Building Relationships with Children
Your time spent with children each week is very limited, so it is essential to not only make the most of the time, but to build strong and lasting relationships with them. Jesus was willing to bless the children and we must also be willing to love, guide and develop the children that God has placed in our hands.
Children are little people with the same needs as adults for love, friendship and feeling part of things. Here are ten ways to help teachers build meaningful relationships with their children.
1. Ask for God's Help:
Pray each week that God will help you develop connections with the children in your group. Ask Him to give you the strength and wisdom to love and reach out to the children, and thank Him for giving you the privilege of teaching and working with them.
2. Greet each Child:
Learn the children's names so that you can greet each child as they enter the room or hall. Make them feel that they are special and not just part of the crowd. Don't just say, "Hallo", but give them a hug or a high-five, and then ask how they are. And comment on their clothes, or something that you know about them, for instance if it's their birthday.
3. Talk to each Child:
Spend some time each week just talking to the children as you would to a friend. Relationships are based on two way communication. Avoid lecturing as your goal is to have a conversation with the children in your group. Let them tell you their news and about their week, and then tell them about yours. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about their home life, parents and family. Do they have have brothers and sisters and are they younger or older?
Find out what sports they like and what positions they play in. Do they have pets or hobbies, and how do they spend their time at home? Tell the children that you love them and that you are praying for them in your daily prayer time. Take the opportunity to ask them if there is anything that they would like you to pray for.
Endeavour to speak to each child one-on-one. Find out how they where they stand with God and if they are growing spiritually. Do they have specific needs or problems, and do they require prayer, advice or counselling?
4. Pray for each Child:
Use what you learn about the children to pray for each one. Pray for specific needs in their lives and for their families. Pray for their protection and that God would keep them from evil and doing wrong things. Ask God to help them understand, accept and act on His Word.
Thank the Lord for those who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Pray for those who have not yet committed their lives to Christ. Pray for their Salvation and that God would draw them with His love. Ask that the Holy Spirit will change their lives into ones that will please and bring honour to God.
5. Involve each Child:
Involve the children in the lesson, it's application and in any activities you do. Let them help you set up before class and clean up afterwards. Ask them how they think the class is doing and get their imput and suggestions on how to improve class time. Find out what they like and don't like. Show that you care about their opinion as this makes them feel needed and included. Involvement helps them feel part of the group and will help you make a lasting connection.
6. Play with the Children:
Laugh and play with the children as this is a time to relax and get down to their level. Games are a great time to connect with the children. If you are not leading the game, jump in and play with them. Having fun and laughing with them is a great way to develop a good relationship.
7. Earn their Respect:
Maintain control, but don't be a dictator. You are the person of authority and this gives them a sense of security that someone is in control. They may rebel against it from time to time, and disobedience and disruption must be dealt with in an appropriate manner. But, it is important that the children understand that any consequences are not the result of you being annoyed or inconvenienced.
8. Connect with the Children:
Interact with the children outside of the classroom as much as possible, by phoning them, or sending them a card if they are absent or sick to tell them how much you missed them. A home visit is extremely valuable as you will see their home circumstances and be able to visit their "world". Other ways of interacting outside the normal classroom setting include picnics and children's camps.
Tell them appropriate stories about your failures and struggles as this helps them connect with you and models your Christian walk and values for them to copy. Speak "childrenese" by using words that they understand and don't talk down at them as this is a recipe for them to tune you out! The teacher's goal is to take difficult concepts and reduce them to a level they can understand and act on.
Bonding with children and becoming their friend takes time and effort to get to know them. It is important to remember that you are giving your time to the children and also to God! So don't spend all your time with one or two who require the most attention, but endeavour to build relationships with the other kids. Some children will take longer to warm to you than others, so keep loving on them and it will happen eventually.
9. Say Goodbye:
Tell each child "Goodbye" when it's time to go in the same manner that you greeted them at the beginning of class. Thank them for coming and for their contribution to the class time. Tell them to have a great week, and you look forward to seeing them next week and this will leave a lasting impression through the coming week.
10. Love each Child:
Love them like Jesus does, as their eternity may depend on it! Accept them warts and all and let them see that you care for them. Giving them something small as a present may be the way to start a fruitful relationship. It gives you an opportunity to encourage them and say something that will make them feel good about themselves.
Copyright © Sharon Children's Ministries