Children need boundaries.
At social gatherings and even at church after the service is over we often forget that children need adult supervision at all times. Without close management, unsupervised children, running in herds, tend to descend toward deviant behavior, property gets damaged, and/or someone gets hurt.
There are two wise avenues of establishing a wholesome triumphant group life for children at a moment’s notice. They are found in the teaching concepts of “gathering” and “pre-positioning.” Let’s look at each.
Gathering all the children involved in an event to sit quietly at an adult’s feet will coalesce a group in good directions. The instructions given at the time of gathering provides children with clarity and security. Children need to know, at all times, that some adult is at the helm and that an authority figure can be found swiftly should he or she be needed.
Pre-positioning further provides specific guidance for boundaries. Standards are set in this way that help define the event and set the tone of the atmosphere.
The gathering and pre-positioning are where you set (and communicate to the children) the boundaries. When in groups, children need three kinds of boundaries—spatial, activity, and behavioral—for them to function at their best. Following are examples of boundaries of all three types.
One (spatial): “You may play in this area, but do not go out beyond X, Y or Z.”
Two (activity): “You may use this equipment, these objects, these games. You must put them back where they belong before going on to the next activity.”
Three (behavioral): “You must conduct yourself with kindness, looking for ways to serve or help others. Think of others more than yourself whenever you are in a group.”
These two simple management strategies of gathering and pre-positioning children are both wonderfully proactive, and are based on the fact that “an ounce of pre-planning and prevention is better than a pound of chaotic cure.”
Let us value our children and their social events by remaining attentive to their needs. Let us determine to provide protection and security for them at all times. There is no time when children are unimportant. Each social arena is a place to continue to tend, to train, and to treasure our offspring. Parenthood is all about vigilance. Do it carefully and prayerfully for just a few short years, a sprint across time, and you’ll reap the rewards again and again in years to come.
For a humorous homespun display of Mr. Wrong and Mrs. Right demonstrating strategies for managing groups of children, order our downloadable MP4 video.