I have this student that can sometimes be a challenge to teach. She can give even the most patient, most knowledgeable and caring of teachers grey hairs. In spite of that, I have such great love for this child. When she isn’t throwing the fit of all fits she is a kind, lovable and fun to be with child. She is also very talented and bright. But the one thing I love most about her is her parents have taught her the value of her word.
TEACHING BY EXAMPLE
At five, J understands the value of keeping her word. I can tell that her parents model what it is to keep their word by keeping their word to her. She lives with the model of this every day as she experiences her parents interacting with her and others. At an early age she is learning that promises are not made to be broken, and she really takes this seriously.
J can be really emotional explosive at times. When she is upset she can jump higher than any NBA player or professional long jumper. When she comes crashing down with every molecule of anger or frustration that she is feeling it sounds like thunder, like King Kong. You’re afraid that she is going to go right through the floor. At times it would be so bad that I would pray before going into her class and every time I thought about her.
One day I talked to her after class about her behavior. I asked her to help me put my stamps away and some of the other props I use for class. I asked her questions, which I find are a great tool to have children understand things and come to their own conclusions. It seems to have more power and weight when it comes out of their mouths rather than hearing it from me.
FINDING A RESOLUTION
During this conversation J promised me that she would behave better in class. Really I said, do you really mean it? Yes, she said and I knew she was serious. So when she went into her jumping up and down like King Kong thing again the following week, I reminded her of her promise. It took a few seconds to get her composure but she stopped, almost immediately.
This worked from September to the end of December. Then last week we had another King Kong episode. I reminded her again of her promise but this time she was in both King Kong and Hissy fit mode combined. So I said nothing and just looked at her. Sometimes I do that when I am keeping my composure and trying to read children. Silence is good sometimes, I find that it creates space for ideas, solutions and other options to come through. It also stops me from reacting.
As I am looking at her it dawned on me that this was a new year. I say to J “oh this is a new year huh J, that means that you need to make a new promise right. She stops in almost mid-jump and looks back at me and nods her head “Yes.” So I asked her to promise for this year and that was the end of that.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO TEACH VALUES
I am very proud of her and her parents for this valuable lesson that J is learning and that her parents are teaching her. This is a success skill and characteristic that even many adults lack. By her learning to keep her promises and her word to herself and others she will accomplish significantly more. This is a characteristic that is never to early to teach children and the best way to teach is by example. What do you think I’d love to hear from you.