Kids know: Sharing and including is way more fun

A surprising lesson from a kids game:

I played musical chairs with my Sunday school kids in two ways. First the traditional version with chairs numbering one less than the players participating arranged, music played, and when the music stopped the children scrambled to claim a chair. One sad-faced child did not find a seat and skulked away, excluded to watch forlornly while the other children played. One more chair removed, and so on.

For the second version, we started out with one less chair at the beginning, same as always, and we removed one chair on each round, same as always. The difference was no child was ever eliminated or excluded. When the music stopped, the children found chairs BUT everyone had to have a place, even if it meant sharing.

What warmed my heart more than anything? The kids shared their chairs even when they didn’t have to.

They didn’t evenly distribute themselves to claim space and only share when there were no more empty chairs. We removed one chair per round and when the music stopped there would be two or three left over. Kids reached out to take other kids by the hand to say, “Sit with me.” They were smiling and laughing and hugging. It was wonderful.

Including everyone was happier than excluding and rejecting. Sharing was more satisfying than staking out space alone.

The first time the kids played they did as they were told and followed the rules of the game. They didn’t question the dog-eat-dog nature of the game. The second time they also followed rules, but they were better thought-out rules, and it was way more fun. Inclusion is important in our affirming church. The kids lived that intuitively when playing a game.

How often do we follow dog-eat-dog rules without question when we could easily change the rules to a much more fun, satisfying option?

We must be careful and mindful of the rules we teach our children. What an awesome responsibility.

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on May 8, 2018, in Arlene Smith, Arlene Somerton Smith, good faith, Inspiration, Living life to the fullest, modern faith, progressive christianity, spirituality and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I love the sharing aspect, and agree that it’s critical if we are to become the best we can be. But, at the same time, kids need to learn that life is full of disappointments and there will always be winners and losers, so I think we need to be careful when we get into an “everyone wins” situation.

    • I agree that not everyone wins and learning how to win and lose gracefully is important. I also agree that outstanding effort should be rewarded, so I’m not a fan of giving participation rewards to everyone at any given event regardless of how much or how little effort was put in. But when the circumstance involves choosing to include or exclude, including is WAY more fun.

  2. Phyllis Bohonis

    What a wonderful, nurturing church you belong to. The kids are lucky to be surrounded by such a caring community and resourceful Sunday School teacher.

  3. Love it! We can learn so much from children.

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