Contrary to popular belief (or suspicion!) kids do not wake up on Sunday morning and pray, “Lord, help me take my teacher(s) over the edge today!” When children show up at your classroom door at church, they bring with them all of the baggage that life brings. And often, these issues occurring in their lives, help precipitate unacceptable behavior. Let’s look at a few of these reasons. After each you’ll find a quick tip about how to reach these problematic kids:
- Skills (the lack of) – If a child feels inadequate in certain areas of physical or mental growth, he will sometimes act out in order to cover up the deficiency. Don’t expect him to be a miniature adult and show him respect.
- Unmet needs – When a child shows up hungry, rushed, or disheveled, she may need food, time, and attention. Pray for the child and his family by name. Ask God to let you see her through His eyes.
- Lack of belonging – When children feel left out, they struggle with feelings of not being accepted/included. Be sure to provide a variety of learning approaches so that each child feels included.
- Power – All kids need to know “who is in charge” in this classroom. Give yourself permission to say, “In Mr. Jerry’s room, these are the rules.” You can only control what goes on in your classroom.
- Attention – Children learn very early if the only way to get attention is to misbehave. Purpose to give all children your attention.
- Revenge – When children feel hurt or angry, they often lash out by hitting or hurting others. Remind them to use their “words” to help friends understand what they are feeling.
- Setting – The teacher’s lack of preparation can immediately cause behavior issues. Make sure you have planned for and gathered enough resources to keep the children busy discovering truths about God and Jesus.
- Medical issues – Some children are struggling with allergies and learning disabilities. Be sure to gather information on each child and understand better the handicap any of them have.
- Unloved – Some children feel neglected by the male or female role model in their homes. Be sure to enlist men to teach in your ministry. God’s plan has always been to provide a balance of gender role models for children. Including men in your classroom will often have an immediate effect on the tone of the learning environment.
Jerry Vogel is an Editorial Ministry Specialist in LifeWay Kids. He is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and has served over 40 years in Kids Ministry at the local church level as well as at LifeWay. Jerry currently teaches four-year-olds at his church.