Breaking the Fun Barrier
Be careful how you get shy kids involved. Breaking the fun barrier is not about merely having a lot of fun. It’s not even about having more fun than anyone else. Nor is it about having fun in a new way. Breaking the fun barrier is when you can help a hesitant child to participate in something fun that nudges them out of their comfort…and they like it.
Lots of kids want to participate, but they are too shy to raise their hand and take the step to volunteer. Some have experienced failure in the past. Some are told they are not skilled at anything. Some are shy by nature. And some are self-conscious.
When I conduct Kidz Blitz Live and FX Live events, I often use several methods for setting the shy kids at ease prior to the event. Depending on the size of the crowd, I may walk around and give fist bumps or wave at kids and try to get them to wave back. Recently we have begun shooting smoke rings at the kids prior to the event. It’s fun, non-threatening and it makes them laugh. It draws out the shy kids and plants the idea that our interaction with them is safe.
Kids need your help to break past this barrier. It is critical to their development that they learn to try something new. They need to build a mental bank account of successes (when something goes right) and good failures (when something goes wrong but is still OK). These concepts are applicable in large groups, small groups, or one-on-one. The best time to put these ideas to good use is from the moment kids enter your kids ministry area.
Here are some suggestions for helping kids break the fun barrier in your children’s ministry.
- Allow shy kids the space to not participate at first. Give them a couple of weeks to assess what your children’s ministry is all about.
- Make eye contact with him in fun ways. Make a face. Smile. Let him know he is not invisible.
- Talk to her. Without asking questions, have a conversation offering your thoughts on the fun going on in the group or her purple shoes.
- Let him hold something. Holding an object is a safe way for shy kids to participate. It helps them take a next step out of their shells even if they are only holding something in their seats.
- Use a shy kid’s name in an example from the stage without asking them to do anything.
- Compliment or praise a shy kid when others can hear you.
- Never ask her to answer a question out loud.
- Never ask him to pray out loud.
- Never make him the center of attention.
- Never exclude her as a ploy to participate or as punishment.
Part of a full spectrum ministry to kids requires that you help kids grow in their confidence and social skills. Sometimes small, simple steps can go a long way.