Lonely Kids

Did you know that there are lots of lonely kids?  One example - kids often refer to school as lonely and boring.  

School can be isolating for many kids.  Research shows that 80% of children face loneliness at times in school.

Being bullied (in person or online) is a big factor that can cause a child to pull away from others.

But if kids have a best friend they will enjoy school and pretty much any activity much more.

And then of course, for the last couple of years, kids have had to deal with another huge cause of loneliness - the pandemic.  A survey found by Common Sense Media found that 42% of students feel more lonely than usual compared to pre-covid times.

This is not just limited to school and other social situations.  It can also be felt in the church world.  Many kids do not want to attend church regularly because they don't have any friends in the children's' areas.  This can sometimes be seen when a parent is trying to drop their child off for kids' services, but the child clings to their parent because they don't have friends there.

How can you help kids not feel lonely at your church or ministry?  Here are some proven ways that can help kids build solid relationships with other kids at church - which will result in them attending more often and engaging in the Bible lesson.

Small groups.  For part of your classtime, break down your class to groups of 6 to 8 kids.  This is an ideal number to help kids build relationships.

Circles instead of rows.  It's harder to make friends if you are stuck in a row of chairs.  You only have 2 options - the two people you are seated between.  And if you turn around and try to talk with the child behind you or in front of you, it will disturb the class. 

But a circle allows you to see everyone face to face and interact with them.

Known by nameEvery child wants to be known by name.  They want to know that someone cares enough to get to know them personally.  They want to know that their leader knows their name.  They need to be prayed for by name.  When a child is known and called by their name, it helps take away the lonely factor.

Pre-service activities.  Be intentional about having games and activities set up that kids can play before the service begins.  Keep an eye out for kids who are setting alone or standing in the background during this time.  Don't leave them out.  Introduce them to some kids and groups and help them get involved. 

Icebreakers.  At the beginning of your class time, use an icebreaker to get kids talking with each other.  Make sure your icebreakers have open-ended questions that kids can ask one another.  If we are going to help kids gain friends, then we need to bring helpful resources to help facilitate friendships. 

Have a greeter team of kids to make new kids feel welcome.  This is a great way kids can serve.  As part of the welcome team, have some kids whose role is to welcome new kids and then stay by their side for the entire class time.  You will need to handpick these kids.  Look for kids who are outgoing, talkative and know how to make new kids feel comfortable.

Watch for the one.  The child who sits quietly by himself or herself.  The child who is not talking with anyone.  The child who is playing or engaging in pre-service activities by himself or herself.  The child who looks sad.  The child who is a first-time guest and doesn't know anyone.  

These are the kids that need you to reach out to the most.  

One of the biggest reasons a guest child may not want to return to your church or ministry is because he or she didn't make any friends.  Convey this to your leaders.  They have two key roles in this:

1) Make new children feel welcome by talking with them, calling them by name and praying for them by name.

2) Help new children make friends by introducing them to other kids.

Okay...to wrap this up...think about this song - the melody and words will pop in your head as soon as you read it.

You've Got a Friend in Me!  

May that be a big part of your DNA as you reach out to the lonely kids that God sends your way.

Your turn.  How do you help kids make friends at church?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.