Want children free of stress and oozing kindness?



Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every little kid who had divorcing parents or who have experienced a trauma of some sort showed up in your class stress free? Imagine a group where there was

  • No fighting
  • No arguing
  • No yelling
  • All the kids would want to be involved
  • They would want to form community
  • They would care for one another
  • The group would ooze kindness

Impossible you say? I beg to differ. Many children who live in divorcing and stressed out families don’t know how not to be stressed. It is their way of life and, like we’ve said before, they will bring that chaos and stress with them. It is what they have lived and we must model something different for them.

There are several things we can do to alleviate some of their stress. Let me share some strategies I have learned over the years:

  • Always, and I mean every time, have someone at the door to greet each child and do so with a hello ritual. That might be a high five, fist bump, hug, handshake, elbow bump or just a “Hello (insert child’s name). So glad you are joining us today.”
  • It might mean saying to the child that was new the week before, “I’m so glad you decided to come back and see us again.”
  • Help the child feel like they belong. Don’t ignore their first misbehavior because if you ignore it, they will try again until they get your attention and your direction.
  • Put on your most joyful face. Joy is contagious so feel free to share your joy. There is always more where it came from.
  • If you don’t have a joyful face – fake it. Even faking joyful and happy feelings will help a child with a neuron-to-neuron connection. This phenomenon is called mirror neurons.
  • Be prepared, in advance, and have everything in the room you will need and things laid out in an orderly fashion. When you leave the room, the children think you are leaving them for something more important. Nothing is more important than the children.

Now the most important tip. Place a basket (or you could use a jar or a simple gift bag) on a table close to the entrance to the room. Put strips of paper, some pencils, colorful pens or glitter pens (kids love glitter pens) next to the basket. On the outside of this bag write,

“Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for You” 1 Peter 5:7

As the children enter the room share with them that you want them to write down anything they are worried about or stressed out about on a piece of paper. Tell them to fold their note and place it in the basket. Explain that they are leaving their “cares” at the door because you want them to not worry about anything while they are in your class.

I used this one Sunday with the single parents at my church. They joked about letting go of their worries. One person said they wouldn’t know how to act without all of the worries being in their brain. Not once did anyone bring up any worrisome issues during the class. Yes, it worked even with stressed adults.

Help children understand God can take care of any worry or stress a child is carrying around with them. In time they will come to know and believe that this is possible

As children begin to understand this concept

  • They will be ready to be part of the group.
  • They will want to be part of a community that cares for and takes care of each other.
  • They will begin to see that being kind to one another helps them feel better under their skin and in their heart.
  • Being stress free, even if only for an hour once a week will help the child know what it feels like to let go of worries.

Feeling kind means not wanting to yell, argue and fight with others. It means helping others. Feeling kind means wanting to be part of something larger and reaching out to others.

In the DC4K family at our church we have several jobs the children can sign up for when they walk in the door. One of those jobs is “kindness reporter”. At the end of our class this person reports on acts of kindness he or she noticed during the session. We don’t give out treats, stars or candy for acts of kindness. It is simply a public recognition of kind acts in our group.

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