Sulking. Whining. Crying. Pretending to be hurt or sick.
You’ve seen pouting before, right?
But what do you do about it in class?
Don’t Reward Unwanted Behavior
First, don’t reward unwanted behavior. Rewards for pouting could look like this:
- Giving attention: <in a sympathetic voice>“Oh, Caleb, what’s wrong?”
- Stopping the lesson: <in a cheery teacher voice> “Let’s all clap to bring Caleb back into the circle.”
- Caving in: <in a frustrated voice> “Here, Caleb, just take the toy!”
Pouting is a learned behavior. If a child has learned that pouting works, he’s going to pout. For the sake of your sanity and the child’s own success, be prepared to deal with pouting.
Failure often stops manipulative behaviors.
If pouting doesn’t work, the child will try other ideas.
Highlight Good Behavior
When a habitual pouter doesn’t pout, make sure to recognize it, being specific and direct.
For example, you could say, “Caleb, I’m so proud of you for letting David have a turn!” Be sure to encourage children when they make good choices—kind words go a long way!
Keep an eye out for a child who’s manipulating other children.
Offer opportunities to make better choices: “Caleb, you made Alex think you were sad about not having the red marker. What might be a better way to get it?”
Remove the Behavior
Some children go to extremes with their pouting practices—disrupting class, or even acting out in ways that could hurt themselves or others.
If this happens, follow your church’s discipline strategy.
If you don’t know what to do, call, text, or send someone for help.
The child may need to be taken somewhere where he has space and time to calm down.
Remember that Children’s Ministry Is Family Ministry
Engage the child’s parents, if you can.
If you have an incident in class, talk with them and get their feedback on how they handle pouting at home.
Knowing the parents’ strategies can help you as you reinforce good behavior in your group.
And partnering with parents in their at-home efforts is always helpful!
You will help this child—and everyone else—when you show that pouting is ineffective and unhelpful.
Consistently model love, and remind your group that loving one another means thinking of others first.
Questions for Your Team to Think About:
- What’s your strategy for pouting?
- How have your partnered with parents?
- When is the best time for you to engage with parents?