Get On Eye Level


Get on eye level

Speak Softly

Explain what you want the behaviour to be

Anticipate Problems

Be Nearby

Praise when you see it

Be consistant, same treatment for those you like and those you don’t like

Ignore a lot of the small stuff

Gentle touch as a reminder

The child’s behavior is not a public forum, talk privately

Embarrassment is not the solution

These seem simple enough and there are only ten in no particular order.  Let me break them down for you.

  1. Get on eye level – look at the child and have them look at you.  They may not agree, but you can look for understanding.  If they don’t understand what you mean by “bad” then you will see that blank look and know that you need to explain what your “bad” means, as opposed to grandma’s “bad” or Uncle James’ “bad”.
  • Speak Softly – yelling and screaming are intimidation tactics.  These are children, not soldiers.  Say what you want conveyed in a soft gentle, but firm voice.  Even whisper.  You will be amazed at how quiet a room can get when you lower your voice and have something important to tell the class.
  • Explain what you want the behavior to beit is no good saying, “Don’t do that again.”  What?  Breath, smile, hit, cry, blink, pass gas, kick, stick your tongue out?  Explain what you saw, “You tried to take the doll from Sarah and she had been playing with it.” Explain what you want to see or the desired behavior.  “I understand that she has had the doll a long time and you want to play with it too but you have to ask her can you have a turn now or play with the other doll.”
  1. Anticipate problemsYou already know now that Alexandra runs away when she gets out the door.  Stand in front, have another leader, hold her hand or in some way halt her from running away.  You know that your circle time wigglers will only pay attention for 3 minutes.  Cut circle time down; make it more interactive; put the wigglers next to you and the other teacher/s; give them something to do specifically; allow them to leave when their bodies cannot take anymore.
  • Be nearby – this is not just in location but also in mind.  Ever been in the room – you think about what to buy at the grocery store after work – you look at the table and there is paint everywhere on the table, floor, chairs, papers, and children.  BUT YOU WERE RIGHT THERE!  In addition, make sure you and the co-teacher have all the room space covered.  Position yourself so you are available and can view most of the room.  Never put your back to any of the children at any time.  Turn your chair around so that you are able to track where they are from where you are.
  • Be consistent – same treatment for those you like and those you do not like. Let us be truthful and honest. There is that one child that smells warm and cuddly and dresses so well and the mother and father are wonderful to you. Then, there’s that other child that comes in dirty with the paint from Monday and the mother gets snippy over everything.  He runs and you tenderly ask him please walk inside the classroom. She runs and you yell at her to sit down. If The Rule is WALKING FEET INSIDE and that goes for Smell Good and Snippy Mom’s Child. Once you become unfair, every child will look for it and detect it immediately everywhere with everyone you are treating inconsistently.
  • Praise when you see it. “I like the way Matthew is standing ready to go outside.”  Then every child will look at Matthew and stand like him and you’ve got order. Remember to be specific.  “Good job” and “Well done” do not exactly tell what other children should watch for or what you saw that was sensational.
  • Ignore a lot of the small stuff – Face it!  Some of it is just small, petty, little, itty-bitty behaviors that do not hurt anyone in anyway.  You know what it is:  twisting and wiggly during a certain time; dropping something on the floor; staring into space; sticking their tongue out at nothing in particular; picking at something invisible on their clothes or body; a hundred-minute things that get on your nerves for no reason. Spend your time teaching, not finding fault.  True story – I was observing a teacher during a circle time and I only started counting half way through.  By the end of circle time, I had tallied 18 times she had called one child’s name.  Around 11, I started watching him.  He was a wiggler.  Nothing more.  But his presence must have triggered an irritation button for her.
  • The child’s behavior is not a public forum, talk privately.  Embarrassment is not the solution.  Instead of shouting out the transgression, merely whisper the violators name softly to get his attention and eye.  Gently remind him/her of the behavior you would prefer to see.  If attention-seeking was the goal, then telling everyone what happened will achieve that goal.  Find ways to give attention in a positive happy way.
  • Gentle touch as a reminder – I’m not talking about the snatching, grabbing, rough pushing, or man-handling of any child for any reason.  But a soft touch on the shoulder or arm, just as a reminder of what we are supposed to be doing can be enough.  As human beings, we need human touch.  Do you hug, pat, smile, talk to, rub, and embrace each child daily just to show them you and they are both alive and cared about?
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