Last week, I blogged about why I don’t make kids say sorry. We don’t merely want to teach kids behavior, rather we want them to know how their actions affect other children and help kids grow in their spiritual formation even through conflict. Similarly, I also don’t come to rescue every child who is upset or having conflict with another child. Often times, kids are told to “tell the teacher” when conflicts arise with other children. Of course there are times when an adult needs to step in. However, what I see too often are kids who haven’t developed the skills to talk through issues with their peers.
For example, we have a big tv with wii hooked up to it on Sundays so kids can play outside of ministry time (we have a lot of kids lingering while their parents fellowship). It’s there for the kids to play and enjoy! But the problem is, only so many kids can play at once… and they’re not always good about taking turns. Inevitably, I always have a child whining and complaining about how their turn was skipped. I could make everyone get in line and take a number. I could ask each child what their version of the story is. Rather, I tell them that they need to figure out a way to make this work amongst themselves. Our game supplies are a privilege we have through generous donations. It’s not our right… thus if they can’t figure out how to play together and take turns, then the privilege will be taken away. I would say, 8 out of 10 conflicts that are brought to my attention are something the children can resolve on their own. When it’s appropriate, we also take the time to discuss this teachable moment. We talk about how our faith and obedience to God plays into our decisions of resolving conflict.
The truth is… we do ministry to kids and family because we want to guide them to learn about God and love Him more and more… but when you’re doing life with the kids and families, every day stuff just comes up! If we’re not applying biblical principles to our every day life stuff, then our ministries become irrelevant! Thus, ministry isn’t just about our Bible lessons… but it becomes about applying our Bible to every day stuff–including learning conflict resolution skills!