Discipline means teaching children to be responsible for their own behavior by providing guidance and necessary examples. Discipline tells a child that you care enough about a child and want him to behave in a manner that you know to be right. Be sure your youngsters know what kind of behavior is acceptable during your VBS program, and set limits and boundaries for them while they are with you. It’s unfair to punish them for breaking rules they didn’t know existed. Here are five guidelines for maintaining good discipline during VBS:
1. Establish the necessary standards and limits at your very first day of VBS, and make sure everyone knows what they are. Keep the list short!
2. Consistently enforce the standards. If they’re not worth enforcing always, for everyone, they’re probably not worth having.
3. Be reasonable in your expectations. “No talking” is not reasonable. “No talking during prayer time or when someone else is speaking” is a reasonable rule and should be enforced. Simply stop talking until the offender realizes he’s the cause of the problem. Your silence should be sufficient. The second time it might be necessary to say, “Ricky, you’re interrupting our story. Please stop talking so I can continue.” If it happens a third time you might say, “Ricky, the next time I have to stop this story because you’re talking, you’ll have to leave the group.” Then be sure he’s removed (quietly) if it does happen again.
4. State your expectations each day and again before transitioning to a new activity. Let children who attend VBS regularly repeat the expectations for visitors to hear and as a reminder to everyone else. Be sure to restate the expectations each day and before each activity. Don’t expect children to automatically remember to raise their hands before talking if you haven’t reminded them.
5. Be logical about punishment that must be administered. Don’t make a federal case out of a minor infraction, or you’ll have to send a major offender to jail! If a child smears glue in another child’s hair during craft time, separate the offender from the glue for that day, or have him work alone at a table. Children do bizarre things at times on impulse — usually to get attention!