Did I Sign Up For This? – Part 4

In the last part of this series, Amy Kendall, Saddleback Kids Disabilities Ministry Coordinator, will talk about classroom management when dealing with children who need a little extra help.

Having a child in your classroom who has a disability or behavioral issues can be tough to deal with. I am sure you are thinking at times, “I didn’t sign up to do this.”

It can be both a blessing and a curse to have children come in all shapes and sizes. Below is a behavior management plan we have in place in our Disability Ministry. It can be used in any classroom though and is helpful when having that child who needs a little extra help.

And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16 NIV

1.  Access the situation

  • Is this a typical behavior?
  • Is there a diagnosis?
  • Is there danger to another person or to that child?
  • What are the church’s policies for behaviors?

2.  Remove the child (versus work with the child)

  • Child is a danger to other children.
  • Child could potentially hurt themselves.
  • Child is over-stimulated and needs a quieter situation:
  • Loud noises or music
  • Bright lights
  • Too many people in one room
  • Certain sounds
  • Something in the room is upsetting the child.
  • Child is working the situation.

3.  Work with the child (versus remove the child)
  …be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Isaiah 7:4a

  • Look at the situation and find the trigger.
  • Remove the trigger if needed.
  • If over-stimulated, what does the child need to calm:
  • Fidget or manipulative
  • Favorite toy
  • Deep pressure or joint compression
  • Massager
  • Redirect the child.
  • What are the church’s policies?
  • How do parents want you to deal with behaviors?

4.  Ask others who may know the child more about him/her

  • Find out their likes/dislikes.
  • Allergies could be triggers sometimes.
  • What is the diagnosis?
  • Possibility of how family deals with behaviors.

5.  Who should deal with the behaviors when they arise?

  • Volunteers in classroom (if comfortable and trained)
  • Paid ministry staff
  • Point volunteer

I cannot tell you how often we forget to get the family involved in this process. Find out what they do at home or at school so it can be a cohesive process and that way everyone is doing the same thing.

When talking to the parents, remember to sandwich talk to them. Sandwich talk is when you tell them something good about their child and then your concerns, but end it with something good again. For example, “we love having Andrew here with us on the weekend. We had some questions about his difficulty keeping his hands to himself. We would love to partner with you in how to work with this as we really want him to love church as much as we love him.” This diffuses the situation a bit and reminds the parents how much we want their kids with us on the weekend.

Every situation with a child will be different. Remember to combat it with prayer and then work together as a team to make the right choices for each child.


  1. Thank you for addressing this topic. As a mother of a special needs child (actually, he’s an adult now) it is a comfort to know their needs can be met.
    I am also in the SBK ministry. We can always use information like this to assist us in any given situation.
    You are much appreciated!

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