5 ways to build up your kids min team


Kids Ministry is an exciting and exhausting place to serve. Those who do it well will absolutely love it and give their all to it – but that doesn’t mean they are immune to feelings of doubt or fatigue.

Here are 5 very simple yet super effective ways you can make your Kids Min Team better – building them up in their sense of purpose and energy to continue to invest in our kids and community.

1. Thank them

Give them a high five at sign in. Tell them you appreciate their commitment to your children. Help them understand the impact their serving has on you and your family. Remind them of the important part they play in your church community. Drop them a note, give them a FaceBook shout out, or speak it out loud.

 

2. Know their names

Make the effort to learn and remember their names. Get to know them. Find out what year they’re doing at school, what they’re studying at Uni or where they work. Try and discover what they do for fun, what their favourite chocolate is, what music they listen to or what sport they follow. Your effort will communicate such high value to them.

 

3. Bring them coffee

Because Sunday mornings are hard y’all!! Surprise them with coffee or breakfast donuts and fruit. Buy the night team a pizza for supper or bring slurpees on a hot day.

 

4. Give them feedback

When your kids remember something they learned at Kids Min or when they tell a story about something their leader did – pass it on. Help them understand how their influence reaches beyond the scheduled ministry times. Encourage them to know the impact they are having in your kids’ lives.

 

5. Serve with them

Join the team – Kids Min teams ALWAYS need more members – and multiply their ministry effectiveness by adding your own gifts and skills. If you can’t be part of the scheduled ministry times, find ways to serve from home or during the week.

PICK ONE (or more) – and do it NOW!

talking to your KIDS about PORN before you’ve talked about SEX

11 years old. 

That’s the average age of a person’s first exposure to pornography. (In fact, some researchers are suggesting that age to be as young as 9.) 

For many it’s accidental – a misspelled URL, innocently inappropriate search term or a click on a banner ad. For some, it’s a friend at school or someone on the train. Because of the ease of accessibility it is almost impossible to predict or even prevent a child having an initial encounter with pornography. And so conversations to prepare them are important to have …early and repeatedly. 

Pornography is widely considered to be the number one sexual educator of our young people because children are engaging with porn before attending official “Sex Ed” classes and even before their personal curiosity has been aroused. Before their first kiss or their first crush they are being exposed to graphic sexual images and a type of sexuality that is so distorted as to bear little resemblance to healthy sexual intimacy (read 5 lies porn tells). 

So, what should we tell our kids?

At its most simply defined, pornography is videos or pictures of things that are intended to be private. The same understanding your children have of sexuality, reproduction and intimacy is the language you would use to help them know what the images or movies would be likely to depict. We teach our children about nudity, appropriate touching, understanding privacy and honouring ourselves and one another – these are the same principles we might use to speak of the inappropriate nature of pornography. 

TIPS :- 

Attempt to speak without embarrassment or awkwardness. 
Remember : language is power. Read blogs, books or articles by parenting, cyber safety or family experts to help develop your vocabulary and increase your confidence. 

Ask lots of questions to check their understanding and to ensure they’re confident with what they’ve heard. Curiosity only exists in a void. 

Express and demonstrate an openness to responding to further questions as your child might have them. (Which they will! Particularly as they grow in their own awareness and understanding they’ll want or need to know more as it relates to their growing knowledge and experience. Establishing yourself as someone who knows about this topic will increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you with further queries.)

Remember it’s not “the” talk but a continuing conversation. Don’t try and download everything you know or want them to know in one dump.

Fight for your kids. Let the strength of your desire to see your kids protected from the insidious and addictive influence of pornography and its consequences fuel you to push past any fear or embarrassment to do and say what is required to set your child up to win.  

it’s easy to make friends with kids


My life – and heart – are full of many special friendships with families and little people – and my connection with each of them is unique.

