Tips and Tricks

The Master’s Touch

-Julie Cox

I once read an article about the importance of hugging. From documented evidence the author concluded that everyone needs 12 hugs a day to stay emotionally healthy. While I don’t claim to be an expert on emotional health I know from experience that people have a deep need for physical affection.

The Need

Jesus recognized the need for human contact. When a man with leprosy came to him for healing, Jesus reached out and touched him. Immediately the man was healed. He touched Peter’s mother-in-law on the hand and her fever left her. He touched the eyes of the blind and their sight was restored. He took a dead girl by the hand and raised her to life. People were healed by the touch of the Savior.

Jesus also took children up in His arms and blessed them. Although other adults tried to chase them away, Jesus did not. He loved them and insisted they be allowed to come to Him.

When you belong to Jesus you become the hands and arms of the Savior to those around you. Everywhere people are aching to know His unconditional love. The children in your class are looking to you to show them that love.

The Risk

Sadly, hugging and touching children can be risky in today’s world. Teachers are questioned about “appropriate touching” all too often. Some teachers prefer to stop touching kids altogether, but I don’t think Jesus would support that approach. Children need to be touched to feel loved. At the same time you must be careful to be above reproach and interact appropriately with them so they feel safe. I love to welcome new children with a gentle hand across the shoulder and guide them to their seat. This initial contact is not threatening and provides reassurance.

Examples

One morning a kindergartner came to class clutching a stuffed bear. She was not happy about leaving her mother. She immediately sat down next to a male helper and grabbed his arm as if her life depended on it. The helper just smiled and continued to listen to the lesson. Within a few minutes the child relaxed her hold. Soon her smile returned to its usual place and she joined in the activities. That moment of physical contact brought the security she needed.

A parent recently told me her son is also motivated to come to class because of this man. Mr. Jerry plays Legos with him during the transition time and then sits close during the lesson. Her son feels safe with his grown-up friend. Unfortunately, I’ve had to remind this boy that he may not hang on Mr. Jerry’s neck or wrestle with the other children for the spot closest to him.

At the beginning of class each week I commonly have a lineup of children anxious to show me new gaps in their smiles. I hold each chin and make eye contact so the children feel important. Eye contact is a hug with your eyes. Use it often: when you’re teaching, when you’re listening to a child’s memory verse, when you’re singing, even when you’re asking review questions.

Working with younger children provides more opportunities for touch. Help with a craft and guide the child’s hand as he cuts or applies glue or hold his hand on the way to the next activity.

Don’t be afraid to be the Master’s touch to the group of children He has placed in your care.

Protecting You and the Child

Practice Pairs

A partner is a great safety net so you have a witness in your defense against lawsuits. Even Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs.

Work with Windows

If you don’t have a partner be sure to have a window into your classroom so no one can question the activities in your room. Better yet leave the door open and let parents know you welcome visitors.

Limit Lap Time

Encourage children to sit next to you instead of on your lap. You’re protected against false accusations and more children can have contact with you at one time. This method also limits feelings of jealousy over unequal attention.

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