Archives For kids

Friends

Did you know that if you’re a parent, you can decide who your children are friends with? This plan doesn’t work entirely if you start trying to do this when they are teenagers; but there is some merit to the idea. When your children are little, you are the one that decides who they spend time with and how much time they spend with everyone. Use the opportunity when they’re young to begin doing the little things, and planning for the pre-teen and teenage years.

Screen their friends. It’s simple really. Encourage quality time with those people you want them to be around, and limit the time with those less positive influences. Just don’t become judgemental and separatist in your behavior.

Awareness. Become aware of who they are spending time around and become involved in their social life when the opportunities are there. Regular conversation with the

SchoolBe involved in the social parts of school life. Friendships at school are totally different than church friendships, and can quickly become a loud voice in your kids life.

Be Smart. Specifically in regards to smart phones. A parent who doesn’t know their kid’s FaceBook password is a parent who doesn’t know the company their kids keep.

Make yourself friendly. Make it a goal of yours to become friends with the friends of your kids. Volunteer to drive kids to events, host get-togethers at your house, and do whatever it takes to responsibly become a part of the lives of the kids around your children.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Conversations.jpg

For an hour every Sunday, I hang out with 3rd graders and their AWESOME small group leaders. I bounce around between five small groups totaling about 50 kids. I’m there to help the groups in any way I can: getting them supplies, filling out rosters, helping with unruly kids, etc.

Myself and the leaders…we don’t exactly run a “tight ship.” In fact we run a rather….err…crazy ship. We don’t expect kids to sit in perfect circles for an hour. There is a lot of sprawling on the ground, getting up and down a million times (especially the boys), running, wiggling, heck sometimes there’s breakdancing.

We understand that anytime you have that many 3rd graders together, the goal is controlled chaos with small moments (like, counted in seconds and minutes) of calm and discussion.

But occasionally a kiddo’s behavior will move beyond “normal third grade activity and commotion” into true disruption. If a kid is picking on someone relentlessly, or the only one refusing to let the group have a moment of discussion, or is just being over the top with inappropriate behaviors, then I have to talk about those behaviors with their parent.

Listen, it’s never easy to talk to a parent about what their kid does wrong. I only do it in extreme cases, and I’m always quick to also share that we LOVE their child, we’re THRILLED they are at church, and we want them to come back. But the fact remains…I’m still telling a parent about their child’s misbehavior, which can be an awkward and hard conversation.

Know what makes that conversation even harder? If it’s the very first one I’ve had with that parent.

It’s difficult, and maybe even wrong, for the first time you engage with a parent to be when you are unhappy with their kid. You’ve got to do some work ahead of time, so that when and if those conversations need to happen, that parent will already be assured that you are invested in their child.

How do you make those conversations happen? Here are some ideas:

Be sure you are at the door smiling at parents at arrival time. Say hello to kids, and call them by name.

When you see a kid in the church lobby with a parent, approach them and engage in conversation.

Send postcards and birthday cards to kids in your group.

Share the smallest of wins with parents:

“He was so engaged today!”

“He gave a great example in discussion time.”

“He rocked at our game today!”

“He is always so respectful.”

“I love how he’s a great friend!”

“He prayed for our group today during prayer time!”

Work hard to find ways to talk to parents about the GREAT things that you love about their kid. Even the toughest and rowdiest of kids have value and worth, and those are often the parents who need to hear it the most.

And when you do have to say “He had a bit of trouble in small group today. We talked a lot about being respectful and not disrupting prayer time”, it won’t be the first thing that parent has heard from you. They’ll know that you don’t just think of their kid as “disrespectful and disruptive”, because you’ll have already told them otherwise!

Change-Your-Life.jpg

Those that know me, know that I passionately pursue simplicity in my life. It’s not that I don’t want anything, instead I’ve developed a heightened awareness towards those things I really need in my life. This has led me to sell things I own at a rapid pace, clear out closets and basements with abandon, and learn to live with perfectly dependable “old” things in my life.

In the spirit of a new year, and as we approach the end of our “setting goals” month of January, here are some totally foolproof ways to improve your life. I’m serious friends, these are game changers!

  • Buy new socks and underwear. Trust me, it’ll change your life.
  • Kiss your wife everyday. (After brushing your teeth of course.)
  • Buy a new razor. If you’ve got an electric razor, go ahead and order new blades every 6 months. It’s worth the effort.
  • Only drink one cup of coffee a day. Like real coffee, not those sugary chocolate drinks from Starbucks. Those are great, but save them for special occasions…and breakfast isn’t a special occasion.
  • Train for a 5k with your 10 year old. On a personal note, my 10 year old is kicking my tail.
  • When you first feel hungry, instead go drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry, then go for it.
  • Eat an apple a day.
  • Hug your middle schooler. You’re still bigger than them, force it on them. They’ll thank you for it later.
  • Read out loud to your kids as often as you can. And yes, even the middle schooler.
  • Turn the TV off after 9pm.
  • Take the 2 minutes necessary to tuck your kids into bed every night.

 

SomewhereBelong

My children have grown up in two different college towns, and it has never taken long for them to figure out which football team everyone is rooting for. My kids have experienced Saturday game days with tailgaters everywhere, flags flying on every corner, the sounds of the marching band in the distance, and the chants of so many different organizations all rooting on the same team. They ve learned which side we are on, by which jersey we wear to the games and which logos are on the hats. In the two college towns we ve lived in, it takes all of five minutes for my kids to join the tribe of whatever team calls our city home.

The excitement of college football breeds it s own lifelong tribe, but there are other tribes they quickly wanted to be a part of as well: the kids they eat lunch with, the girls who pass secret notes during school and the kids who round up a kickball game in the neighborhood each weekend. They want so much to be known and to belong to the tribes they see around them…

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at:  http://leadsmall.org/elementary/somewhere-to-belong/

Stories_LeadSmall

Weeks after reading the book  Playing for Keeps, one statement is still rattling around in my brain. The book says,

Stories are just another one of God s brilliant ideas to connect us to what really matters.

As a small group leader, isn t this really my main objective? To connect kids to what really matters? It s the bottom line for why any of us want to work with kids. It s the burden parents carry. It s the reason behind why churches do so much for kids these days. They want to connect them to something bigger than themselves.

- Read the rest of my contribution to the Lead Small blog at:  http://leadsmall.org/elementary/storytelling-that-works/