  • C gives me really ‘squeezey’ hugs and at some point squeezes me even tighter – mostly just his face and his bottom tense without his arms getting any tighter, but I still need to respond like he’s squeezing my neck hard.
  • considers me her private Disney-Jukebox. At any moment she might name a Disney princess or character and I have to sing ‘their’ song.
  • will come sit near me on the couch and stick her legs in the air – that’s so I can use her legs as pedals on an imaginary bike and pump her legs around – forward, backward, slow motion or super fast – and take us on imaginary adventures.
  • As E comes in for a hug she says ‘not too tight, not too tight’ – that’s code for ‘squeeze me like you’re trying to pop me!’
  • N doesn’t smile, hug or really even talk – but he fist pumps, with a little bit of a hand explosion and accompanying sound effect at the end. Just leave it at that and move on.
  • B is getting taller but is definitely already stronger than me – her cuddles are fierce and it’s best I take a deep breath when I see her coming before she squeezes it out of me.
  • have learnt from their father the ‘funny’ art of asking for a high-five but pulling out at the last second and leaving me hanging. Note to self – do not be trapped, do not be trapped!
  • B doesn’t like to be talked to directly too soon – I can talk to people around her and she will watch until she gets comfortable enough to smile – then and only then, should I try to make direct contact with her – anything before then will be met with much resistance.
  • A jumps into my arms, spreads her hands out wide and then gives me a ‘look’ – the look is to prompt me to start saying ‘no, don’t squeeze me, you’ll pop me!’ at which point she squeezes me until I use my finger to make a popping sound with my mouth. She will squeeze indefinitely, it’s best I ‘pop’ early.
  • E asks for a ‘really, really, really, REALLY, big kiss’ – that means that with my lips squished to his cheek I have to swing him around and hang him upside down and shake him until there’s a final ‘mwah!’ at the end.
  • J thinks it’s funny to sneak up behind me and yell to scare me (it’s not), so even when I see her coming it’s best to act surprised when she gets there. If I’m in a conversation, rather than interrupt she will just hug me from behind – best be ready for that one too! (Even if I’m praying for someone! 🙂 )
  • L will give me a hug so tight it ‘pops my head off’ – from time to time he decides to keep my head or swap it with someone else’s. It’s up to me to remember where my head is on any given day.
  • holds her breath while I come towards her for a kiss – if I stop just before I get there she’ll grunt and lean the rest of the way rather than handle the suspense.
  • considers me her personal play-equipment – she will launch from anywhere and attach herself to me. If I’m sitting down and she is nearby I should expect high impact contact at some point.

Reflecting on these (& many other) special interactions I’m mindful of two things. 

1. Children respond so readily to any effort we make to know and connect with them personally. 

So maybe we should do that more often. 

2. Adults probably aren’t that different. 

So maybe we could make that effort more often too. 

talking with your kids about sex

Where did you learn about the birds and the bees? Do you remember your parents giving you “the talk”? Did most of your learning come from friends, the graffiti on toilet cubicle walls, movies and TV, or maybe your best friend’s super-cool older siblings?

One of the most significant areas of discipleship and leadership we offer our children is in the area of sexuality and relationship – and yet, they can be some of the most awkward or feared conversations of all.

Here are some thoughts to consider – part of a broader conversation that I host with parents – to help empower you for this potentially uncomfortable yet intensely important aspect of your parenting role.

1. do the personal work 

Each of us has a unique perspective on the topics of sexuality and relationship that is heavily influenced by our own life experience. Our ability to lead children in healthy and helpful ways is impacted by the degree to which we have reviewed and processed our own upbringing and history.

If you were sexually abused or mistreated you may pass on fears and stigmas that are unhelpful. If you have had negative experiences or made significant mistakes in your own past, this will impact how you approach these topics with your child. If you have had a sheltered or extremely conservative upbringing you may pass on uninformed opinions or ideologies. If you had multiple relationships or sexual partners, if you were a pregnant teenager (or made a teenager pregnant), if you had an abortion, if you had early exposure to pornography, if you’ve struggled with sexual addiction … all this and more SHAPES your perspectives, understanding and feelings about sexuality and relationship.

