Over the past two weeks, I’ve been providing you with some “do’s” and “don’ts” of classroom management in preteen ministry. Of course, the most important “do” is to give preteens clearly defined rules, boundaries within which to live in your classroom or program. While at the same time, letting them know how much they are loved by you…unconditionally…no matter how they behave.
Don’t ever leave a class to retrieve something you forgot. Similar to coming late, leaving the room after the class has started is simply asking for trouble.
Do rely on the power of prayer. The more a student “pushes” your buttons, the more you should pray for him. Ask God to give you insight into your preteen’s needs, desires, interests, and the ability to meet him where he lives.
Don’t EVER humiliate or devalue a student. This includes a self-imposed ban on yelling, blaming, shaming or labeling kids. Allow every preteen to maintain a sense of self-worth and to have a fresh start every day he attends your class.
Do create a positive, loving atmosphere in your classroom. Express your love to each student by looking her in the eye, using her name, giving her appropriate physical affection, and as much focused attention as you can muster. When a student feels loved, he will behave his very best.
Christian psychologist Larry Crabb gives us this insight into disciplining children of any age:
“Children, I suspect, would become more manageable and infinitely more loveable if parents [and church leaders] would answer, properly and with some consistency, a few elementary questions that all kids ask. First, ‘Am I loved?’ Correct answer: ‘Yes, deeply – and here’s the unmistakable evidence of my rich, committed involvement with you.’ Second, ‘Can I get my own way?’ Correct answer: ‘No, not without cost – and here is a sample of the painful consequences that result from bucking against God’s plan'” (Larry Crabb, Understanding People, p. 18).
Like our Heavenly Father does with us, we must love our students just the way they are and too much to let them stay that way!