It is very important to have established rules and expectations of behavior in Sunday School. But sometimes the right way to respond to inappropriate behavior is to do the opposite of what is expected.
In one preschool class I taught there was a 5 year old boy. He came from a single parent home. His mother had no interest in church at all. His grandparents brought him and his brother whenever they could. This boy was the epitome of getting attention with bad behavior. He broke all the rules and delighted in making his teachers angry.
I am a firm believer in awarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior (especially as regards acting out to get attention.) One Sunday morning, this boy was acting out and it had been going on for a while. My initial reaction was to ignore the behavior. I didn’t want to reward him with attention for that kind of behavior.
But, then God gave me a better idea. Instead of ignoring him, I caught him and held on. I sat with him and talked to him. Initially he didn’t want me to talk to him or to touch him. But I spoke gently telling him that I was really glad he was in my class and that Jesus loved him. And I kept my hand on his shoulder. I wanted him to know that he had my attention – I liked him, I liked talking to him and more importantly Jesus loved him.
Eventually I could sense an ease in the tension and he began to open up a little about his home life. I spent about 10 minutes one-on-one with him that morning. His behavior is still not perfect and he still acts out sometimes, but I believe that he now understands that I’m on his side and he doesn’t need to misbehave to get my attention. It was a wonderful opportunity to let that little one know that Jesus loves Him and that Sunday School is a safe place where children are accepted and loved.
Sometimes the right thing to do is the opposite of what you were taught or expected to do in behavioral situations. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.