Oct 4, 2010

Effectively Talking with Kids

Most of the stuff I post on this blog comes from real time ministry experiences that I learn from. I was reminded this weekend of some key tips that will help you communicate effectively with kids one on one.

A little 5 year old boy was visiting our church for the first time. He was experiencing a lot of anxiety...to the point where he was doing the crying and clinging thing. Mom, who wasn't too concerned about it, handed him off to us.

I watched this little boy and I was empathetic with what he was feeling. I looked through his eyes. I'm a little guy, surrounded by big people that I don't know, in a new place where I don't know anyone, and my mom just walked away.

I tried the "Hey, let's go sit down and join the other kids for chapel time" with a commanding voice. But that wasn't going to work. The tears kept flowing and his anxiety went higher. I realized my mistake.

I got down on my knees and knelt beside him so we could be on the same eye level. I lowered my voice and gently told him how glad I was he was here. Still the tears kept coming.

I redirected his attention to the chapel that was in progress. There was a puppet on stage. It caught his attention, but he still didn't take any steps in that direction.

I told him I was going to get a little closer, so I could see the puppet better. So I crawled a few steps toward the chapel. After a few seconds, he took a few steps my way and the tears became a little less frequent

I continued to crawl a few steps at a time slowly toward the chapel. And each time I moved, he slowly moved closer. After about 5 minutes, we were finally at the back of the chapel and he was starting to wash the tears away.

At that point, I was able to connect him with a loving leader who got him to sit down next to a boy the same age as him. The tears were finally gone and he was engaged with the chapel. My mission was accomplished and I slowly backed away.

We all find ourselves in situations like this where we need to effectively connect with and talk with kids. What are some tips you have for this? Mine are above in bold. I'd love to hear some of yours.

Posted by Dale Hudson


These are always my favorite parts of Kidmin!

Getting on the kids level is always a winner. Also, sometimes having a prop handy to give the kids... some toy or stuffed animal. I've heard that using the stuffed animal to talk to the kid is sometimes more endearing, but never tried it myself.

definitely squatting down, and because i'm ministering at a new church, i tell them that i'm new too. i point out that other kids are here from their school, so let's go find them and last but not least... find a kid who is already sitting by themselves and i'll ask the kids to help them so they wont be alone. this happened last sunday... i was amazed at how it brought the new kid to life.

Thanks for the great tip Lindsey. I'm going to try that.

Robyn, I totally agree. Getting them connected to another kid makes a big difference. Thanks for sharing.

I think that the big deal here is to relate. I am already wayyy short (at only 4' 11"), so I've never actually considered leaning down (because I don't have to *smirks*).

But, I do say things that connect me to them. Even at 40 years old, sometimes I will say things like, "I'm going to go see my Mom after this is over, too. I miss my Mom, too. But, until it's time to go see her, I'm going to watch here and have fun." (I don't lie, by the way. My Mom is at the same church as me, now. *chuckles*)

But, the important part is giving them a way to relate to you -- letting them know that you are in the same situation they are. Then, you become their immediate best friend of the moment.

Thanks for all the great ideas. I'm going to try some of them this weekend.

ha. me too! i'm going to try the prop thing in my youngest room... great idea... if i can find a hundred of somethings...

maybe sucker promises after? just kidding...

seriously, i'll know which ones are new, so i'm going to see what i can do in the way of security blanket-ish items. gives me an idea, actually of something new to bring into the mix.

thanks for starting this conversation... love learning from veterans, who better to learn from.

@robyn - The interesting thing is that "veterans" can also learn from newer people, as well. It's a two-way street.

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