One of my favorite things to do when I visit my son and his family is to watch him play with his two year old twin girls. They squeal with delight when he throws them up in the air and catches them. There is no fear, only trust.
We have the opportunity every week to instill in our little ones the lesson of trust. This is the most basic skill and the most useful lesson we will utilize throughout our lifetime. Learning to trust will be useful to us throughout our youth, teen years, and even adulthood. How incredible that we can start honing the skill of trust even in our preschool years.
Every Sunday I see it – moms and dads dropping off their little treasures only to hear wailing as if they were having dental work without anesthesia. Separation anxiety – the struggle is real! Leaders, this is a great opportunity for you to start teaching the lesson of trust. I want to encourage you to kneel down and look those sweet blessings in the eye and remind them that they can trust you, that their parents will return shortly, and they are being left in the hands of people who care about them and will take good care of them.
Encourage the parent to ask the child, “Do you trust me?” Then help them transition by having the parent give the child a hug, a kiss, a pat on the head and a promise to return shortly. Encourage your parents to be trustworthy. Make sure they understand that it is important that they return promptly to pick up their child. Anxiety begins to build as children see others being picked up. Remind your parents that we are partnering together to build trust, and we want to do everything we can to begin to teach this life lesson to our little ones.
If tears continue, remind your little ones that they can trust their parent to return soon and they can trust God because He cares for them just like he cares for the birds of the air and the flowers in the field.
Learning to trust is HUGE! It is the bedrock of our faith! We see in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” As you lovingly cradle a preschooler with fear in their eyes, you need to keep telling them over and over that they can trust God, they can trust their parents, and they can trust you.
We also want parents to be able to trust our children’s ministry. Children are able to pick up on any nervousness parents have. If parents do not feel comfortable with the children’s ministry, we need to be open to hear their concerns and have conversations with us to make any adjustments needed for children to have the best experience possible.
We must be very intentional about children’s ministry. Our children’s leaders should be serious about making Sunday morning ministry the best hour of a child’s week. Leaders must be intentional about comforting little ones who are missing their mommy and daddy. Parents need to know they can trust their child’s leader to call if their child is inconsolable. Class time should be full of fun activities and well scheduled. Parents need to be able to trust that in children’s ministry we take our responsibility seriously.
Every week in our elementary environment we tell our children that they can “Trust God No Matter What.” We can begin to lay that foundation in preschool in the way we handle the issue of separation anxiety.