Children are the ones to initiate touch. Leaders aim to minimize touching children. Always ask permission before touching a child (e.g. hold hand up and ask, High five?).
Appropriate Touch 0-2 Years
Hugging, patting, sitting on lap, rocking, holding hands are all appropriate forms of touch for this age group.
When a child is upset, re-direct or distract the child with an activity, game or craft.
Appropriate Touch 3-4 Years
Open hugs, sitting on lap or beside leader, holding hands are all appropriate forms of touch for this age group. When a child is upset, re-direct or distract the child with an activity, game or craft.
Appropriate Touch School Age
- Touch should always be on the bony parts of the body (shoulders, hands, arms, though not the head).
- Touch should always be open not closed (i.e. a side on hug, not a face to face hug).
- Touch should always be brief not lingering (i.e. a quick pat not a long lingering rub, a quick handshake not a long lingering hand rub).
- No school age child is to sit on a leader’s lap (even if injured or upset). Tips to avoid this:
- Invite children to sit beside you (pat ground and indicate were you’d like them to sit).
- Leaders sit down after children are all seated.
- Leaders sit with their knees bent (children are less likely to sit on leader if the leader’s legs are bent and their knees are up).
- You should take care that your communication with a child or children is appropriate and above reproach. Be aware that those who wish to abuse children may use electronic communications to try to cultivate secretive or exclusive relationships.
- Leaders should not contact children directly by email, mail, social media, video calls, using chatrooms or by any other form of electronic communication. Leaders should not call or text a child on the child’s mobile phone directly.
- All Letters, cards and written invitations: address them to the child c/- the parent.
- All electronic communication must be with the child’s parent or guardian. On the rare occasions when a leader might need to speak to a child on the phone for ministry purposes, the leader is to call the child’s parent to explain why he or she is calling. Only then, with the parent’s permission, should the leader speak with the child. The leader should be conscious of keeping the conversation with the child short.
Photographing Or Filming Children
- Leaders are not to take photographs of children on their phones or personal cameras unless permission is given by Campus Minister or Team Leader and only then, for the purpose of the program (e.g. kids retelling a story). Photographs are to be removed from the phones in front of Campus Minister or Team Leader at the conclusion of the activity.
- Photographs are only to be taken by people appointed by the Kids Ministry Director or Campus Ministers.
- Before any filming of children or recording of children's voices takes place, where the film or recording is being used outside the stipulations stated on the enrolment form, parents/guardians are to be approached individually for permission.
- Assure parents that it is normal for children to cry when being separated from their parent/guardian.
- Ask the parent if they’d like you to pick up their child (Toddler) or hold their hand (3 years and up) and comfort them as the parent says goodbye.
- If parents want to stay and settle their child, explain they can only stay for five minutes. After that the parent must leave, either taking their child with them or allowing you to try and settle their child. No parent is allowed to stay for extended periods of time unless permission has been given by the Kids Ministry Director.
- If a child is distressed, try and settle the child (under-fives only) by sitting them on your lap with a puzzle or playdough in front. Comfort the child only once, then interact with the children around while subtly playing with the equipment in front of the child, handing the upset child equipment at various intervals. Or, hold the child while looking out a window and talk about what you can see. Don’t continually talk to the upset child.
- If the child does not begin to settle within 5 minutes call parent to come and collect the child. Encourage the parent to take the child and try again the following week.