In today’s culture it is rare for a child to have the undivided, uninterrupted attention of anyone, especially an adult.
Put these tips into practice while you stand at your kids check-in and greet families.
Teach your team to use these tips every time a child comes into one of your kid’s environments.
Your kids will love it, and the parents will be blown away by how much your church loves kids.
Kids are short. Adults are tall. It can be intimidating to a child for an adult to stand towering over them. Get down on one knee and close the gap.
When you do this, you make the child feel important. It also helps you make a deeper connection.
Smile. It is simple, but powerful. You are communicating without talking. When your smile is saying, “I am happy you are here.” “I’m happy to be talking to you.” “I am happy to meet you.” A simple smile takes nearly no effort and the rewards are astonishing.
Look for a way to break the ice. Put your hand out and give a hi-five or shake their hand. Give them a hug. Complement their clothes, shoes, hair, sunglasses, toy or anything else for that matter.
A few lines I say often.
“Wow is that a new hair do. I love it. I wish I could get my hair to do that.”
“Are those new shoes? Do you think they make them in my size? Can I try those on?”
“Is that a new dress? It is so pretty. Pink is my favorite color.”
“Nice Ninja Turtle shirt. Which Ninja Turtle is your favorite? Mine is Leonardo because he’s the leader.”
When I see a family walking up I always drop to one knee and greet the child(ren) first. This makes the kids feel special and more comfortable.
You are also communicating to the parent that kids are a priority here. Once the conversation has run its course, I then stand up and greet the parents.
Don’t start talking to the child and then get interrupted by the adults and stand up and ignore the child. Stay tuned in on the child. If you ask him a question, wait until he answers.
Give the kids in your church the same courtesy you would an adult. Start and finish a conversation and then move on to the next one.
Kids want to talk. They really, really want to talk. If you get this right when each kid arrives you will have fewer distractions during the large group teaching time.
It is rare for a child to have an adult’s full attention. Ask a question, smile and listen. Don’t dominate the discussion. Kids are sometimes slow at first to share. You can be the one adult that always takes the time to listen. That’s powerful.
Working with kids you will hear some funny stuff. I have stories of some crazy prayer requests. Affirm the request, stop right then and pray. The request is important to them and it took courage and faith to ask. Honor that faith and pray for the need.
Kids have problems too. When things at home aren’t going well, the kids know it and it affects them too. Don’t be shocked if a child reveals a serious situation to you. You might be the only adult that takes the time to listen.
Don’t respond in shock or freak out. Comfort them, be sensitive and pray for the need. Make sure as soon as you can that you communicate the need to other staff and leadership. If you are working directly with kids you’re going to hear some sensitive things.
Learn and know the child’s name. Nothing sounds better than a person’s name. Learn it and use it. You can cheat. I like to stand in a position that the kids have already checked in before I greet them. Then they already have their name tags on. I greet every child by name.
Most people struggle knowing and remembering names. This simple gesture pays huge dividends.
Remember what you talked about last time. If the last time you talked with a child he asked for prayer for his grandma, ask him, “How is your grandma is doing?”. Every interaction is an opportunity to say something kind, to smile, and to make a child feel special.
If you put these tips into practice and train your team to do the same, kids will flock to your ministry. I have kids come find me in all areas of the church building, because they know I will stop whatever I am doing and talk to them.
Which of the ways to communicate with kids is your favorite? What do you do that is not on the list? Leave a comment below.
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