What's in this post...
Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason as to why kids are mean. As anyone who has been in this situation knows, it’s really hurtful when kids at church are mean. Here are some ways to help navigate this dilemma.
It is the absolute worst bringing our kids to church… and hearing there are mean kids there.
I mean, nothing makes my blood boil more.
And my blood tends to boil, to be honest. I want to bring my kids to church to learn about the Lord, to be at peace, and to be built up.
I don’t want them having to deal with bullies.
But alas, there are mean kids anywhere there are kids. Let’s talk about some ways to help your little ones cope.
Preemptively Coach Younger Kids
Until you really know people and situations, it’s totally fine for kids to stay near their parents. Don’t feel the pressure to “send your kids to the back” just because there’s a children’s program.
You may want to be sure that your kids feel totally safe and accustomed to their surroundings before you send them to classes or camps. Telling a child to be brave and sending them off alone can backfire.
Kids may have the idea that when they get to church, everyone is supposed to be perfectly nice.
This just isn’t the case when it comes to kids because sometimes kids are just mean.
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Talk matter-of-factly with you kids about meanness.
- Just because you’re in church, doesn’t mean that everyone acts like a perfect Christian. Sometimes, kids can be mean. Sometimes, it’s the church kids that can be the meanest.
- Everybody needs Jesus. Nobody is perfect. It’s possible for anybody (even church kids) to be mean.
- Find friends that are kind. Sit next to, hand out with, and associate with those kids. It doesn’t matter what they look like or how “cool” they are. Kindness is the real measure of a person.
- Show kindness first. Be sure to stand up for yourself and tell an adult if someone is being mean to you.
Help Them Establish Their Individual Faith
Two of the main reasons why we want our kids to go to church are challenged when other kids are mean.
- We want our kids to go to church to draw closer to God.
- We want our kids to go to church to socialize with faith-filled friends.
First of all, we cannot stop other kids from being mean.
Secondly, we can’t parent the other kids or even be in every single situation our kids get into (especially as our kids grow).
What we can do is help them establish their individual faith. Teach them about maintaining their own identity no matter what is going on around them.
Be sure that they know their core family values and have the confidence to stand for them before putting them into situations where they will be tested.
And, honestly it’s good that sometimes these values are put to the test. It’s one way that kids mature in their walk with the Lord and in relationship with others.
Want to help develop your child’s strengths Use these cards to dive into the character qualities and how your child does – and can in the future = exhibit them in their own life.Learn More
Keep an Open Line of Communication
I’m not advocating that you run to your kids every single dramatic whim. What I am saying is that listen for the signs of bullying and be on your kid’s side.
This is especially important in a church setting because church is supposed to be the safest place on the planet.
It’s the worst when a child associates a bad church experience with feelings of abandonment (from their parent). This could even lead to a lack of faith in their future and a distasteful view of church in general.
Be fair… but be on your kid’s side.
- Listen closely if they mention kids being mean to them at church.
- Validate their feelings and ask for details.
- Either remove your child from the situation where this may occur again or give them some teachings on how to handle it next time.
- Be sure to tell them that you always want to hear what they are going through.
Don’t throw in the towel on the first occasion, but make sure your child has the opportunity to find a place that loves and accepts them. If that particular church group isn’t going to do that…. your kids need to know that there is one out there that will.
Teach the Biblical Values of Friendships and Attentiveness
What if we were able to equip our kids to combat “meanness” with the word of God? That is, after all what we do as adults. As adults we understand that people will try to mistreat us, but we have a great comforter who gives us peace and direction in times of need.
So, start early in training kids to “fight against evil with good.”
Biblical Values of Friendship
God’s word contains wonderful training on friendships and handling difficult situations. Here are a few scriptures to help narrow in on how to handle when kids are mean at church.
Proverbs 18:24. One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
In order to have friends, you should be friendly.
So… when someone is being mean to us we shouldn’t attempt to be close friends with them. We can show kindness, but not “hang out” with them.
Proverbs 27:17. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
When iron gets sharpened, it becomes more useful. Being “sharp” is a good thing. We want to make friends with people who help sharpen our behaviors, communications, and faith.
Proverbs 13:20. Walk with the wise and become wise for a companion of fools suffers harm.
The first step to dealing with kids who are acting mean is to move away from them.
Instead, stay around the the kids who are acting wisely. The Bible tells us that we should not be a companion to fools because it leads us to distraction. Yes, this is far easier said than done. And often the meanest kids are the ones everyone wants to hang out with.
But hanging out with a mean kid is like standing next to a flame and complaining we’re getting burned.
1 John 4:7. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Bible Values of Attentiveness
Proverbs 2:2. turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding.
We don’t need to focus on the things that others around us are doing and saying.
Our attention should first be on the reason why we’re in church. If our ears and heart are towards God, we won’t get so upset when others try to hurt us.
When people are mean to you, remind yourself why you’re here at church. You are here to seek God and his righteousness. Others may be there simply as a distraction to you. Don’t let anything get in the way of what God is teaching you. If you seek Him first, everything else will make sense later.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!