Wearing two hats
Many parents in church serve in the kids’ groups, and when your child is part of the group, it can be difficult. So how can we wear both our leader and our parent hat well?
In episode 33 of the podcast, Rachel tackled this question for a listener. You can listen to her answer here, or read her four ideas below.
Ask another leader to be responsible for the discipline of your child in the group, and for choosing kids to take part.
If your child is old enough to understand being part of a group (over 5), then I would suggest that you ask the other leader in the group to be the person who disciplines your child as if you weren’t there. This enables your child to have the experience of being in a group like everyone else, and it takes out that power dynamic between you and your child. It also protects us as parents from either over-reacting or under-reacting! We can just blissfully ignore their bad behaviour while supporting the other leader in making wise decisions. I also ask another team leader (or a kid) to choose people for upfront demonstrations or for games. It means that your kid can get picked like everyone else rather than you calling on them too much, or more often, too little.
Make sure you have a good connection with your child before the session begins.
Often when we are on duty our mornings can be stressful as we get everything ready and rush to be on time. When that’s the case, children can come into a Sunday morning already feeling stressed and disconnected from us. So it is worth putting in some connection points before the session. It might be worth considering what love languages they are and making sure you put in that little bit of connecting before the session so your kids aren’t at the end of their love tether! If their love language is touch, then maybe hugging/holding them during the worship, or whispering encouragements, or bringing them early and playing and laughing together as you set up rather than rushing around. That little bit of thought can go a long way to helping our children settle.
Help them understand the different rules and give them options.
Particularly with safeguarding boundaries, it can be tough when our child wants to sit on our lap or talk to us throughout the session. It’s okay to explain to them that if they are chatting to you, it can make the other children sad because they miss their dads or mums, or that if they sit on your lap, then everyone will want to and you don’t have enough space. Give your children alternatives rather than “no”. Say “Oooo I love cuddling, but in here we are going to have side glue… come sit next to me and let’s glue together, hurrah!” or something like that. Rather than giving our kids lots of “no”, we can say “right now, your “yes” is right here!”
Check in with your kid regularly about how they feel.
Ask them, “What do you really like about me being in your group? Why?” “What do you wish was different? Why?” “If you could change something about how you and I are connected while I’m in your group, what would it be?” If there’s something they don’t like or would like to change, decide with them on an approach to experiment with next time and try it. Then assess it afterwards and see what the next step is. Every child is different, and that child is constantly changing, so it’s okay if how you manage the situation is changing too.