Misbehaviour…horrors_Part 3

So we’ve covered consistency and not using threats in managing misbehaviour.  We’re down to the last post of this series, and it’s a challenging one to make your own!

{DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY}

Working with young children requires a surprising amount of emotional maturity.  I used to think that since I am working with young children, it wouldn’t hurt to show the child in me (After all, “child-like, but not childish” is the catch phrase in early childhood, isn’t it!).  In the two plus years I’ve worked with the very little ones, however, I’ve learned the contrary!

Children haven’t learned to read your emotions and body language the way adults do.  Consequently, they are often blunt and way too straightforward.  Their frankness can deal a blow to our adult egos—we’re used to having criticism nicely packaged in positive words, having people be considerate of our likes and dislikes and preferences…but all that is overlooked when it comes to children!

When it comes to conflict, the situation is no different.  Sometimes, when dealing with misbehaviour, we will come across raw hurtful confrontations. Case in point:

I worked hard, very hard, on a lesson.  I planned the break time activity, craft time, and lesson to integrate the topic I was teaching.  All done, I was excited to see how it would turn out at lesson time.  Alas, for my planning, my students were not in a good mood.  Perhaps they were tired after a long day, or perhaps something had happened just before they came for my class.  Whatever it was, their response was not just unenthusiastic; it was downright negative!  The lesson went poorly.  My students did not cooperate well with each other nor with me.

Then, near the end of the lesson, one of them started complaining.  When I announced that we would start on our craft project, he whined, “Huhhhhhh?  Why do we have to do that?  Why can’t we paint?”  When I asked them to use glue, he whined, “Glueeeee?  But glue is so sticky.  I want to use masking tape.”  When I suggested that they decorate the finished product, he whined, “Whyyyy?  I don’t want to do anymore. I don’t like to decorate.”  Major attitude issue!

If I had not been sensitive and aware of the reasons for his misbehaviour, I would have taken his whiny attitude as a personal insult to my hard work, and would have snapped at him.  (I assure you, I was strongly tempted!)  Instead, I swallowed my annoyance and calmly suggested that we take a break to wash our hands and prepare to wrap up our class for the day.

There will be times when you will have a strong temptation to slap a child, to snap at him, to give him a good shake and tell him to grow up.  That is when you must remember, he is acting that way because he is still… a child.  That is why we call them children—because they are not yet old enough to act and think like an adult.  Understanding this will go a long, long way to helping you deal calmly with misbehaviour.  When they act up, they rarely do it with the intention of insulting us personally.  Their reasons are usually more superficial and shallow.

It is not the natural human response, especially when we are put under pressure; but keeping emotionally distant from frustrating situation will be perhaps the best personal strategy you can adopt when dealing with misbehaviour from children.  It would eliminate the shouting, the random punishments and threats, and the intimidation you are apt to be responsible for when you are dealing with difficult situations.  Whatever they do or say, never take it personally!

I hope this series has been helpful to you!  Thank you for reading!

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