We all have that kid. Or maybe it’s those couple kids. The ones who in any setting, in any environment, at any time are going to be sure to disrupt and draw attention. Most of the time, they know full well what they’re doing. Other times they’re just not paying attention and don’t realize what they’re doing. But to the leader sitting nearby, the sentiment is always the same…
“Dear God, please stop on your own so I don’t have to figure out what to do…”
So this week, we’re going to be super practical and answer the frequently asked question: How do I approach the kid being disruptive?
While the human inside of you may think that a slap to the back of the head should suffice, I would encourage you to think a little deeper into how you can handle the situation. Let me tell you something I learned being a retail manager.
There’s this concept called curbside coaching. And it’s not only super practical, but in my experience, super effective too. Lets check it out step by step:
- You witness a certain student being a turd. Not wanting them to bring down the people around them, you acknowledge that their behavior needs to cease.
- You calmly approach the student. Hopefully this is someone you’ve developed a relationship with. That always helps, but obviously isn’t necessary. There’s lots of kids.
- You invite them to have a conversation at a nearby place that isn’t heavily populated or high traffic. Somewhere just to the side of the action. Do your best not to cause a scene and be discreet.
- While you have the attention of that student and not the rest of the crowd, you address the issue.
- You explain to them how their behavior isn’t just disrespectful, but could keep a person from hearing something they really need to hear. Remind them that they could keep someone from receiving what they came for and that they’re competing with the Holy Spirit in speaking to hearts.
- Help them see that they’re essentially a hurdle in their own race. That God has a word for them too, but only if they’re open to receive it.
Essentially you’re doing just a couple simple things:
You’re helping the student save face. Even if they enjoy being disruptive, they don’t enjoy being called on it. Nor do they like their friends seeing them being addressed by someone with authority. They want it to be discreet just as much as you do. 99% of the time, they’ll tuck tail and apologize. Submission isn’t comfortable, especially with an audience.
You’re reminding them what’s at stake. It’s not just for the sake of obedience, but lives may literally be on the line. Their disruption could be the difference between a student following Christ or not. It could be the difference between them acting out their faith or not. When they’re reminded that God’s doing business on these nights, they typically don’t want to be a roadblock.
You’re telling them that you care for them. It’s not just for other’s sake that you want the disruption to cease, but you also want them to hear what God’s speaking to them. You want them to grow just as much as anyone else!
You’re taking care of the problem. Simple enough.
Sometimes we’re in service and it isn’t possible to lead someone aside and speak to them. In order to get their attention and talk to them, you’d have to cause a scene. It’s in these times that it’s typically best to grab their attention and as gently as you can be without losing effectiveness, ask them to stop what they’re doing. Make sure though that once the opportunity arises, you do take them aside and speak to them. Don’t let them leave that night without a conversation. They’ll try, but you need to make the effort. The conversation is important. Otherwise, they’ll just assume you’re grumpy and they’re not as welcome as they thought.
It’s worth noting that loudly calling out their behavior in front of their friends seems like an effective way to go. Reason would say they’d be embarrassed and would respond how you want them to. But in reality, you’re typically picking a fight you don’t want to have. When you put someone on the defensive, they’ll respond accordingly. And with that, the battle of wills begins. And that’s just not worth it.
So when you see that behavior and want to help keep an environment conducive to hearing from God, think of how you can pull that person out of the traffic and to the curb for a conversation outside the ears of others.
It’s also worth noting that this doesn’t just work with approaching difficult people. It’s also a great tool to use with kids, sports teams, and alot of other areas. The idea of offering guidance just out of earshot of peers works in an astonishing number of places. Often in life, you have wisdom you can share with others. It’s always best received when it’s done in a way that builds that person up!