In humility, parents must to do the work of review. We are doomed to either repeat the actions of our own parents or react to them (and do exactly the opposite) – for better or worse – unless we stop and review what that looked like and make sober decisions about its validity or usefulness. Our own experiences can be redeemed when we allow them to inform and educate others to make better choices.

2. know where you’re headed 

What do you hope for for your kids? What do you understand of the goal or intent of their sexuality? What type of relationships do you hope they’ll experience? How do you want them to perceive their own body and manage it? What empowerment or wisdom do you want them to be armed with? What situations do you want them to navigate intelligently and safely? How do you wish them to honour and respect others?

Knowing where you’re headed makes the pathway there more clear and more intentional.

The more ‘simple’ outcomes of saving themselves for marriage or protecting themselves from abuse or regret are a starting point, but there has to be more to your focus than that. Beyond the messages of “don’t” and “no” we have to endow our children with a sense of the beauty and joy that sexuality and relationship are designed to bring us and others in our world. Part of our created design includes this aspect of our beings and, as such, it is more than just a set of rules and guidelines that will help our children navigate the murky waters of culture and desires. It is a well shaped understanding of who they are, what God has in store for them and how they might ensure they are experiencing the fullness of His intent.

3. talk, don’t have ‘the talk’ 

It may be stating the obvious, but you’re not going to get this done in one conversation. It doesn’t matter how good that conversation is, how long it goes for or how many incentives are offered with it. One chat over milkshakes is not going to cover everything, it’s not going to accommodate for changing needs and cognition with age, it’s not going to give opportunity for all questions to be asked or all teachable moments to be explored. This is an ongoing conversation. Sorry for those of you who thought you were done! 😉

Make the most of opportunities that present to continue to shade in the big picture understanding you desire your kids to have. Ensure that each time you do talk about these kinds of topics it is left open-ended – ‘we can talk about this some more whenever you want’ or ‘if you think of other things later, be sure to come and ask me’. Engage with TV, media, overheard conversations, events in your family, song lyrics and the like to leverage opportunities to know where your child is and to keep the dialogue happening.

For some tips about talking to your kids about porn – check out this article  For further development of your awareness and language check out this site Fight the New Drug.

4. help your child translate culture 

We live in a highly sexualised world. It’s not sensationalising to make that observation, it’s just how it is. In fact, it is so sexualised we can often be immune to the various ways overt or distorted sexuality permeates our culture.

Rising proliferation and exposure to pornography has changed the water line and we are now soaking in a highly ‘pornified’ environment that requires our intentional identification and rejection. In sociological circles, pornography is considered to be the number one sexual educator of our children. Young people are being exposed to pornography often before they’ve had their first crush or their first kiss. Pornography has continued to become more and more violent and aggressive and less and less (if it ever were at all) reflective of intimate, romantic, private expressions of love.

This article draws attention to the pornography inspired images that are common-place in marketing and advertising. A walk through a shopping centre or a flick through a mainstream magazine will see multiple examples of these images. This website Collective Shout promotes advocacy around issues of objectification – it’s useful for raising your awareness as well as empowering you to be part of the response.

We need to help our children reflect on the things they see around them and to decipher the messages they are being sent and whether or not they are to be accepted or rejected. At age appropriate levels it may be as simple as wondering aloud with your child as to why a lady might look so unhappy in a picture – do you think she is having fun, do you think she is liking what is happening to her? To observing in more mature ways the submission-dominance interplay, the perception of a model as an object more than a person, the idiocy of a promotional picture that has no point of reference to the product or service it is purporting to promote.

***

This is a teaspoon of thought from an ocean of ideas, understandings and considerations that we need to continue to drink from – but it’s a start.

ASK THE QUESTIONS … what do you struggle to help your children understand? What approaches have you tried that you’ve found successful? What resources have you found useful?

5 things every kid needs || nosey parents

#5 nosey parents

Every parent will know that the way kids and teens relate to their parents ebbs and flows throughout their life. 

