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Eyes Of Love: Guiding Children’s Behavior

Sam is as red as a beet! He was really upset and it showed. One of the other students inadvertently bumped into him while having a blast dancing. We were doing their favorite, Dora the Explorer as well as Diego. All the children were enthusiastically dancing along, arms and bodies all over the place. Try as I might to give everyone their own space, some light collisions still occur as they learn what their bodies can do and explore space.

Seeing what happened, I explained  to Sam that Isaiah really did not mean to bump into him and that it was an accident. Sam was having none of it, all he knew was that he was bumped and that he didn’t like it. Off to a corner of the room he ran as the other children continued to dance. I followed him with my eyes so that I would know where he was and that he would be safe. I then continued to dance along with the other children.


Normally it is expected of teachers to run after the distressed student. Depending on the student, I do go after this students also. In Sam’s case this was not the first time something like this had happened. I also understand where Sam is developmentally and know that he needs to be allowed to express his feelings and not to be made wrong for doing so. And although running to a corner when all of us are suppose to be dancing was not the correct behavior at the time, it was important that I worked with him in a way that was a win-win situation for us all.

So Sam gets to learn that he gets to express how he is feeling and yet the class and fun still continues. He gets to make a choice of whether he wants to participate or not. My job as the teacher is to make it so much fun that he can’t resist coming back. This is one of the best techniques that I use to redirect children and get things back on track. It is also a way of  encourage him to come back and join us.


I could have made a different choice and run to Sam and asked him to come and join us, but to do that would require me to leave the other 8 students I was working with. Knowing Sam as I do he would have resisted and just run to another location away from me. So I knew that that wouldn’t work.

Since I know that behavior like this is just a need for further attention, I gave him that attention with my eyes. There is something so powerful about eye contact. People feel connected to you and feel that you get them and really see them. I both smiled at him and made eye contact with him. I held this eye contact for as long as he did doing nothing but smiling and dancing.


It only took a few seconds before he started smiling and rejoined our group. I was happy and he was happy. Our dance class continued and we all had a great time. I made a mental note to myself to remember this. To make sure that I let my students know they are liked and cared for unconditionally. I am on their side.

I have noticed that there are much less outbursts  from Sam. I feel this is because when children feel you are for them and don’t make them wrong and you have a connection with them, they are less likely to act out to get attention. They are already receiving attention in a positive way. What have you noticed? I’d love to hear about your experiences and your views. Please feel free to share them.

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