Children's Church Discipline

When it comes to dealing with children's church discipline, we believe in preventative maintenance. We honestly don't spend a whole lot of time dealing with discipline problems because we strive to have a schedule so packed with interesting and fun activities that the children don't have time to misbehave!

Here are a few of the "tricks up our sleeve" when it comes to children's church discipline and getting kids' attention (Note: We never use these methods during the Bible lesson -- only during the songs & games portions of the hour):

  • Eyeballs -- The kids in our children's church ministry are trained to come to attention when my husband or I shout "Eyeballs!" They reply with "Click!" & immediate silence and are expected to look straight at our eyeballs. We probably use this method three to six times per week. I've noticed that when we overdo it, the method seems to lose its effectiveness.

  • Bicycle Horn -- Have a bicycle horn handy; and when the noise level gets too high, squeak it. Everyone must be silent immediately, and the first kid to quickly stand to his/her feet gets a small prize. This gets their attention. We have also used an air horn.

  • Cheer Ball -- You need a (preferably brightly colored) ball about the size of a baseball. Toss the ball into the air and allow the kids to cheer. However, the second that the ball returns to your hand... complete and immediate silence. Each time it gets too loud or the kids start getting out of hand during the children's church hour, toss the cheer ball up.

  • Amen Ball -- Another variation is to throw your ball into the air and train the kids to say, "Amen!" when it hits your hand again.

  • Countdown -- My pastor's wife shared this children's church discipline method with me. She began counting down from 5, getting quieter with each number until the 1 was barely a whisper. By that time, the children were expected to be so quite that you could hear a pen drop. Right after she finished the countdown, she would drop a pen.

  • Cheer Box -- This method of dealing with discipline is similar to the Cheer Ball, except you need a brightly painted wooden box. My little boys & I painted such a box for each of them (their "treasure boxes") as a homeschooling project, and those work perfectly. The ones we did were put out by Crayola and are painted bright primary colors and covered with frog stickers and a clear coat. Anyway, each time you pick up the box and open it, the kids can yell and cheer; but as soon as you slam the box shut... complete and immediate silence (are you getting the impression that we truly expect complete and immediate silence?!).

happy kids

Let me just take a moment to explain what does NOT work in dealing with children's church discipline. Yelling. Screaming. Threatening. Grouchiness. Trying to make the kids feel guilty for not listening even though you "sacrificed all week and worked so hard to prepare this lesson for them." In my teenage days as a young, immature, amateur children's church teacher I tried all of these methods. I can testify with blessed assurance ~ they do NOT work!

The methods above are for getting the kids' attention whenever the noise level barely begins to get out of control. You really should make it a practice to have little tolerance for an out-of-control environment and breaking the two rules. Jesus with children

You will truly find it unnecessary to worry about dealing with children's church discipline much if you just stick to your schedule and keep everything super fun. Your children's church ministry kids will eventually respect you greatly when they become assured that you love them, you really do work hard to prepare for them each week, and you have a lot of fun things for them to participate in... if they behave!

In the event that you find yourself having a serious children's church discipline problem or problematic student, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Hands Off! Do not EVER grab, swat, spank, or physically handle a child in your ministry. EVER. We have found it wise not to even discipline our own children that are in our children's church when they misbehave. The liability issues are just too much of a reality anymore. For more information, take a look at my interview with Christian Law Association Attorney Charlotte Cover.

    happy kids

  • 'Tis better to sacrifice one than all -- Don't be afraid to ask a parent or bus captain to remove a child from your ministry, if the child is truly unmanageable and problematic. Hopefully, your children's church ministry is so exciting that the kid will shape up next time in order to stick around for the fun. However, remember ~ no idle threats. Do not tell a child that you are going to suspend him unless you are truly ready and willing to put your money where your mouth is. You must always mean business with every single word that comes out of your mouth during the children's church hour.

  • Cut him some slack -- If you have a *problem child* who is genuinely putting forth an effort, be sure to recognize and reward him. Do everything in your power to keep him from get discouraged. Recognize his good behavior publicly, if you discern that it won't embarrass him. If his effort is truly outstanding, select him as a contestant for your Behavior Award Game instead of the church kid who wins every week.

  • Consider his soul -- Don't ever overlook the possibility that you may be dealing with a lost soul who needs Christ. Spend some time after class (or have a helper discreetly pull the child aside) and question them about their salvation. Be willing and prepared to share God's Word and offer spiritual help.