There may be times when children are clingy and needy; they don’t like to be away from their parents. At other times kids seem so independent a parent can almost feel redundant. There’s the “please don’t make me kiss you” or the “drop me off around the corner” phase. There are times when you are the source of all knowledge, power and entertainment and the times it seems you can know, say or do nothing of value. 

When it comes to raising children in faith, regardless of what your child may think they need or want from you – every kid needs nosey parents – at every stage. They need parents who are interested in their spiritual condition and concerned for their spiritual development. 

To this end, parents can 

  • Develop a faith-culture at home 

Deuteronomy 6 encourages the incorporation of learning and sharing of faith into the normal practices of home life – eating together, bedtime routines, and the regular comings and goings of life. Just as you would expect your kids to engage in routines such as brushing their teeth, expectations around faith practices communicates high value. 

  • Know the questions your child is asking 

And if they’re not asking any – ask some of your own. Stories shared about interactions had with friends, news and current events, or movies and TV shows, are all opportunities to know how your child sees the world and where God’s perspective shapes that view. Are they caused to question God? Do they understand His heart towards people or circumstances? What do they know of His power and activity in the world? 

  • Recruit others to shepherd and invest in your kids 

Know the names of your child’s ministry leaders – know even more than that! Know the leaders your kids love and why. Help the leaders know your child and your family better. Encourage those who have an influence in your child’s lives and champion them as your most powerful allies. 

Ministry leaders and other parents can also be a rich resource for you as you navigate difficult topics or responses to behaviours and attitudes. 

  • Know what they’re learning in faith groups and activities

If you get the “nothing” or “I can’t remember” answers when you ask your kids what they learnt at youth or kids ministry go directly to the source. Ask the ministry leaders what discussions and activities were part of that week’s session. You can still demonstrate trust in your leaders while also having a high expectation of communication of topics, intentions and responses. 

** A note for ministries and leaders …

You can train your parents to be nosey. Firstly, by your responses to their inquiries. Any sense of reluctance to share or a lack of knowledge will communicate to the parents that their inquiries aren’t welcome or they are asking for something that you can’t give (which is concerning!). When you welcome and engage with parental inquiries you grow their confidence to ask and your genuine intent to partner with them. And secondly, by answering the questions they should be asking – even if they’re not. Offering information to parents about what you’re observing of their children in your ministry or in their faith development, builds their confidence. Sending emails or “take-home” sheets that empower parents to connect with their child on the topic or story of the week is a great resource. 

Parents – what ways have you been “nosey” in your child’s faith development? What have you found most or least successful?

Leaders – how have you encouraged “nosey parents”? What successes (or failures) have you had in this endeavour?

5 things every kid needs || think orange 

#1 a really big God

#2 someone else

#3 another voice

#4 uncommon sense

#5 nosey parents 

how to fix your church 


When your children or youth are reluctant to go to church things can get hard. (Read more – against their will

If you’ve elevated and communicated the value of church attendance, negotiated and threatened your lips off and offered bribes of every incentive you can possibly imagine but are still struggling to get buy-in from your kids – there’s only one thing left to do. 

You need to fix your church

You know the old adage about not just identifying the problem but being part of the solution? Yeah, that. It’s time to roll your sleeves up and get involved in fixing your church. 

It may seem like a big challenge (depending on what your church dynamic is like) but it may take less than you think. Here are some low output-high impact first steps. 

  • Show up yourself

Passionate, genuine, supportive and committed people who show up regularly and consistently make every/any church better. Whether your attendance almost doubles the size of the congregation or fills one of 60 rows, every person who shows up contributes something vital to the dynamic of a gathering. 

It may seem a little arrogant to assert that your very presence could improve your church – but flip it over and consider what would happen if everyone thought their attendance didn’t matter and didn’t show up!

