Connecting with kids is key to any children’s ministry program or activity. When children attend for the first time, it’s important to establish connection and develop truth. With children you know well, it’s important to continue building the relationship. Connecting with kids is important whether they appear outgoing and confident or shy and tentative.
Sometimes we prioritize focusing on parents rather than connecting with kids. Sometimes we’re too busy putting out kidmin fires. Often we just don’t know how to break the ice.
Whatever the case, anyone who leads and serves in children’s ministry must be connecting with kids. Do it early (as soon as they walk in) and often (in different situations and ways).
Here are 7 ideas for connecting with kids of all ages:
1. Make sure you see eye to eye.
This means you need to get down to children’s level. Kneel down on one knee and look them in the eye as you greet them with a smile.
2. Don’t be afraid of (appropriate!) physical touch.
A gentle squeeze of the shoulder, a high five, or a pat on the head can go a long way. Just don’t invade physical space. Some kids can be very shy about someone touching them, just like us big people. So always use touch appropriately.
3. Make kids primary in your interactions.
It always bugs me when I see leaders engage in conversation with parents and completely ignore the kids. How about we give a quick hello to parents and then kneel down to strike up a conversation with kids? Usually this goes a long way with both the kids and the parents.
4. Know children’s names.
I’m terrible at remembering names. But our names are some of the most important words a person can speak to us. It’s no different with kids. In fact, if you’ve been in kidmin more than a week or two, you’ve no doubt had a kid come ask if you remember their name! So find ways to learn and remember names.
5. Have a toy or game with you at all times.
This is especially great for shy kids. It’s amazing what a Gumby or Pokey bendable toy will do. (Yes, these two favorites of mine work great because most kids today don’t know who they are!) Likewise, a quick game of Jacks can warm up a conversation. (Yes, another old school game. But it’s novel for today’s kids, easy to carry, and takes about 30 seconds to play.)