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Helping kids transition into youth group image

Helping kids transition into youth group

Attending youth group for the first time can be less stressful with the right support from parents.

Like life, childhood is a series of transitions. No one likes change, but as adults we have learned to manage it. Kids need help in learning to manage transitions, and there are things we can do as parents to help make it easier.

A recent transition in our family was starting Youth Group at a new church. Here are some reflections on what helped us:

  • We prepared our son by saying that it might take time to make new friends and get fully settled. Maybe this would happen quickly (bonus!) but it usually takes a while, perhaps many months, to break into groups and get established.

  • We made attendance a priority and helped him be enthusiastic (even when we didn’t feel like going out to drop him off either). This helped him to form the habit of being there every week; helped him get established more quickly with peers; and helped him develop a ministry mindset (for example, inviting friends to come because he planned to be there).

  • We made an effort to meet and get to know the youth leaders, stayed around to chat at drop-off, pick-up etc. We got involved in the meal/supper roster. This all helped us ‘sus out’ the dynamics of what was going on so we could chat to our son about it, and understand the ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’.

  • We invited peers over to our home so our son could further develop relationships with kids he clicked with. We also caught up with whole families so the kids could all hang out with a bit less pressure.

  • Things like weekends away and social outings were considered a priority for him. These are times of very valuable shared experience for the kids. Missing them is a double-whammy: not only do they miss high value ‘assimilation’ time, but they feel excluded from the inevitable ‘war stories’ once back at the regular group.


Whatever the situation, the first step is for parents is to recognise that transitions always involve a move out of the comfort zone. Reassure your child that it is perfectly normal to be apprehensive, nervous or worried. Chat about what it was like for you (I bet you remember!) Give them a chance to express what they are most worried about.

Fears get cut down to size a bit when you say them out loud. Even if they are non-talkers (we have one of those), all kids crave security. They need to hear reassurance that you are there for them no matter what other things are changing in their world, and to know that you care.

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