Here are some ways children's ministry leaders can help kids understand how to live in community with others.
Remind children that as Christians we are called to show great hospitality toward others. When a new person comes to our church, school, or neighborhood, we should do everything that we can to make sure that he or she feels welcome. This might mean showing the person around, introducing the person to others, or even just smiling and saying hello. Teach children that we should not only remember to be hospitable to guests but also to all the people we encounter.
Including Those Who Are Different or Left Out
Remind children that welcoming means including people who are different from us. God gave us all different gifts so that we can help one another. So when we see someone who is left out or treated as an outsider whether it’s in our school, our neighborhood, or even our church, it’s important that we make an effort to bring them into the community because all people are needed. Teach children that we are all part of God’s family and should treat one another like family.
Recognizing and Being a Good Friend
One way of helping children begin to recognize how to treat one another as part of God’s family is to help them begin to recognize the qualities of a good friend. Good friends have many special qualities, but here are a few basics that most children can easily grasp.
Good friends are:
Teaching Children to Make Peace
So how do you teach a child who has not been a good friend to accept accountability? Many of us have trouble saying I'm sorry to other people, even when we know we are wrong. There can be many reasons why people have trouble making peace. Perhaps they are embarrassed about how they behaved, or they are afraid that the other person won't forgive them.
We all make mistakes and have to apologize at times. It can be hard even for adults to admit we were wrong, but we can begin to teach children peacemaking through the following steps:
- Recognize the wrong that has been done
- Consider how to make the situation right
- Ask the person who has been offended if you can speak with them
- Apologize sincerely
- Follow through on the necessary actions to make the situation right
Teaching children healthy ways to interact with others is not an overnight process. These steps are just a starting point. As children grow older, differences among the people in their communities will become more apparent to them. As they develop their own opinions and preferences, the challenge of developing tolerance and understanding for people who are different from them may become greater; however, by developing good skills for interacting with people, navigating differences with kindness and grace as they grow up will be easier.