Misbehaviour…horrors_Part 2

And I’m back with another principle of managing misbehaviour. :)  Last newsletter, we talked about being consistent when we deal with children… treating children seriously and sticking to our decisions.  Today we look at one more helpful principle.

The way we deal with misbehaviour should also be:

threatening child{NON-THREATENING}  Using threats with misbehaviour… which of us can honestly say that we’ve never done it before?  And all of us can attest to the fact that threats actually do work.  So why have I made a point never to use threats?  The reason is simple:  it makes the child focus on the wrong thing.  Case in point:  recently, one of my younger students had a hard time staying in her seat.  Younger children sometimes do.  She wriggled around, knelt on the chair, stood up, got off, walked around, showed me a cut on her foot… does this sound familiar?  So, I decided to give her five minutes of let-off-steam time.  The whole class stood up, did some bends, some jumping jacks, some stretches, and walked around the classroom for abit, then we all sat back down.  All except our friend. She decided that she wanted to stay at the whiteboard and draw.

What followed was the typical confrontation.  I asked her to sit, she ignored me. (Interestingly, children tend to do that rather than revert with an outright refusal).  I took her hand to lead her to her chair, and she pulled away.  At that point, it was sooooo tempting to threaten her:  “If you don’t sit down, I won’t give you stars on your paper later.”  But, I didn’t do it.  Because if I had, instantly, the child would be sitting down for the stars, and not because it was time to sit down.  The focus on self-regulation which I was trying to instill (“there’s a time to play and a time to work”) would have been thrown to the wind.

And if you think about it, every single time we use threats, we shift the child’s focus from our goal.  It never corrects the misbehaviour. It only forces the child to adapt his behaviour to get what he wants.  What we really want is to have the child learn to regulate his own behaviour, to learn that there are boundaries he must conform to.  If we use threats, we shift that focus.  The child would be sitting down because the stars are more important to him than playing.  One day when stars become less important to him, he will stop sitting down for you just to get the stars, and you would have to find something more powerful to motivate him.  It snowballs… and at the end, he would still not have learned and internalized that “when it’s time to sit down, I want to sit down.”

Instead of a threat, try to shift the responsibility to the child.  You want him to realize that behaving himself is not your problem—it’s his.  Let him know by your actions and reactions that he is the one who will benefit or suffer based on the way he behaves.  How do you do that?  Here’s one simple way: ask a “what can you do” question.  For instance, the child wants to play, but it is activity sheet time.  Talk to the child about it:

You want to play, don’t you?  But you know that when it’s time to work on our activity sheets, we musn’t play. [Give him time to think over what you said.  Then ask,] So what can you do about it?

Give him enough time to think about what you’re asking, and give him helpful suggestions if he seems to be lost.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results.  If you try this with a child, do feel free to share here! :)  We all need encouragement and tips once in awhile!

Thank you for reading!  Until next time, I wish you all the best!

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