If you’re like a lot of KidMin leaders, when you signed up for the job, you may have imagined yourself pouring out wisdom to a group of kids as they sat in wide-eyed wonder of everything you said. But if you’ve been on the job for any length of time, you know that’s more fantasy than reality. The truth is that most kids are very well behaved most of the time, but there’s always one! You know the one I’m talking about. If your heart rate is beginning to rise, take a deep breath. Here are a few tips to help you keep difficult kids from wreaking havoc on your KidMin.
Don’t hesitate to separate kids. If you have two kids in your group nicknamed “Dynamite” and “Fire,” don’t sit them next to each other! Some kids just make lethal combinations and when put together, they lose all ability to control their behavior. Simply ask one of the kids to move so they’re no longer seated together.
Have a consistent set of consequences. Having consequences for misbehavior is a way of creating boundaries. Kids love boundaries. In fact, they thrive when trusted adults create and enforce boundaries. State the consequences ahead of time so that all of the kids are aware of them. You might use something like the “3 Strike” rule. Strike 1 is a verbal warning. Strike 2 is a short "time out" against the wall. Strike 3 is a call to the parents. Train your volunteers on how to implement the consequences so there's consistency across rooms.
Include the parents in the problem. No one knows the kids in your group better than their parents. Not only can parents give you insight into the problem, they can probably help you fix it as well. Don't hesitate to pull the parents aside during pick-up time to inform them of the challenge and ask if they have any advice.
Don’t be afraid they’ll stop liking you. A lot of KidMin leaders have a fear that if they enforce boundaries, their kids will no longer like them. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. When you create and enforce boundaries, kids will respect you. And the more they respect you, the more they’ll like you. You might be surprised to find out that the kids you are closest to are often the ones you’ve had the most difficult conversations with.