As a leader, you want to be able to help kids and meet them where they are in life. But to do that, you’ve got to know what’s happening in their lives and hearts! Build a safe environment so they can feel comfortable sharing their stories and questions.
How do you build that trust and protect your kids? Watch this video and read below to get some tips!
Earn Your Small Group’s Trust
When you have the trust of the kids in your small group, they’re more comfortable sharing their struggles, questions, and celebrations, and will be better able to build an authentic relationship with you.
- Acceptance: Let kids know you know their name, you remember what they’ve shared with you before, and that you’re ready to listen to what they have going on right now. When kids have a hard day or struggle with challenging behavior, forgive them and look for ways to encourage them for what they’re doing well.
- Honesty: Share your story and prayer requests. Keep it simple and appropriate, but honest. When kids see your transparency, it helps them to follow suit. If you don’t know the answer to something, let your kids know and pray about it or check it out in the Bible together.
Protect Your Small Group
Kids, like grown-ups, have problems, too, and they need your protection to be able to know your group is safe enough to reach out and get help.
- Build a climate of care. Teach respect and discretion in your small group. Lay the ground rules that anyone can share anything, and the group will listen, pray, and encourage. Gossiping, interrupting, or belittling others when they share is not acceptable.
- Report the “three hurts.” When a kid’s problem goes beyond a difficult situation and is resulting in actual harm to the child or others, immediately contact a staff member. Here are the “three hurts” to report:
- Being Hurt: The child is being hurt, neglected, or abused by others.
- Hurting Others: The child is chronically bullying, abusing, or belittling others.
- Hurting Themselves: The child is engaged in self-destructive thought patterns or dialogue, is engaging in harmful, risky behavior, or is physically harming their own body.
Talk through these discussion questions with your fellow leaders and LifeKids team.
- How do you build trust in your small group?
- What strategies do you think may help a small group listen respectfully when others share?
- Name a few staff members you would be comfortable reporting the “three hurts” to.
- What are a few personal stories that would be appropriate for you to share with your small group to build transparency?
A special thank you to Orange and the reThink Group for their ideas and research on their “lead small” philosophy referenced in this guide.