December 6, 2009

Don't Make Your Kids Behave: Help Them Behave

This great article by John Hoffman restates an obvious, but often overlooked, truth in dealing with children: telling them to behave isn't nearly as effective as helping them behave.  Every teacher and every parent has found themself in the position of sounding like a broken record when dealing with the kids in their care.  Telling a young child to wait, clean up or sit still is a enormous, sometimes impossible, request.  But, especially under the pressure of being in public, parents and teachers seem to expect their charges to develop these abilities unassisted.

The next time you're in the checkout line at the grocery store and your little ones start to misbehave, distract them with a game.  Reach out and take their hand.  Talk about the things you see around you, or what you'll do once you leave the store.  Let's face it: the checkout line is boring.  A bored child is going to find a way to entertain himself, and not necessarily in a way you'll like.

The same goes for teachers and day care providers.  If you're taking your class on a field trip, plan for a time-filler in case of delay.  What if the bus breaks down, and you suddenly have twenty children to keep safe and quiet while you wait for a new bus?  It may seem unlikely, but I was on a field trip in high school where that very thing occurred.  Fortunately we were old enough to wait patiently, but what if we would have been an elementary school class?  Try having a list of questions prepared about where you're going or where you've been, or play a game if space allows.

Does this mean you must forever play entertainer to a bunch of little tyrants?  Of course not.  You can gradually raise your expectations as your children get older and are ready.  But if you can distract or otherwise engage a child before they misbehave, you've turned a negative situation into a positive interaction.  If you always make a positive response your first one, you and your kids will be more calm, positive and happy.  

No comments:

Post a Comment