KIds not repecting church or church property ( these are church kids)

Hey everyone! In or church mainly on Wednesday nights  we have an issue where the kids run around which is fine and we like that we have lots of kids and they have fun, but on Thursday the staff comes in and there is a giant mess in the children’s area because the kids did whatever they wanted and left. The reason this happens on Wednesdays and Not Sundays is because on Sundays we have a check in and out system and once your checked out your done in the children's area.  We do not have this on Wednesday nights because we have quite a few that just get dropped off and don't come on Sundays but we have our regulars as well.  A check in/out system would be hard for a Wednesday night because the kids have always knows they can just come in and run.   I don’t know how we are supposed to keep things from breaking and staying nice if we don’t find a way to control this.  I wish we could make a policy or rule but I know it wouldn’t quite work and that would be even more frustrating.  How do we handle this issue!? What do we say to parents!?  We want parents and kids to be welcome and have fun and be able to run around but I don’t think kids are taught to respect the church and the property and I know that will have to come from the parents.  What to do!? Does anyone else have problems like this!?

Thanks! :)

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We have problems like that as well. Mainly just messes left behind on Wednesday evenings. I just approach the childcare workers and ask them to please clean the area before they leave. Also maybe put a sign up letting them know where the cleaning supplies are and ask to please clean area before leaving. it works for us. As long as it is done in a nice loving way you should have no problem.

Help me understand - do kids get picked up from a regular Wed event (like an Awana?) by parents and then hang out and play for awhile or is this just that kids happen to be in the children's area on Wed nights? That would make a difference in how to respond.

Susan we have Wednesday night classes but after church is over the parents do not come back and pick up their children so the teachers will take the kids to their parents but then the kids are let to just run around and they end up going back down to the children's area.  Some teachers (the teachers of the boys class) do not take the kids to their parent's so then they run free. 

I have tried shutting all the lights off but kids go down their anyway, and even if the teachers clean up after class it's that the kids go back down there.
Susan Best said:

Help me understand - do kids get picked up from a regular Wed event (like an Awana?) by parents and then hang out and play for awhile or is this just that kids happen to be in the children's area on Wed nights? That would make a difference in how to respond.

I bet that is really frustrating! Sounds like your children's area is a place kids love to hang out, but I recognize the issue of safety and kids not being monitored.

I wonder if you could approach this by first making clear the check-out/pick up procedure. Perhaps modeling it to match Sunday would help most of your families. Having this be a very clear system with a parent or guardian picking the child up may help you then gently but firmly set expectations that once a child is picked up, the family needs to move out of the children's area.

I know you said this would be hard to accomplish because the tone has already been set so perhaps you will have to implement in the fall or at kick off. You will definitely need to get your volunteers on the same page if you do this. I have found that even in major sweeping changes, families tend to adjust to what you ask of them if they recognize you care about their kids and have a logical purpose for the change. Don't sell them short on being able to adjust. It is just as important how it is communicate (done in positive language such as "keeping your child safe", "preparing the new spaces for the next group" rather than "kids break our things" or "they are running wild". I'm guessing you've already thought of that.

You are right in that you cannot control what parents do as far as allowing their kids to run around church, but you can communicate to parents that because your team needs to clean up and prepare the rooms for the next use, you need the space cleared of kids. That is hard to argue.

If you do not have enough "capital" or influence with the families after trying some steps, I would enlist the support of your executive or senior pastor, whoever  is in charge of the adults on Wed and see what he/she thinks. Either you will have to change your expectations and remove any items that might easily be broken or ruined, or you will have that person's support and be able to enforce the boundaries hopefully!

Thank you Susan! :) What you replied with has helped! :)

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