How to help Children Get Along

CEF Santa Barbara I want to start by saying that there is not one answer that will fit all. Each child is unique and responds differently. On our part we should not be shocked by sin, and remember that it’s natural to not get along–we see it begin as early as Genesis chapter 4 after the fall! We also need to remember that growth is gradual–none of us teachers are perfect yet and we’ve been walking with the Lord a lot longer than these children!
I personally believe that public offenses should be publicly admonished. The other children who observed the behavior should know that the behavior is not acceptable to us–otherwise that little leaven will start to leaven the rest of the club. Also, the children who have a strong sense of justice must be satisfied that there is a system of justice in our GNClub.
But then we will need to move beyond exhortation to helping the child to overcome. That will need to be done privately and it will take time. (Of course the foundation to change is salvation and if they’re not saved, this is a great opportunity to share the gospel and invite them to receive Christ.) In private we can ask the child what happened so they admit what they did (I think we call it confession 🙂 ). If they won’t admit what they did, we can’t really go beyond to help them on the road to change. You can apply a little pressure by just having them sit alone to think about it until they’re ready to admit (while you’re praying for them!). Once they admit, you can go on to open the Bible to see what God says about it. Perhaps you’ve recently given a GNC lesson on the subject (the lesson on Cain and Abel was relatively recent) and you can ask them to tell you what they learned from that story (the lesson for us teachers from that is the example of God’s patience with Cain, and the opportunity God gave Cain to repent!) or they may think of something else that the Bible says about the issue of getting along with others. Otherwise, be armed with a couple of verses to share with them.
From there you can ask the child if they want to do things God’s way, and if they do, lead them to God in prayer to admit to Him what happened, to tell Him that they want to change, and to ask God for His help. Assure them of God’s forgiveness, and that you believe they will make better choices in the future.
But this is only the beginning! We fall short if we only tell them what they SHOULDN’T do without telling them HOW they can act to be a friend. Give them some examples from the Bible and some other practical examples. Start small but practical. Perhaps before club starts each week you can give them a suggestion of how to “show themselves friendly” that day. “Why don’t we pray for so and so who is sick?” “Why don’t you go say, ‘Hi’ to so and so over there and ask them what they did over the weekend?” “Why don’t you tell so and so that you like their new shoes? “Why don’t you ask so and so if they’d like to kick around the soccer ball?” “If you want what they’re playing with, you can go ask politely.” Be sure to suggest children you know will respond favorably!

When the child you have been counselling starts to behave in a positive manner, they will start to feel better — about what’s going on in their own heart, and about the positive responses of their peers. Also, they can’t help but sense that you care about them since you are patiently taking time with them–and that will reflect well on God their Father.

Commented on by Cynthia Ventrola Struven

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