No matter how much you prepare or how hard you work, you’ll eventually have to deal with discipline problems. At some point, most children are going to act out in a way that requires a timely response from you.

How you handle these challenges will go a long way to make your group a place where every child feels like they can safely test, question, and return. They need to know that despite how they act, they will be loved.

Here are some tips that will help you when needing to correct problem behaviors.

What to Do:

  • Smile and take a deep breath.
  • Keep your voice calm—and use positive language.
  • Kneel to speak directly to the child at his eye level.
  • Help the child understand what was inappropriate about her behavior.
  • Verbalize together what an appropriate behavior is.
  • Recognize when a child is just acting out for attention and simply ignore his behavior if possible.
  • Act immediately if a behavior disrupts the class or could cause harm.
father talks with son
Image credit: kali9/E+/Getty Images

What Not to Do:

  • Don’t embarrass the child in front of his peers.
  • Don’t ask why she behaved the way she did.
  • Don’t threaten consequences that you can’t or wouldn’t actually carry out.
  • Don’t play favorites. Stay consistent when you apply the rules.

After working to correct a problem behavior, encourage and show love to the child so they know that you care for them dearly. In any situation, it’s important to maintain a sense of humor and realize that the behavior isn’t the end of the world.

The way you react will stick with a child. Always correct children in love. Even when we mess up, we can help them see the love of God our Father.

Questions for Your Team to Think About:

  1. Does your team have a plan in place for when problem behaviors escalate?
  2. Think about what problem behaviors you usually encounter in your group. What are some positive ways you can handle those challenges?

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