How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends

By the time kids hit upper elementary, they begin to realize their first major crisis: Friendship.

Kids wonder if they have any friends and if their peers will accept them. To avoid rejection, they consider changing who they are no matter the cost.

This isn’t just something that happens to our fourth and fifth graders. Believe it or not, research is beginning to show that by kindergarten many kids are testing the power of their influence and seeking connections with friends at any cost.

Meaning, there’s a very small window of time where kids can learn how to become friends before they actually have friends. As soon as they become aware there are other people in the world besides them, they start making decisions based on the sort of friends they want to attract.

We’re teaching kids how to be friends while they’re already experiencing their first taste of friendship. This would be like training for your first marathon while you’re running it. You might get a lucky mile here and there, but overall the race won’t end well without some serious help.

Here are a few ways you can help your elementary kids develop friendships.

Develop self-confidence.

When a child is self-confident, they’re less likely to find identity in her friends. Help them find their identity in who God made them to be. Not in what they can do or who thinks they’re cool. Continue reading “How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends”

The One Question All Babies Ask

Guest Article by Deb Springer

Wait…babies ask questions?  “But,” you may say, “babies can’t talk.”

Oh, but they certainly can.  From the very beginning, a baby communicates when he or she is hungry, uncomfortable, sleepy, lonely and afraid.

Parents know that each cry has a unique sound and communicates a unique need.  As a caregiver, such as a child care professional or volunteer, your responses to the infant’s needs and cries answer the critical question being asked from birth to about 1-year-old: Am I safe?

Related: Why Kids Need More Than Just Their Parents

In other words, babies are asking:

Will you feed me?

Will you change my diaper?

Will you hold me?

Will you rock me to sleep?

Will you come back?

Why do babies need this reassurance?

Famous psychologists and child development specialists (aka, really smart people) have supplied us with a variety of reasons why it is important to consistently let our infants know, “Yes, you are safe!” Continue reading “The One Question All Babies Ask”

5 Ways to Reactivate Parents Every Year

The start of a new school year usually means the start of new small groups, the start of soccer games, the start of PTA meetings, and the start of a busy season for parents. This is a perfect time to reactivate parents, so kids at every phase will stay connected to them.

Regardless of how much a church learns about life stages, parents know things no one else knows about their own children. That’s why parents have an advantage the church will never have related to the future of a child. A parent has history.

Just remember, no scientist or theorist or expert can really know a child the way their own parent does.

That being said, churches know something parents don’t know. Churches work with multiple kids in the same phase every week. That means churches can help parents understand general characteristics of a phase so they can readjust their parenting skills.

At some point, every kid will own their own faith, values, decisions, relationships, and future. But if parents don’t reinvent themselves, they may miss out on having the right kind of long-term relational influence. (Kind of like Kodak did when they ignored the digital phase.) Continue reading “5 Ways to Reactivate Parents Every Year”

Presenting Parents With a Plan: Phase Event Recap

Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, Texas hosted a Phase event at their church. This wasn’t a small gathering for parents only, but a full Sunday takeover for parents, kids and every member of the community!

Cindy Fiala, Family Pastor at Preston Trail, was able to join Kristen Ivy on the phone to talk about the event. She discussed what they did, what went well and what they would change. Listen to Cindy explain the full event recap and share her event ideas in the SoundCloud link below!

Preston Trail determined that the best time to host a Phase event would be a week before the new school year began. This was perfect timing since Preston Trail Community Church “shifts forward” to the next Phase and small group in the fall. Continue reading “Presenting Parents With a Plan: Phase Event Recap”

Can You Influence Someone You Don’t Know?

Kids know more about you than you know about them.

People are wired to pay closer attention to someone who has power over their world. Think about it. You probably know more about the President than he knows about you. As kids and teenagers grow up, they depend on the adults in their world to get food, to have transportation, and to pay for something on occasion.

It just makes sense for them to . . .

Pay attention to what you like—so they can sweet-talk you later.

Listen to what you dislike—so they don’t accidentally make you mad.

Stalk your social media—so they can catch you off-guard.

Here’s a relational principle for you: You can’t influence someone you don’t know.

That’s why marketing executives typically spend 15 percent of their budgets to simply clarify and research their target audience.

Kids and teenagers get this intuitively.

They want to have influence with you (in order to get what they want) so it’s in their nature to study you. As an adult, you don’t need kids the way they need you. So you have to be far more intentional about knowing them if you want to have influence.

But if you want to shape their future, they need to know they matter to you. Continue reading “Can You Influence Someone You Don’t Know?”