Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
There are all kinds of debates out there today about whether or not using candy as an incentive in Children’s Ministry is appropriate or not. I understand the arguments against candy. It’s unhealthy. Kids don’t need all that sugar. What if the parents don’t like it? If you give them candy, you’re bribing them to behave when they should just behave because it’s the right thing to do. Like I said, I understand all the arguments. That said, I give out more candy than Willy Wonka in my classroom. We have a discipline and reward system where kids can earn up to three pieces of candy every single week. In addition to that, I ask questions each week and give candy to the kids for right answers. I hand out candy to the kids who volunteer to help in the large group portion of the lesson. We have parties with sweets and punch to celebrate our Lord.
So, that’s where I come down on the issue, now let me explain the reason why. Kids are all different, but the one thing I’ve found that they all seem to like – is candy. They might like different kinds and have different favorites, but they all seem to like candy. That makes it a powerful motivator and one you should take advantage of! As for the argument that it’s unhealthy, my experience is that there are very few kids that NEVER eat candy. The point is not that they should never eat sweets, but that they should understand stewardship. Even candy, in moderation, is not bad for you. Finally, many people resist handing out candy because they fear parents will object. To date, I have never had such an objection, but I do respect the fact that parents have been appointed by God to be the ultimate decision makers for their kids. To that end, even when we do pass out candy as prizes, our rule is that the kids have to wait until their parents pick them up to eat it. That gives parents the opportunity to regulate the sugar intake. In short, my advice when it comes to candy is – Never underestimate the power of a good bribe!