And as a side note – not surprisingly, your kids won’t be passionate about attending a place that you are not demonstrating a passion for. If your attendance is more about a week-by-week decision based on feelings and schedules rather than an anticipated fixture in your weekly rhythm you undermine the integrity of your desire to see your kids engage. 

  • Serve. 

There isn’t a church in the world with the budget to professionalise all aspects of church life. And even if finances allowed it, it would not reflect the church as Jesus declared it or as Paul and others advocated in the New Testament. 

Pretty much every service your church provides is possible because of the contributions of “someone” like you. “Someone” with skills, time, talents, heart and availability to serve one another – and the desire to see needs met, people connected, God encountered and disciples developed in a variety of ways for a diversity of people. 

The only way your family benefits from corporate worship, generational ministry, events, and shared faith experiences is because “someone” serves. “Someone” gives their Friday night or their Sunday morning over to teaching and leading – in music and word. The building is physically ready and you are welcomed because “someone” comes early to prepare for you. Small groups happen because “someone” opens their home. Morning tea is served because “someone” sets up the urn and packs away afterwards. 

Again, if everybody thought that they didn’t need to contribute you would show up to a very different kind of service, in a very different physical space and ultimately be paying for some very expensive psychiatry bills for your burnt out Senior Pastor! It’s not rocket science. You need to give something for the system to work. 

Side note – your child is much more likely to feel connected to a faith community when they experience a sense of ownership and purpose (true for you too). Serving is essential for fixing your church

  • Influence the influencers. 

All people thrive under the intentional investment, discipleship and encouragement of others. In any church environment there are going to be specific people who have influence over your child/ren. They may be positional influencers – those with the title of “leader” or “coordinator” in specific departments or ministries. They may be proximity influencers – those they’ll serve next to or find themselves spending time with. Or they’ll be influencers by personality – that cool young adult that everyone gravitates to or the super caring and connected person whose name your kids remember and repeat most often. 

If you want to spend your fixing energy wisely, direct it to the influencers. If, by your investment, care and counsel, you can help an influencer flourish you will be influencing your own kids through them. You will be making the church a better place for them (and others in kind) to connect to and thrive in. 

Invite your kids’ youth or kids ministry leaders for dinner or to birthday parties and basketball games. Host their groups in your home. Pray for them. Know them well so as to be able to assist them best. 

You can fix a lack of leadership or develop the competency and confidence of leaders by your intentional encouragement and support of those who God has appointed and who stand to impact your child’s sense of belonging in a faith community. 

***

Again, they’re simple steps but also essential. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who will speak of their disappointment in them or their families not finding a place of belonging, connection or support in a church community and they haven’t tried any of these fixing tips. They’re certainly no guarantee that your child will grow to love God and church – but their absence has a far greater likelihood of assuring the opposite. 

5 things every kid needs to grow in faith || someone else

#2 someone else 

My favourite part of a baptism is hearing the God-story.

I love when people stop to really reflect on how God has been at work in their life and they share the ways He has revealed Himself to them and drawn them to Himself. It points to a very creative and loving God. Each person tells us a different story of a unique encounter or series of encounters they had that made clear God’s call on their life and led them to respond. God is so good.

On one such occasion I witnessed, a 14 year old girl was sharing her story. She had been raised by Christian parents and attended church all her life but, when she was 13, she had attended a state wide youth camp with our church youth group. There were several hundred youth there from all parts of Melbourne and beyond; from various denominations and church expressions. She talked about her experience of that weekend and the impact it had on her developing personal faith, “I didn’t realise there were so many other people who did this Christian thing, I thought it was just our church.”

It seems almost comical to think that she might not have known, but her church experience had been limited to just our church and we were the only Christians she knew. It was significant for her to discover there were more. Because, as much as youth culture talks about the drive to stand out and be different, there is a deep yearning in our young people to find belonging and acceptance in likeness. Whether it is in shared fashion style, music tastes, sporting interests or leisure pursuits; young people find connection and comfort with others who affirm their style, taste, interests and pursuits.

