I’ve been involved in Children’s ministry since long before I had kids myself. At first, those energetic little two-year-olds intimidated me. I didn’t feel like they could be reasoned with and assumed that they had no desire, at any point, to follow directions. But that seemed to be where there was the greatest need for volunteers, maybe because everyone else felt the same way, so that’s where I served.
It was challenging at times, and rewarding at times, and draining at times and life-giving at times. I met so many different little personalities and got to see them develop and grow as they moved into my class and then out. Here are the basic two-year-old personalities I’ve encountered over the years. Can you relate to any of these in your own church or possibly your home?
The Cryer: This is the toddler that clings to mommy like a spider monkey when it’s time to drop them off. …and then for 20 minutes after, at least. These little one’s need a constant view of the door just in case mommy passes by, or anyone that looks like mommy, or anyone that walks and talks and might offer an escape from the room. The best tactic for these little sugars is for one teacher to hold them, possibly the whole time (you definitely need more than one teacher in your classroom), and to talk to them in a soothing voice to calm them down. Distraction is the key! Try snacks, bubbles, a noisy toy or singing songs. These emotional sugars are our future artists.
The Wild One: This is the two-year-old that screams because they don’t want to go to class but really, they want to go to class, but they have to throw a fit to let mommy know they can’t be contained easily. As soon as they get into the classroom, they run straight to the toys and are happy as a lark. These kiddo’s usually have older sibling’s so seem to feel like they need to fight for their individuality. If you ask them to come sit down for circle time, they will refuse, but if you ask them to help you get ready for circle time, and give them a job to do, they are happy to comply! They respond well to choices, not directions (would you rather help me with this or this?). These are our future inventors.
The Shy One: The quiet little sugars have so much going on in their tiny minds, and they’re the most fun to get to know. They love hugs and snuggles (though they may be stiff about it at first) and their favorite place is in an accepting lap. These kiddos respond well to directions and can easily spend an entire Sunday service being unnoticed (especially if there’s a cryer or a wild one in the room too). Connect with these cuties individually and you’ll have a friend for life. These are our future teachers!
The Do-er: Oh, the do-ers! These kiddos love the lessons and look forward to every song and craft. They love the structured “class time”, usually because they know it will lead to snack time! Give your do-ers tasks to help you during the lesson like collecting supplies or handing out Bibles. If you don’t engage them in the lesson, they will often wander off to “do” something else! These are our future leaders.
Now, I’m the children’s director at my church, luminouschurch.org, in San Antonio, and I have the most fun teaching the two-year-old class. Taking the time to understand their personalities and their insecurities opened up my eyes to see who they had the potential to be as adults. It’s our privilege to help cultivate and shape these little people into their full potential. So if you haven’t already, volunteer in the two-year-old class and meet some really cool little friends!