June 4, 2022
"Hi there! What's your name?"
The girl didn't answer.
"How old are you?" I guessed she may have been 6-8 years old.
She didn't respond to that either.
Have you ever had a kid that didn't talk to you? At first I didn't know how to handle meeting a kid who didn't talk to me at first. All the things I had learned about meeting new kids was lost in the fact she wouldn't answer my questions. How do we connect with these kinds of kids?
I find quiet kids are some of the most perceptive. They probably observe more things than we ever realize. Because of this, just being your normal self is important.
Ask Yes or No Questions
It as simple as that. When you phrase questions in that kind of format, it lets the kid choose to answer in body language. If you want to learn their age, you may guess around how old you think they are, until you get it right. You can even manage to learn a little about what they enjoy, such as by saying, "Do you play an instrument?"
Spend Time With Them
Simply spending time with them helps gain their trust. And I find when they trust you, then they also feel more comfortable in your group as a whole, because they have someone to turn to if they need something. I sat with that girl throughout that weekend. Another team member also was a little further in her relationship with the girl, having been to the church before, so she spent time with her by doing a cake walk with her and sitting with her during service. And by the end of the weekend, that team member had a great relationship with her!
Put Yourself In Their Place
Remember how you might have felt if you were that kid in that situation. I realized that it's overwhelming to be surrounded with a group of strangers who are probably trying to talk with you, especially in a small kids church setting when you're the only new one. I also try to see how they might feel if I talk to them, and when to simply stop talking and just hang out. And it's especially helpful to pray for guidance in the moment!
Those quiet kids are special, and I've come to appreciate them.
How do you help quiet kids feel welcome?