Kids who are developing their own faith need SOMEONE ELSE (or multiple someones) who hold to the same core beliefs they do. They crave the affirmation that the faith they hold and the values they’re ascribing to are held by people other than themselves (and other than their own family). Christianity is, by Jesus’ own description, counter-cultural and as our society becomes increasingly pluralistic it is ever more likely that they will have friends and family and people in their basketball teams and neighbours in their streets that would not hold to the same beliefs.

It is one thing for their parents and grandparents to believe. It is significant for them to have leaders and other grown ups who believe similarly (more on that next blog). But it is also important that they have peers who share their beliefs. It reminds them that God is bigger than just their own family’s experience of Him (and #1 of the 5 things every kid needs to grow in faith is a really big God) as it continues to inform their understanding of who God is and how He operates.

We are all no doubt familiar with that powerful feeling of finding others with whom we find that “Oh, you too?!” connection. There is something profoundly validating about finding a like-mind, heart or soul. Our children need that too. It is significant to their faith development. Regardless of how independent and unique they might want to be they also crave the sense of being understood and affirmed for who they are and the choices they make.

5 things every child needs – Think Orange.

#1 a really big God 

#4 uncommon sense 

5 things every kid needs to grow in faith || a really big God

 #1 A REALLY BIG GOD 

I love giraffes. They’re so graceful and elegant. And tall. They’re really tall.

Not only are they great to look at, they’re also incredibly intricate in their creation.

In order to keep blood pumping through their long legs and neck they have a heart that is TWO FEET long!! They also have valves in their neck that stop blood from exploding their brains when they lower their head to drink.

My favourite of their amazing features is a sponge like collection of veins (the rete mirabile) that is at the base of their brain. It expands to fill with blood while their head is lowered so that when it is raised (potentially a height shift of over 12 feet) they don’t pass out. The blood slowly releases to keep the brain oxygenated while the heart works to stabilise the blood flow. How cool is that?

[hear more about giraffes in the podcast of my sermon from Sunday Feb 14]

Knowing all this, every time I see a giraffe I remember again how clever God is! How His creation is so intricate and complicated and ingenious. It’s amazing. Ahh-maze-ingggg!!

But then I think how the giraffe is just one of hundreds of animals God made. And animals are only one aspect of God’s created world. There’s the birds and the plants, the oceans and the mountains, the planets and the solar systems, and then …then …there are humans!! Our bodies are so complex and so functional and there are so many different types of us! Wow! Like really, wow!

He is a big, powerful, creative, loving and active God.

When it comes to supporting kids growing in their faith one thing they need is a REALLY BIG GOD. They need to know that everything about Him is bigger and better than we could even imagine. He made the giraffe, and the tiny ant, and the infinite galaxies, and you. His story is long and big and we have just joined it for a small part. He has been making and loving people for thousands of years. Guiding them. Helping them. He has been faithful to people who have not been faithful to Him. He has used children and kings; people who made really dumb decisions and mistakes, as well as people who were humble and seeking Him. For thousands of years He has had people talk about Him and wonder if He’s real or not. He’s had people wonder if He really made the earth or if His promises are actually true. And He has kept loving and pursuing us and using us to write His love note to the world.

He is a really big God!

Sometimes, in our attempts to explain God to our kids we inadvertently shrink Him (only in our minds – He can’t actually be shrunk). We try to describe and define Him and we are limited by our own understanding and our ability to ariculate the revelation of God to us.

Our kids need to hear about a God who is big. Big enough to know and be everywhere. Big enough to always be in control. Big enough to know every star in the universe AND their names and thoughts and fears. Big enough to have their future in His hands and to not be scared by their questions or doubts. They need a God who can be trusted at all times.

What might it look like for us to consciously consider the language we use? To be intentional in the ways we respond to our kids’ wonderings. To not limit them in their questions or shut down their doubts. God is big. He is big enough to handle whatever you are thinking, feeling or fearing.
5 things every kid needs – Think Orange

#1 a really big God

#2 someone else

#3 another voice

#4 uncommon sense 

#5 nosey parents 

Guest Blog – 2 weeks screen free!

