How to Deal with a Runner in Your Kids’ Ministry

This 2-MINUTE TRAINING VIDEO will help your volunteers manage their classes when a child tries to escape.
2 min read

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So, a new child comes in and the person dropping her off mentions, “Keep an eye on her—she’s a runner.”

What do you do?

In these scenarios, start by changing your mindset. These are super-students who just need a little extra help!

Make sure your classroom management plans include super strategies for super-student scenarios.

Remember, super students have something a little extra going on with them—extra needs , extra challenges, or just extra stuff going on in their lives right now.

Make sure your classroom management plans include super strategies for super-student scenarios.

In this scenario, you’ve got a child who likes to try to escape.

Think about it: why do kids run?

There can be lots of reasons, but two of the main ones are ANXIETY and BOREDOM.

So, what do you do with someone described as a “runner”? Head off ANXIETY and BOREDOM.

Be Welcoming

Make her feel extra welcome.

Give a volunteer or an older student the task of especially keeping an eye out and being a buddy to the new child.

Create an Obstacle

In a classroom scenario where you’re the only leader in the room, place yourself between the group and the door.

Make Friendly Eye Contact

Make sure you keep making friendly eye contact with the child. Try using her name and involving her in demonstrations or giving her a “job” to do in the class—like passing out papers.

Watch for Signs of Overstimulation

Remember that some children get overstimulated when the noise level and activity level in a large group rises.

If you notice that happening, bring the child beside you or by another volunteer who can talk to her and keep her calm.

Be Compassionate and Patient

Remember, anxiety presents itself in different ways in different people. But some common ways it’s seen in children are:

  • Shutting down
  • Restlessness
  • Anger

Watch out for these signs and be compassionate and patient in your responses.

Have Extra Activities on Hand

If you notice the child not paying attention and seeming to be bored, and other strategies have not worked, have quiet-time activities on hand in a corner of the room—sensory tubs are great for times like these.

Or try coloring pages, play-clay, puzzles, or maze pages (depending on the age of the child).

When you have super strategies in place, super-student scenarios like these don’t have to be super stressful!

When you have super strategies in place, super-student scenarios like these don’t have to be super stressful!

Questions for Your Team to Think About:

  • Has anyone in your ministry had a child who escaped? What did they do?
  • What’s your go-to strategy for heading off anxiety and boredom?

Did you know? You can get FREE lessons from any of David C Cook’s curriculum programs. If you’re looking to try something new, we don’t want you to miss out!

Did you know? You can get FREE lessons from any of David C Cook’s curriculum programs. If you’re looking to try something new, we don’t want you to miss out!

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  Updated on October 3, 2019

About the Author

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

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