Hands on top. Everybody Stop! – Crowd Control Tips for Group Leaders

You’re in the middle of the lesson and from the back of the room you hear a loud burp. The room erupts with laughter and chatter. Suddenly you have lost the attention of the class and the focus of the kids is now on the child that burped. What do you do?

Crowd control is a skill that everyone who works with kids needs to develop. Whether running games, teaching a Sunday School class, or leading a small group, as the leader you need to have control of the group.

There is a difference between crowd control and individual misbehavior.

When kids are chatting and messing around – that’s crowd control. Use crowd control techniques to get everybody back on track.

When a child is not keeping his hands to himself and distracting other kids – that’s individual misbehavior.

Crowd Control Tips

Use an Attention-Getting Technique

I am the games leader for kids in kindergarten to grade two at our mid-week club program. The first week of clubs we were in the gym playing. I didn’t tell the kids what to expect or what it meant. I just said it – in the middle of a game. The gym was loud and the kids were running around and I said, “Hands on top. Everybody stop.” I put my hands on my head. The kids stopped and put their hands on their heads and looked at me. Amazing!

There are many different ways to get kids’ attention. You can dim the lights; blow a whistle; use a call and response; clap a sequence that the kids have to copy. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you pick one and use it consistently for that situation. So, for game time, when I need the kid’s attention, I say, “Hands on top. Everybody stop.”

Positive Reinforcement

Crowd control is all about teaching kids how to behave in group situations. One great way to do this is to reward those who are behaving well.

If you notice kids doing what they are supposed to be doing, let them know it! Thank them for behaving well. Reinforce positive behavior rather than negative behavior.

Verbal affirmation is great. Every once in a while, reward the group with candy or a fun activity. Mix it up and have fun with it.

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