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