There will always be a few kids’ that have specialized discipline needs, but we have found through years of ministry in children’s churches, kids’ crusades, Backyard Bible Clubs, school chapels, etc. that setting and adhering to the following few guidelines will virtually eliminate the majority of discipline problems.
Dead Space or Down Time
1. The more structured a service, the less dead space or down time there will be in between segments, and thus, the less discipline problems you’ll have. Each person should be ready to immediately start his/her segment the moment the previous person is done.
Structure For Discipline
2. Have a structure for discipline and stick to it. This is an example of a typical discipline structure. Usually, a child gets one warning for disrupting. The second time he is corrected, he is moved to another seat away from his friends. If he disrupts a third time, he is sat in a chair in the back of the room chair away from the group, but not out of the view of the workers. After this point, the parent who picks up the child is briefly informed that the child had to be moved from his/her regular seat for disrupting during service. If you don’t consistently follow through with the specific steps of your discipline plan, such as giving many warnings without acting, the kids will recognize that you are not keeping your own words. This lessens their respect for you and often brings out the aspect of a child’s nature to keep breaking the rules to see how far he can get before you act.
See What I Mean?
3.The more visual segments with which you can use to teach, the more you’ll keep kids’ attention. For example, use a ballooning or trick cartooning to tell a Bible story (or a biblical concept) instead of just telling the Bible story. Use Rebus graphics for teaching scripture instead of just teaching verses by rote memorization. Rebus also adds audience involvement as it becomes like a game to solve the individual words of the verse. Mop & Broom Puppetry is great having many visual aspects as well as audience involvement. Every person in the room is involved in the story at one time. Gospel magic is a good visual as well. You can find more detailed information on numerous types of visual teaching methods in other sections of the online school.
4. Having a small prize to give away at the end of a service increases attention. For example, when we do cartooning or ballooning, we announce that we will give that item away at the end of service to someone who participated and was well behaved. You can also get small prizes, such as party favors, and pick a seat number at random before each service as a Quiet Seat prize. Announce at the beginning of the service that a seat was chosen at random and if the person in that seat has participated/behaved well, he/she will get a prize after service. Likewise, if the person in the Quiet Seat disrupts service, the prize is forfeited. Mop & Broom Puppetry also can increase attention in that, after it has been seen once, you can announce at the beginning of the service that you will be looking for well-behaved people to run the puppets.
Feeling Disoriented Again?
5. Stick to a similar format so that kids don’t feel disoriented. In other words, the order of service should stay pretty much the same each week, but not necessarily the teaching methods used. If your order is: songs, offering, memory verse, sermon segments, altar, review game, keep that same order each week. However, don’t use the same method (such as ballooning or cartooning) every week for teaching the Bible story or the same method every week for teaching the verse, etc.