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

June 3, 2012

Teacher Training

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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About Janelle

I am passionate about Jesus and kids and the people who work with kids in the church. I want to help empower children’s ministry volunteers – especially those who work in small and rural churches.

View all posts by Janelle

2 Responses to “It’s All About Respect! Creating Reasonable Expectations for Sunday School Behavior”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Hey Janelle! Just getting caught up on your posts 🙂 At my church in Canada, rather than having a long list of “rules”, I gave the kids 3 main rules to live by at kids events and in their life, and they are basically the same as what you posted! Respect God, Respect Others, Respect Yourself. From there the kids could understand and remember what falls into each category ie: Respect God-respectfulness in prayer time, Bible reading, our language etc; Respect others-listening to and obeying teachers, treating classmates kindly etc; and Respect Yourself-participation, freedom to be who God created you etc. It was easy to remember, and all the kids could tell me the 3 guidelines, and in large group time we would have fun getting them to call out ways to follow each one.


    • Janelle Says:

      Thanks, Kelly! I like your idea of having kids call out ways to follow each one – they are making connections to their own lives!


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