On Wednesdays, I am focusing KidZ PreZ blog on preteens. Many churches have preteen youth groups on this day of the week and Wednesday night youth group has always been my favorite ministry event of the week. Hopefully, the Wednesday posts will be helpful for anytime you minister to your 10- to 14-year-olds.
Here are some more do’s and don’ts of managing the preteen classroom, small group, social or event:
Do involve preteens in making rules. You’ll normally find that they will come up with higher expectations than you would have created. They will also be more likely to “buy in” if they are involved in the process. Plus, the time spent discussing rules will help you all clarify the meanings and reasons behind them.
Don’t threaten kids…especially if you can’t or won’t carry out the threat! Preteens will quickly begin ignoring you because of your unrealistic statements, creating further problems. Preteens see through “empty rules,” ones you won’t or can’t enforce. Sometimes making unrealistic threats with great drama will get the point across, but often this will simply backfire on you!
Do post your rules in your youth room, keep them simple, and repeat them frequently. Whenever discipline seems to be deteriorating, it’s time to review the rules with your students. This is especially important after holidays or breaks from your normal routine. It also helps you remind everyone, without picking on the few that you are always correcting.
Don’t give directions in the form of a question. If you want preteens to do something, tell them so. Asking, “Do you want to be quiet now?” will likely get you an honest “No” response. It’s okay to lead preteens; in fact, they want you to take charge (they just won’t tell you so).
Do use attention-getting signals. Flashing the lights or using a simple noisemaker keeps you from having to raise your voice over the roar of the class adding your voice to the chaos. Quiet controls help keep a calm atmosphere in your room.
Do be realistic. You can’t expect every week to be a homerun – for yourself or for your preteens. Be ready to laugh when you make a mistake and to smile when your students are a little wound up.
Ministry to preteens is all about disciplining them so that they grow into a mature self-discipline. Keep your sanity (and theirs) by focusing on doing the right things and removing the wrong ones!