenging Child

Last night at our kids program, we had two students who were having a very hard time settling down and settling in. They were a bit of a handful throughout the evening, and by the time we got to our small groups, they were not about to comply.

So without a second thought, the grade director and the program director sprang into action. Instinctively, separately, each took one of the boys. They stayed in plain sight of the main group, but they each found a spot to sit and have a private conversation. I wandered nearby, just see how it was going with each child. My heart swelled when I overheard their conversations. Neither adult was lecturing their boy on how disruptive they had been or what a chore it was to have them at church. Just the opposite: Each adult was actually going through the small group lesson with their respective child. Both adults were pouring out the truth that the child needed. They were asking open-ended questions to help the child reveal what’s really going on deep within. They were laying bare the Word of God that changes hearts and does not return void.

If you run a kids’ program, pray for extra adults who are able to give this one-on-one attention when a child needs it. Some kids are having a really rough time at home. Some kids never get the attention they crave. Some kids are just having an off night. Some kids’ lives will be changed when one adult takes the time to have a meaningful conversation with them. Another benefit of this personal attention is that it allows the adult to find out what needs the family might have so the church can reach out to help. 

I know many directors–especially at small churches–will read this and think, “If only I had the man-power to have ‘extra’ adults!” But truly, there are many people who would never be comfortable leading an entire group, but who would feel entirely different about having one-on-one dialogue. Do you know someone with a pastoring heart? Someone who may be quiet, but is very patient and kind? Pray and ask God who that perfect fit might be. When a name comes to you, observe them for a while and see if the Spirit confirms. Then go to the person and tell them what qualities you see in them that lead you to believe they would be great in this situation. God is a great provider; ask Him to provide this very vital component for your ministry.

(Of course, every adult working with kids must be properly vetted – know their testimony, their core beliefs, and do a proper background check.)

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