My Child Doesn’t Want To Join In

There Are Many Reasons Why

You are not alone in this, and there could be one (or two) reasons why a child won’t want to join in.
They will rarely be doing this on purpose, and sometimes we may need to be subtle detectives to find out why.

The most important advice I can give is – don’t turn this into a battle ground!

So……Why?

The first reason could be, simply put; they don’t understand.
Any child who is anxious will need time to understand. Some children who are neurodivergent will need time to understand ‘the rules’, how it works, and the all important question: “Why?”.

Secondly, children who have suffered any form of trauma will need to know it’s safe. This can also take time.

A stick man cartoon of a child. His body looks like a clock.

Thirdly, and the one most people can relate to, they don’t want to look silly.

For some children, it will take months to feel safe to join in – and that’s ok.

Let’s Look Deeper

Maybe there’s just one thing that is causing anxiety.
You know your child – trust your instincts on how to find out what it is. If possible chat it through and find if there is something you could change to make is feel safer. Design how you want to do this together – the time, the day and the how. What ‘ritual’ would help? (By ritual, I’m thinking habitual actions that precede devotions and prayers.)

For some children, Christian stuff is done in church, so doing things at home is ‘just wrong’ – because everything needs to have its place, and moving that space feels unsafe.
Maybe think about having a photo of the church displayed when you do these activities or devotions, or use google earth on the phone to digitally travel to ‘church’ before starting – a ritual that helps them to settle.
If you do story time and prayers in the evening, then evening may be the safe time because it’s already part of their routine.

A stickman cartoon of a child. he is standing at a desk and using a laptop.

To make it feel safe, your child might need the reasons, the rules and the space to regulate. Allow them the time to not join in until the routine feels safe for them.

Never introduce new things too quickly – take your time.

I learnt early on that there are some children that don’t want to show outward signs of their spiritual life. They might not want to do the activity, but they will do it in their head, they will pray inwardly. You may need to leave the activity out for a while and allow them to play around with it. But don’t assume nothing spiritual is happening.

You may need to use the same item to pray with for some time to allow a child to feel comfortable. For that reason, I will at some point produce various prayer activities you can do with one thing – there are many ways to pray with lego!

Be the example….

….And don’t be afraid to look silly!

Do the activity anyway, even if it’s just you. Make it look fun and build curiosity.

Invite your child to watch or help you carry out a specific part. For example: In the Thankful Lego Prayers, one of the ways to pray is to pick up a brick that’s the same colour as what you want to say thank you for. Choose something that has many different colours and ask your child for advice! Such as, “I want to say thank you for flowers – what colour do you think I should choose?” This takes away the demands that might be causing anxiety and gives an opening.

A stickman cartoon of a child holding a cube

Talk out loud about what you’re doing and the reasons why, or bring your child’s special interests into the activity – something they achieved on their Playstation or built in Minecraft.

Continuing with the Thankful Lego Prayers, one of the activities you can do is ‘build’ what you want to say thank you for. As you do it, ask for their advice, talk about what you’re doing, or even just say “I don’t know what to build – what do you think I need to be thankful for? Again this feels less like a ‘demand’ and more like ‘help me out’.


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