On Monday I shared my 5 Tips for Behavior Management at Church, which discusses the importance of sharing behavior expectations with kids. To help the kids in my ministry understand my expectations for them, I created 5 Rules called the “5 I Can’s”, that eventually became known by the kids as SLLRP (pronounced “slurp”). They were adaptable for any situation too, so I could remind kids to “SLLRP it up” at VBS, a preschool playdate, or on a Sunday morning, and they’d know exactly what I was talking about.
These “I Can” Statements help kids remember how we should behave at church so we can get the best out of our time each Sunday morning and learn all about what God wants to teach us. They allow kids to take ownership of their time at church each week and to empower them to CHOOSE to do the right thing. Rather than describe all that the kids CAN’T do, these statements describe everything the kids CAN do, and they clearly set out the behavior expectations we have at church. The acronym to help us remember our 5 I Cans is SLLRP (pronounced “slurp”), and you can check them out below.
I Can Stay Safe – This statement covers everything from “keep your hands to yourself” to “don’t climb on that table” and allows kids to take responsibility for their choices and actions. We discuss unsafe behaviors for our area and agree together to stay safe at church.
I Can Listen – Listening is extremely important, and with our “I Can Listen” statement, kids know they are expected to listen to whoever is speaking, whether it is a leader up front or a friend in small group.
I Can Learn – We want kids to know that church is a place where they can learn more about Jesus, His story in the Bible, and how it applies to their lives today. This “I Can” Statement goes closely with listening and reminds kids that they will see, hear, experience, and sometimes even smell new things. Knowing this expectation of learning from the beginning helps kids prepare their hearts and minds for what God has to teach them each week.
I Can Respect – We all know kids need reminders about what respect looks like. Respect is not talking when the teacher is talking. Respect is not talking to your friend during the lesson because then they can’t hear. Respect is not making fun of someone. With our “I Can Respect” statement, kids are given a friendly reminder in a positive way.
I Can Participate – Participation looks different based on the different activities we are doing, but it basically means going with the flow and doing whatever we are doing at the time. If we are worshiping, participation looks like standing and singing praises to God. If we are playing a game, participation looks like joining in and supporting your team. If we are having a lesson, participation looks like sitting quietly and listening to what the teacher has to say. The most important aspect of this “I Can” Statement is having FUN! When kids participate, they have more opportunities to have fun. We want kids to know that a) they will have fun at church and b) it is OK to have fun at church. Yes, it is a place of learning, but it is also a place of joy and excitement!
In addition to talking about SLLRP each week, we also implemented a group reward system where kids could earn pompoms for their grade for doing our 5 I Cans. Each grade had their own can to fill up with these pompoms, and the winning grade with the most pompoms at the end of the semester won a special party/outing of their choosing! Sometimes it was an ice cream sundae party, a trip to a local trampoline park, donuts on Sunday morning, or (almost) anything else their little hearts can dream of (I did have to turn down the idea of Disney World a few times – just wasn’t in the budget). This pompoms system gave kids a goal to work toward and a sense of camaraderie with the other children in their grade. And when kids are the ones keeping each other accountable to our expectations, that makes life easier for me and my volunteers.