Today I greeted a three year old girl who visited our early childhood kids church for the second time. She was tiny. Sweet. And she did not want to let go of mommy. Her mother and I exchanged a knowing look, and she placed the crying child in my arms. The girl wept as her whole world walked out the door. I comforted her the best I knew how. I rocked her, and rubbed her back gently, and wiped her tears as they fell from her cheeks.
I have learned to allow young children about fifteen minutes of tears before thinking about reuniting them with their parents. Typically I am able to redirect them by that time. It is not an exact science. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. I try to guage whether they seem to be calming down and gaining an interest in the morning’s activities. If the tears are only increasing and they are inconsolable, then I certainly will arrange to bring them back to their parents. But if they progress well so that the tears abate substantially during those first fifteen minutes, then that is a pretty good indication they will be able to remain throughout the morning.
This little girl did just that. I paired her with one of my female teen leaders who did a marvelous job of comforting her and leading her all morning. By the end of the session, the child was dancing and playing with smiles and giggles. It was a small step into a bigger world where she will learn gradually to let go of mommy in situations such as kids church.