Our guest blogger today is Dona Eggar. Dona is an Awana commander at Bloomingdale Church in Bloomingdale, Illinois and often does workshops at Awana conferences. This past fall, she did a workshop entitled Handling Unruly Children; a workshop that we thought you might find helpful.
While discipline can definitely be a tough subject to talk about, Dona’s guidelines are rooted in one word: encouragement. That’s important for us to remember. Here’s what she had to say.
The first key to discipling an unruly child is for the leader to be self-disciplined.
In other words, a leader needs to …
Have a creative lesson prepared.
Have visuals prepared and in one place.
Be prayed up.
Be focused on the children – no talking with other adults. (You can do that before or after the meeting.)
Then (and only then) the leader can move to the child …
Discipling potentially unruly children …
Do so with prayer. Pray before class, during class and after class.
Do so with respect. Sit next to the child, face-to-face. Use a kind tone of voice, the way you would want someone to talk to you. Make eye contact (that means look at them and make sure they are looking back at you).
Do so without an audience. Privately (but in view of other leaders) talk with the child. You don’t want to embarrass the child by talking to her in front of other kids. And knowing she has an audience will make her defensive.
Do so with love. (I Corinthians 13:4-8) Speak the truth in love.
Do so with a specific goal of behavior in mind. Don’t just say “you’re being bad,” or “you’re being good.” Use specifics. “We need to sit at our tables in our chairs and we’ll be very quiet so we can listen to the teacher.” They need to know exactly what you’re asking. You can ask them what God says in His Word about listening and obeying.
Do so with consistency. The same rules apply for everyone with the same application to every child every week. (If the boundary moves one, they’ll push it again. If you deal with it in one child, then it has to be dealt with in all children.)
Do so with a weekly clean slate. Deal with the problem, explain the issue, pray for the child and give a clean, fresh start each week. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Do so with a plan. Have back-up support in place and make sure you know who and what it is. Talk it over with your director or other person in charge.
If you want the kids to listen, have something prepared worth listening to.