I invited Sharyn White (inset with husband Scott) to share some reflections on her family’s fortnight of no screens. Read on for her insights into the challenges and surprises of the process. Through this project her kids raised over $1600 for our church’s building fund by collecting sponsorships from family and friends.

From the first day I sat my son down in front of the television with the purpose to entertain him to now, 11 years later when I let him play on the computer for a couple of hours straight, I have wondered if I’m being a good parent by allowing him to do this, or a bad parent.  There is something about screens as a form of entertainment that leaves me uneasy.

So when my children decided to attempt two weeks of no screens to raise money for a project they are passionate about, I was excited and slightly terrified.

We have three children:  Harrison(11), Riley (10) and Alexandra (7).  Depending on homework or sporting commitments, they can spend up to two hours in front of a screen on a weekday.  On a Saturday and Sunday, that number could go as high as five hours if you include a game of football or an afternoon with a friend.  I’d like to think five hours is the exception, but in the footy season it’s probably not (and then there’s cricket in the summer!).

I am really aware that for some reading this these numbers constitute child abuse, and for others they might be small in comparison.  I desperately want to justify them to make myself feel better, but will restrain. They are what they are.

My biggest fear in attempting the challenge was what we were going to do with all those free hours.  How was I going to keep my kids entertained?  And by entertained, I guess I mean out of my hair and under control.

Surprisingly, entertainment was never an issue.  Screens were quickly replaced by a range of other activities, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed.  And other than some board games and a couple of outings on the weekends, the kids initiated their own play.  They never once asked to get in front of a screen. 

The kids didn’t struggle to find new ways to spend their time, but they did struggle.

The first week was tough.  The kids weren’t bored, instead they were very tired.  Every afternoon involved fights, tears and tantrums.  I could see that at the end of a school day, they just wanted to sit and switch off in front of a screen.  These meltdowns were so absurd, and the effect of screens so glaringly obvious that in these moments if I didn’t laugh I would cry.  It was really hard to watch my kids adjust.  It was so tempting to put them in front of a screen knowing that it was all that was needed to bring peace and rest to the house.  But it also made me more determined to see this challenge to its end.

I’ve always known that screens provide a lot of entertainment for very little effort.  It’s called instant gratification.  Screen-time can be both mindless, and stimulating.  But what shocked me most during the challenge was how conditioned my kids are for that type of activity; so conditioned that it affected their physical and mental capacity when it was removed.  Remaining pleasant, being creative and staying engaged took more effort than they were used to.

Fortunately it only took one week for that conditioning to change.  The second week was a completely different story.  Their capacity to positively engage in their surroundings increased, and the rewards were great.  They spent longer on homework, they settled into other activities for longer periods of time, and I think the familiarity with certain board games allowed them to find this form of entertainment relaxing.

I discovered through the challenge that if screens equal instant plus gratification, then removing or restricting a child’s screen-time doesn’t remove or restrict the gratification part of that equation, but the instant part.  My kids loved their screen-free challenge.  Harrison even spoke of extending his time because he could identify the benefits.  The entertainment and the enjoyment were there.  But they had to adjust to the effort it took and the character traits required to get these things in their different forms.

Harrison would identify the benefits of the screen-free challenge as better quality school work, learning new board games, and spending more time with mum and dad.  As their mother, I too enjoyed all those benefits.  But I also loved to see them grow in perseverance, their consideration of others, creativity, patience and the list goes on.

I would recommend taking up the screen-free challenge to any family.  Give it a go, and you might discover some interesting things.  But if that’s not your cup of tea, then can I encourage you to remove some of the ‘instant’ that invades your children’s lives; whether it be in the form of play, extra-curricular activities, dinner magically appearing on the table or a fresh pile of ironed washing. 

My kids are capable of more than I give them credit for.  And it is a joy to see them thrive on discovering that for themselves also.