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How to correct a teenager at Student Ministry?

Teenagers are going to push the limits and break the rules from time to time. Because of this it is imperative that we as Youth Pastors , Youth Leaders and even Student Leaders know how to correct a teenager when they are acting inappropriately.

When students are acting up pre or post service, here is what to do in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 – LOOK THEM IN THE EYE

By looking a teenager in the eye you set yourself up as the Authority in the conversation. There is something about standing there looking straight into a persons eyes that sets the tone for the conversation. It also lets them know, I am talking to you, I am not afraid of you, and I have something so important to say that I am not going to look down or look away, I am going to look you right in the eyes … so you better listen up.

Step 2 – INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND ASK THEIR NAME

If you do not know the young person or your not sure if they know you. While you are looking them in the eyes, introduce yourself and ask them their name. This is a great opportunity to meet someone and make a personal connection. Where their is no relationship their can be no authority. So before you even correct them, look them in the eyes and introduce yourself to break the ice.

Step 3 – RESPECTFULLY EXPLAIN THE RULE

Before you correct them, make sure they clearly understand what your rules are and why you have this particular rule. It is very important to state this rule calmly and respectfully. A great rule of thumb when dealing with people is treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Step 4 – ASK THEM TO START OBEYING THE RULE

After explaining the rule, look them in the eye and ask them to stop what they were doing and start obeying the rule.

If they apologize or act appropriately after your interaction with them…

Step 5 – FIND COMMON GROUND AND START A CONVERSATION

Where there is not relationship there can be no authority, so use this altercation as a way to start up a relationship. Find something notable they are wearing like a “hat with a football team on it” or a “shirt with a musical group on it” then make a comment about what they are wearing to start a conversation. The next time they see you they will remember you treated them with respect and actually wanted to talk with them.

If after asking them to obey the rule, the student bows up at you, swears at you, or becomes argumentative with you …step 5 looks a little different.

Step 5 – HAND THEM OVER TO SECURITY TEAM AND LET THEM ADDRESS THE SITUATION FURTHER

If they start becoming argumentative, walk with them over to, or call on your radio to your Security Team (if you don’t have a Security Team… get one) and allow them to address the situation in more detail, but do it away from the crowd so as not to cause a scene or further disruption.

Thats what you always do to correct a teenager … now here are four things to NEVER do when correcting a student.

NEVER YELL

When you yell, by definition you are out of control. Stay in authority by staying in control. A police officer never yells at you when you are speeding … he calmly asks you for your license and registration. Why? Why doesn’t he yell? Because he is in control, he is the authority … he does’t need to yell for you to obey him. Never yell at a student.

NEVER USE SLANG WORDS

In the heat of the moment words like – shoot, dang, darn, dadgummit, can be taken for much harsher words. Refrain from using these words when correcting a student. If you do use these words, it opens the door for the student to go home and say “they cussed at me”. Now a situation where the student did something wrong has been turned on you and your church. Don’t give the wicked one a foothold in this situation. Never use slang words when correcting a teenager.

NEVER GRAB, PUSH OR SHOVE THEM IN ANYWAY

Can you spell Lawsuit? I can it is spelled “H-E – P -U -S – H – E – D – M – E”. Unless a fight breaks out and you have to pull students off of each other … never push, grab or shove a teenager in anyway.

NEVER TAKE THEM OFF ALONE

This is HUGE. Do not take a student off into a room, a corner, an area, where you are alone or there is not someone there who can see and hear what is happening. If you do, you have opened yourself and your church up to a “he said – she said’ situation and that is never good. Always correct with other people around.

Note – in my next blog I will talk about how to correct a teenager that is acting up during the actual youth service.