Meltdowns. The arch nemesis of a Children’s Ministry service. We’ve all seen them. We’ve all heard them. We all know them. But why do they happen? And why do the loudest meltdowns always seem to happen during the quietest of prayer times?
Meltdowns begin with an expectation not being met. A child can have an expectation to play video games, but instead, it’s time to listen to a lesson. A child can have an expectation to run around during service, but instead, the rule is to sit on our pockets. Expectations unmet lead to overstimulation. In this little child’s mind, the order of their day and their mental processing just got turned around. They are confused, they are disappointed, they are stubborn…they are having a meltdown.
Step one is to remove them from the stimulation. Get them to a quiet spot, whether it be the corner of the room or going to a different room. Allow them time to gain control of themselves.
Step two is to acknowledge and explain. Acknowledge that you hear what they are saying. We know it can be so much fun to play on the Nintendo Switch, and it’s a bummer that they didn’t get to. But we also want to explain our rules. We need to sit on our pockets so our friends behind us can see the video. We need to stop playing video games otherwise we are going to miss out on the fun lesson for the day. Because we care about them, we are going to help them follow directions.
Step three is to correct. We don’t want to let this moment pass without letting the child know there was a better way to handle the situation. Crying, throwing a fit, yelling are not the way we let our teacher know we are upset. We use our words. We use self control.
Meltdowns are going to happen. We have to remember we are in children’s ministry. Rather than fearing when the next one is going to take place, look at every moment as an opportunity to help a child grow. That’s where the breakthrough happens.
Written by Meagan Moore. Meagan leads our Access special needs ministry, and Side by Side behavioral management classes.