Why Do We Discipline?
Our kids’ gatherings are designed to teach God’s Word, encourage fun, and foster growth. These are valuable things that we don’t want any child to miss! However, behaviors that cause danger, distraction, and disrespect can lower the value of these events for everyone involved. So we need discipline so that every child has the best opportunity to interact with God’s Word and other people in the local church context. Discipline is an important part of discipleship:
[Our parents] disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:10-11
Discipline is for every child’s good and holiness.
Discipline is not pleasant at the time it happens.
Discipline produces a harvest of righteousness… later on.
Biblical Truth and Just Rules Help Build Unity
Ps 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” How can we get kids and leaders to be united even when someone might be distracting or disrespectful? Clear truths and simple rules can go a long way. So all of our interactions with kids are based on these postures:
Sin-aware: We don’t pretend that kids are basically good and just need a little direction. Instead, we expect absolutely everyone (including ourselves) to arrive with brokenness that God is mending through His Word, Spirit and people as we gather
Grace-based: We celebrate and model the work of Christ for us and in us, and honor God for all growth. This trains our kids that when God gets the credit for spiritual life and growth, there’s no need for either pride or shame, only gratitude and joy — and deeper faith.
Heart-focused: Our goal is not merely behavior modification, but instead we recognize that kids who look obedient still need Jesus. Obedience is primarily a function of the heart. So while we recognize the importance of appropriate behavior, we see rule-keeping and rule-breaking as the fruit and not the root. Therefore, we patiently pursue heart-level growth in both.
Christ-centered: The good news of the gospel—that Christ is our Savior and Lord—is the core of our teaching and lives.
That sounds like a lot! While we do have robust policies and necessary rules, our expectations largely boil down to two clear instructions: listen and obey. These two instructions are easy to remember and simple to follow. And they help kids avoid danger, distraction, and disrespect.
So what should you do when a child is acting in a particularly disruptive or persistently negative way?
REMIND (a warning)
Get on the child’s level and look them in the eye. Kindly and clearly, give a verbal warning, explaining that the behavior is not appropriate. Give a suggestion for the right way to act or behave and help them do it. Let them know that this is a chance to get back on track.
…If the child does not follow directions in response to your reminder…
REMOVE (a timeout)
If the child does not follow directions when you remind them, remove them from the situation or activity. (Stay visible. Nothing happens in private.) Place them in an area away from the other kids for no more than one minute per year of age.
Why? A time-out removes the child from the dangerous, distracting, or disrespectful situation. And it allows them to take a break, gives them an opportunity to make things right, and puts them in positions to rejoin the group in a successful way.
When the child is being picked up, parents should be informed any time that behavior management reaches the level of a time out. Be encouraging and clear.
…If the child persists in disobedience after the timeout…
REFER (to the coordinator, team-leader or ministry leader)
If the child is still not obeying, refer the child to the person in charge of your area.
The coordinator/leader of that ministry area should text Kelly (757-350-9371) and the parent (phone number is on the name-tag) with the following message: “Sandhurst Kids needs you to return for [name of child] due to a behavior issue.”
As we minister to kids, we understand that we are partnering with parents. So even though it may be inconvenient for them to return to their child’s event, it is important to include and empower the parents in the discipline process.
And remember, though discipline is serious, all of our interactions should be loving and kind. There should be no spanking, slapping, pinching, hitting, or any other physical force as retaliation or correction for inappropriate behaviors by children.
The Door Is Open
We will do our best, but we will not be perfect. Questions? Confusion? Hurt feelings? Reach out to us. Please know that our door is open and that we encourage parents to connect with us any time that we can provide clarity, information, or assistance.
To construct our policy, we used Scripture, experience, parent/volunteer feedback, and resources by Jared Kennedy and Lynne Howard.