Take time for training. Role-play a problem situation with a child individually or during a class meeting. Allow the child to play the role of the adult and to practice both unacceptable and acceptable responses. Then encourage the child to express the feelings he experienced when in the adult role. Reverse roles, and go through the process again.
Develop an atmosphere of trust by helping children to see that you are more interested in solutions to problems than in identifying or punishing those who misbehave.
Stephanie, a new teacher at the Frazier preschool, came into the program director's office in despair. Several of the four-year-olds in her class were hitting her and refusing to obey her, and this week two children had spit in her face.
The director asked Stephanie how she had handled this behavior. Stephanie said she had told the children who hit and disobeyed that she didn't like it when they behaved that way. When the children spit at her, she had been too stunned to know how to respond. Finally she decided to stay out of the range of children who spit, and whenever anyone hit her the whole class had to miss recess.
The director asked Stephanie whether or not she was willing to try something new. Stephanie replied that she definitely was, because these kids were so disrespectful she couldn't imagine finishing out the school year.
Together Stephanie and the director developed a plan. First of all, Stephanie was going to model self-respect by taking care of her own needs. If a child hit her or spit at her, Stephanie would turn away from the offending child and remove herself from the child's range.
When both she and the child were calmer, she would sit down with the child and spend some time getting to know him or her. They would then discuss what had happened and how each of them felt about it. Together they would discuss how they might solve this problem between them. They would work on it as a team.
One week later, when Stephanie reported back to the director, she was astonished at what was happening. Ever since she had begun getting to know the children personally, she had felt herself relaxing and approaching each day with less stress. The atmosphere of tension and resistance in the classroom was changing as well.
By winter break, Stephanie found it difficult to believe that the cooperative and respectful children in her classroom were the same people with whom she had begun the school year. They were still far from a perfect class, but Stephanie enjoyed being with them. Stephanie had learned the power of mutual respect.
Excerpted from Positive Discipline: a Teacher's A to Z
Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and San Clemente, CA. She is the author and/or coauthor of the numerous books, including Positive Discipline. Jane's doctorate degree in Educational Psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1979 is secondary to the education and experience she achieved from her successes and failures as a mother of seven children. She now shares this wealth of knowledge and experience as a popular keynote speaker and workshop leader throughout the country. Jane has appeared on Oprah, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Twin Cities Live, and was the featured parent expert on the National Parent Quiz with Ben Vereen.
Copyright © Positive Discipline.com. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.