Here are some interesting thoughts that correspond with our children's church discipline ideas.

Please share your wisdom about children's church discipline!

Do you have some great ideas for children's church discipline? Share them!

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Read Other People's Children's Church Discipline Ideas

Click on the links below to see some great ideas about children's church discipline. They were all written by other visitors to this page.

Best behaved prize for one boy and one girl 
I display two prizes, such as 2 gigantic Hershey chocolate bars or 2 Nerf foam dart guns, something extra special in front of the children during the service …

Sing an all Engaging Song 
when class has become very noisy and children are no longer concentrating you can sing an all engaging song that will catch their attention immediately. …

Reward System 
Here is one idea that has worked for me. I was having a bit of trouble with the children behaving in children's church, so I made a reward system. I took …

This is not an original of mine. I attended an African Methodist Episcopal Church conference in Nashville, TN in April. These were some recommendations …

Show a Little Love 
I have one young man who has been diagnosed with Ausburgers disease. When he gets out of control I simply ask him to come sit by me and gently lay my …

Clothes pin reward 
When entering the room, each child gets 3 clothes pins to hook onto his clothes. If he or she is disrupting the class, i take a clothes pin. At the end …

If you can hear me Not rated yet
In the situation arises where you have to take steps to quiet down children we found that an sequence of events have to be used to first get there attention …

CLAPPING Not rated yet
When the teacher or leader wants everyone to be quiet they clap in rythmn depending on the age ability. One child said it was like morse code!! Don't …

Every Thought Captive Walk Not rated yet
I work at a Christian school as an lunch, recess, and after school aid. I also put together a small P.E. program for grades K-6. I consider myself a "Life …

Mr. Sin the Bad Evil Puppet Not rated yet
It has been many years since we were Children's Pastors. We used a whistle blow to let the children know they were getting loud along with teenage or adult …

Can you hear me Not rated yet
After a game or some 'exiting' event. If the children are a little over exited, I find that out shouting them is futile and unrewarding - unless one uses …

Parental involvement Not rated yet
Might I suggest letting the youth know in advance that if an individual or clic of children refuse to pay attention and participate...that instead of …

Be Consistent!! Not rated yet
Consistency is the most effective way to gain and keep control of a large, or small childrens church. Stay true to the "schedule of events", rules, and …

When children become noisy, I form my hands in prayer. The children are asked to do the same, as we say the Bible Verse, "...Be still and know that I …

Reward Cards Not rated yet
Make a poster with pockets and then place a green, yellow, red, and black card inside each. Make enough pockets for every student plus extra for visitors …

Coin System Not rated yet
My wife and I do children's church at our church and have implemented a coin system. The children can earn coins by listening, behaving, helping others, …

clap to quiet a group of kids Not rated yet
In an elementary school I worked in if the children were getting too loud a teacher would stand up and say if you can hear me clap once, then they repeat …

Mention Their Name Not rated yet
Sometimes, no matter how enthusiastic I may feel towards children's church, I find that some of the older children are not so enthusiastic and may not …

Dealing with Biters Not rated yet
About biting children: I worked in a daycare where a 2 year old child was biting several times a day. I helped him to overcome this over a period of about …

Props Not rated yet
Props, props, props. Kids love them. Sometimes I use funny hats. I have one with fruit on it and talk about fruit of the spirit. I have funny glasses and …

Coupons Not rated yet
We have found that using candy as a reward for good behavior can detract from the message, so we use coupons that can be redeemed at the end of the service. …

Dealing with the Talker Not rated yet
I have a very pushy, talkative girl in my Sunday School class. To get her on the quiet side I have given her the job of secretary. She has to listen carefully …

You Kids Are Driving Me Crazy! Not rated yet
When attention seems to be flagging or to see if the kids are really listening, I taught them to respond to my statement, "You kids are driving me crazy!" …

Children's Church Store Not rated yet
As a children's ministry worker for almost 30 years, one idea I have utilized is that I have a Junior Church Store. People of the church donate items ranging …

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It's all about love!! Not rated yet
Show much love and patience as possible, along with using as many praise words and phrases as possible.

Make your "problem" child, your Star child Not rated yet
As with many of the suggestions, Positive reinforcement is POWERFUL Stuff! Jesus didn't go around yelling at everyone for not sitting down, shutting up …

Click here to write your own.

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