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How to Talk With Children

Communicating well is very important in children's ministry.

Here are a few tips that can help you be a pro at talking with kids.

Get on their eye level. We forget as adults, what it's like to be a child looking up at this tall, big person staring down at you. Kneel down so they can see you face-to-face.

Eye contact is very important. One of the best preschool leaders I had would get down on her knees and greet each child as they entered her room. She would tell the child, "I am so glad you are here today. I've been waiting all week to see you."

Be positive when redirecting them. Here's an example. Instead of saying, “no running,” try: “Inside we walk, outside you may run.”

Speak politely. Help children to learn to say "please" by being the example. Use the words "please" and "thank you" when talking with them. Speak to them the way you want them to speak to you.

Speak encouraging words. Your words hold so much power when it comes to children. You can make a huge impact by encouraging them with your words. In this post, I share 20 ways you can encourage children with your words.

Call them up instead of calling them out. Kids hear all the time what they have done wrong. Instead of putting them down, call them up to the behavior you'd like to see. Here's an example.

If a child picks on another child - instead of saying, "Stop picking on so and so. That is not a nice thing to do and I am disappointed in you doing this."

Call them up by saying, "God wants us to treat each other with kindness. I want to call you up to God's best. He is kind and merciful when He deals with us. And as His children, He wants us to be the same. Follow His ways by being nice to the other children in your class."

Talk about their interests and show them you care about them. What video game system do you have? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? What is your favorite movie? How is school going? What is something really cool that happened to you this week?

When you do this, kids will open their hearts to listen to what you have to say. You know this quote - it is so true.

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Don't talk down to them. Make sure you are age appropriate. A 5th grader doesn't want to be talked to like he or she is a baby. According to their age, talk to them like you would an adult. Kids pick up what tone you are using. Don't use a condescending tone of voice.

Use the child's name. Children are just like adults. The sweetest sound to them is their own name.

Ask open-ended questions. If you want to get your kids to open their minds and think more, you need to ask them open-ended questions. That is, questions that are not answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. This questioning style provides invitations to say more and to share their ideas and feelings. For example, instead of asking “Did you enjoy Peter’s party today?” you could ask “What was the best part of Peter’s party today?” Respond to their ideas to show them you are interested in what they have to say and that they are important to you.

Pets are usually a good topic when you are making small talk with a child. They will perk up and begin sharing enthusiastically about their pet.

Don't be harsh. When you yell or speak aggressively to a child, it can be harmful and damage your relationship with them. Speak calmly even when you are speaking words of discipline.

I hope these tips will be helpful as you talk with kids. What are some other tips you have? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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