Uh oh! Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior

children's ministry classroom discipline

In this series I have been discussing classroom discipline. In the last post I discussed creating reasonable expectations for Sunday School behavior. In this post, I will discuss reasonable consequences to set for inappropriate behavior.

 

 

 

Once expectations are set, consequences need to be agreed upon for inappropriate behavior. It’s important that all teachers agree on the basic consequences to be used for disobedience. Although each classroom will have specific age-appropriate consequences, the general outcomes should be the same.

Here is an example of general consequences.

“TACK Staff will first speak to the child and issue a warning. If the child chooses to continue the unacceptable behavior, they may be denied a privilege or isolated from the group for a time. If necessary, TACK staff will take the child to his/her parents.”

It is important to note that behavioral expectations and the consequences that go with inappropriate behavior need to be clearly outlined for parents and the children in your Sunday School.

This behavioral guidelines & principles document is one way of outlining expectations and consequences. Teachers need to make sure their students understand what is expected of them and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. In an upcoming post I will talk about creating specific classroom rules.

So, all teachers need to agree on expectations and the consequences for breaking those expectations. These consequences need to be clearly outlined and followed consistently.

It is important the teachers are consistent in following the agreed upon expectations and consequences. Children feel safe when given boundaries and when they know what to expect.

Once general consequences are agreed upon, teachers can make specific consequences for their classrooms. Consequences in a preschool room are going to look a little different than consequences in an older elementary classroom.

For toddler classes, inappropriate behavior can usually be redirected. It’s important for teachers to explain to children how we behave and treat others. Consequences usually consist of removing a child from a situation or taking an object away from a child. For example, if toddlers are playing and one steals a toy from another, the teacher should get down to the child’s level and say, “In this room we treat others kindly. Taking a toy away from Jonny is not being kind.” Then give the toy back to Jonny and encourage the toddler to say sorry.

For preschool classes, the consequence for inappropriate behavior could be a time-out. The time-out should only be for a couple of minutes. The point is to separate the child and give them a chance to calm down, if necessary. Always talk with the child afterwards and make sure they understood why they were given a time out. Encourage the child to rejoin the group.

For elementary classes, consequences could be denying a privilege or separation from the group for a short time. Children this age enjoy being with their friends, so knowing they could be separated from them even for a short time is usually affective!

Whatever consequences you choose, let the kids know what they are and be consistent in your use of them.

A quick note about natural consequences: I believe consequences need to make sense. So for children misbehaving in class by talking with their neighbor and disturbing the rest of the class, the consequence that makes sense is to separate those children. Have one child move to another seat.  If a child hits another child or says something mean to another child, they should be encouraged to make it right.
Sometimes things happen that aren’t really inappropriate behavior, but need to be dealt with all the same. For example, if a child spills their apple juice they should be encouraged to clean it up.

Consequences are an important part of the discipline process. Remember, it’s about making disciples. Disciples love Jesus, follow Jesus, and obey Jesus. We need to be encouraging our kids to grow by expecting appropriate behavior & giving loving and consistent consequences for inappropriate behavior.

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It’s All About Respect! Creating Reasonable Expectations for Sunday School Behavior

Childen's Ministry Sunday School BehaviorIn the first post I talked about classroom discipline. This is a topic that many teachers dread and I encouraged teachers to see discipline in a new light. It’s about making disciples!

In this post, it’s all about respect! With the understanding that the goal of discipline is discipleship, the next step is to create reasonable expectations for children’s behavior in Sunday School.

It is important to be realistic about your expectations. Each child that arrives Sunday morning has come from a different situation and circumstances. Remember to consider each child and their limits and try to ensure that their needs are met as much as possible.

With that in mind, it is okay to have high standards for behavior. Build specific classroom rules based on the following 4 goals for your children.

1. Respect for God’s Word

Expect children to show respect to God’s Word as the final authority. This includes respecting God and treating Him as worthy of the highest praise. Using God’s name without respect will not be tolerated.

2. Respect for Adults

Expect children to honor their teachers and all adults with respectful speech and behavior. Sassing or defying instruction are examples of disrespectful behavior.

3. Respect for Others

Jesus told us to treat others the way we would like to be treated (Mt. 7:12). Children should be encouraged to treat each other with kindness and humility. Children should be encouraged to think before they speak and to find encouraging words to speak to each other. Mean, crude, or hurtful speech or actions are therefore not acceptable.

4. Respect for Themselves

Encourage children not to act in ways that will put their bodies or their faith at risk.

 

Children will not follow these expectations all the time. That is because they are children and they are growing. They are learning the behaviors expected of them. It is part of our job as teachers to remind them of these expectations, give them specific examples of what this expected behavior looks like and to discipline them when they disobey.

Here is an example of a behavioral guidelines & principles brochure I created for a church where I was serving as Director of Children’s Ministry. It clearly outlines our expectations for children’s behavior.

In the next post I will talk about consequences. Having clear expectations is important. Having clear consequences for disobeying is also important.

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Discipleship & Classroom Discipline

behavior managementIf you asked a group of Sunday School teachers the one thing they would like help with, the answer will more than likely be classroom discipline. It’s a difficult subject and a lot of teachers don’t feel confident in this area.

This series of posts will give you tools for building a philosophy of classroom discipline and creating classroom rules that encourage discipleship! As an extra bonus, I will share a classroom motivating technique that I have used in elementary aged classes.

First, it is helpful for teachers to understand that we don’t discipline for discipline’s sake.

We discipline for the sake of making disciples. If the goal of Sunday School is discipleship (and I believe that it should be), then loving discipline has to be a part of the process.

Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”(John 14:15)

A chapter later He said again, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14)

A disciple of Jesus is one who obeys what He says. If our goal in Sunday School is discipleship then we need to teach and encourage obedience.
“Discipline” comes from the root word “disciple,” which means “training that molds character, behavior and values.” (Sorry, I can’t remember where I got this definition from!)

Discipline then is about shaping disciples of Jesus by molding children’s behavior. It should be seen in a positive light.

It is encouraging for teachers to see that discipline is more than just making kids obey the rules. There is a larger goal and one that teachers can truly get behind.

Let’s make disciples!

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Teaching Bible Skills – Finding books in the Bible

I believe that Bible skills are important. I believe that it is part of our job as children’s ministry volunteers, as Sunday School teachers to teach our kids Bible skills. This is the first in a series on teaching Bible skills. I hope you find it helpful.

Finding Books in the Bible

Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples of Jesus know their Bibles, love their Bibles, and read their Bibles. Becoming familiar with the layout of the Bible is an important part of this process. Knowing the books of the Bible and where they are to be found in the Bible is a skill our kids need to be taught.

Preschool

Preschool children either can’t read or are learning to read. Children of this age are eager to learn and we should not miss out on the opportunity to begin teaching them Bible skills.

In Sunday School, there are a number of different ways to begin to teach the skills of finding books in the Bible.

1. Encourage your class to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

This is the first step if you want to teach your class how to find books in the Bible. Preschool children may have an actual children’s Bible, or they may have a children’s storybook Bible. Either way, encourage them to bring it to Sunday School and then have them use it.

2. Look up the Bible passage for the story you will be teaching

Take a few moments at the beginning of story time and help the children find the story in their Bibles. First, tell the children what book of the Bible the story is in. In order to help them put it in context, also mention if it is the Old Testament or the New Testament. (“The Old Testament has the books at the front of the Bible. The New Testament has the books near the back of the Bible.”)

Children this age are learning their alphabet, learning to print their names, and learning to read. Once you have told them the book the story is in, encourage them to figure what letter of the alphabet the book starts with. Use that to help them find the book.  For example, the lesson is on Jesus feeding the 5000. Tell the children, “Our Bible story today is found in the book of Matthew. Matthew is the first book in the New Testament, so it is going to be found near the back of the Bible. What letter of the alphabet does Matthew start with? M. Look for the letter M at the top of the page.”

Most Bibles have the name of the book at the top of the page. Encourage children to look for their letter of the alphabet here. This exercise does take a few minutes, but I have noticed children are eager to use their emerging reading skills and show great pride when they have found the book. Once they have found it, point to the name of the book. Ask them to show you the first letter of the word. Then tell them, as in our example, “M is for Matthew.”

For children with storybook Bibles, help them find the story and then remind them what book of the Bible this story is found in. Some Bible storybooks have the reference for each story at the beginning. Show them the reference and make the connection to the book of the Bible.

Elementary

1. Encourage your kids to bring their Bibles to Sunday School

Tthis is so important. You may want to use incentives to encourage your kids to bring their Bibles. We want it to become a habit. A huge incentive for kids to bring their Bibles is when they actually use them. So, encourage your kids to bring their Bibles, and then make sure you have the kids use them in class.

2. Have extra Bibles available

Have a few age-appropriate Bibles ready for visitors or kids who don’t have a Bible or who forgot to bring theirs.

3. Plan to have the class look up at least one Bible verse or passage during Sunday School

Having the class look up a Bible passage takes time – usually more time than you expected! So, always plan out what you are going to have the kids look up. For younger kids, it is best to have the class look up the same passage. As the kids get older and more familiar with their Bibles and better at reading, you can have the kids look up different passages. Give the reference and then encourage the kids to help each other and to share discoveries. As the kids are looking up the reference, talk about whether it is in the Old Testament or the New Testament; whether it is before or after particular books. These questions help the kids to consider context.

4. Make use of the table of contents

Teach your kids how to use the table of contents in the front of their Bibles. The table of contents is a great tool. It shows how books are divided into old and new testaments. Show the kids how to find a book in the table of contents and then to use the page number given to find the book in the Bible. Help the children to understand that different Bibles will have different page numbers.

5. Plan games or activities that will give the kids a chance to develop their skills in finding books in the Bible.

Bible drills – Bible drills are a great activity. They are a fun way for kids to get to know their Bibles and to become familiar with how the books are ordered in the Bible. The rules of a Bible drill are simple. Children will hold their Bibles up above their heads. You will say a Bible reference. Ask the children to repeat it and then say, “go.” The children will lower their Bibles and look up the reference. Once they have found it, they should stand up.

Books of the bible games – There are many different game ideas that will help the children become familiar with the books of the Bible. In an upcoming post, I will give you some ideas for activities that kids will find fun and engaging and that will ultimately help them develop Bible skills.

6. Older Elementary children who have the Bible on their phones or tablets

You may have children in your classes, especially older children, who carry cell phones or other devices. They may choose to use these instead of a hard copy Bible. There is nothing wrong with looking up Bible references on these devices. Children may actually tell you that it is easier, because they just have to enter the search information. As teacher, you will have to institute some class rules for use of these devices in class. Although it is great that they have access to the Bible on these devices, they also have access to other programs as well that could cause a distraction or loss of attention in class. When you make rules about using devices in your classroom, include your class in the discussion.

 

Learning to find books in the Bible and becoming familiar with our Bibles is not an end in itself. It is part of the discipling process. Our goal is to make disciples. Disciples love Jesus! We get to know Jesus and how to follow Him through our Bibles. Teaching children to know and love their Bibles, then, is an important part of the disciple-making process. Teaching Bible skills will help our children get to know their Bibles and more importantly, get them reading their Bibles and getting to know God, who is the main character in the Bible.

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