Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Taming the tyrants

I enjoy a challenge.  Teaching and capturing the attention and interest of children is always a challenge.  This challenge is made greater with the mix of various personalities and discipline problems.  I find the most difficult problems to deal with come in the form of manipulations.  To be quite honest I also find that most adult never develop much past the kindergarten level of problem solving because they tend to use these same forms of manipulation.  Here are a few that are most common.
The "I forgot" manipulation
When the child is asked why he or she did not do what she was instructed to do they say, "Oh yeah, I forgot".  This is a common response by the child to try to get out of being scolded for not doing what he or she was told to do.  They reason that if they 'forgot' then they should not be held responsible.  If this type of behavior is allowed to go unchecked you will find that there is a lot of forgetfulness taking place.  The best way to deal with this is to say, "Well we never forget that which is very important to us so I think this is just not important to you.  It is, however important to me so we will have to think of some way to help you remember. Now is the time to think of a consequence that is a natural result of whatever they forgot such as: if they forgot to clean up their work space they must go back and clean it up and clean up something else as well.  When forgetfulness is met with unpleasantness it is amazing how the memories work better.
The "I don't know manipulation
When children are asked why they did something wrong they often respond with "I don't know".  Let's say this is really the truth.  They may really not know why they did what they did but it is powerfully important that they find out.  I would respond with "Well, this is a very important thing for you to know otherwise you will continue to do it over again.  I am going to leave you by yourself while you think about why you did this.  When you think you have it figured out let me know and we will continue this discussion."  This is effective for not only the child who really does not know why he did what he did but also for the child who just does not want to discuss it.  Children need to come to grips with why they behave the way they do and be motivated to do things in a more productive manner.
Tears
It is important to discern the difference between tears of repentance and tears which are designed to make you back down.  A child is often very good at making us feel sorry for them so that we move from correction to comforting.    If the child is inconsolable respond by saying in a kind and patient voice, "I am sorry this has you so upset.  I will leave you alone for awhile until you can cry it out.  When you feel better let me know and we can continue this conversation."  This does two things, first if the child is really needing to just gain control you are giving him the space but if the child is trying to manipulate you with tears so that he will not get in trouble or have to face his consequences this does not feed that.  When the child has calmed down continue with your discussion and the consequences of his wrong behavior.
Temper Tantrums
We have all had the fine pleasure of being on the receiving end of an explosion of anger.  It may come in the form of screaming, throwing things, or a child throwing himself down on the floor and kicking or banging his head.  If the child is not in any danger, remove the child to his room or to a isolated location and let him finish his tantrum without an audience.  Tantrums are designed to force you to give in to whatever the child wants.  They are stripped of value when there is no audience.  If you must remain in the room try your best to ignore the child as if he was not present.  When the tantrum is finished it will be time for the consequences.  Under no circumstances should a child who has just blessed you with his anger be given what he wanted.  When we give in even after an apology we are sending the unspoken message that a child will get what he wants if he displays his anger.  If a child had a tantrum over not getting the toy he wanted the toy will be off limits for a period of time. When the toy is allowed again it is presented with the reminder of why it was taken away and that it can be taken away again if the behavior is repeated.
Refusal to look at you
When you are speaking to a child, good manners dictates that he should show respect by looking at you.  When a child who is being corrected refuses to look at you they are taking control of the situation the best they can.  Rather than force the child to look at you (which is nearly impossible) it is best to simply say,"Okay, I can see that you are not ready to talk this over with me right now.  I will leave you alone while you work through your anger.  When you are ready to look at me and discuss this like a big girl or a big boy let me know and I will be back."  You should never engage in a power struggle you cannot win and when a child closes his eyes or turns his eyes away from you you are in this situation.  Regain the control by making him remain by himself without any thing to do or any company until he is willing to come your way.
Flattery
This can sometimes be cute but it is still a form of manipulation.  Perhaps you have seen this form a grown person.  It is not so cute when it is full grown.  When a child is in trouble and he immediately begins complimenting you simply say, "Thank you, I am thankful you think I am pretty but right now I don't want to talk about that." Then bring it back to the point at hand.

These are but a few of the ways our charming little children can use to disrupt our classrooms or our homes.  Teaching them to grow into responsible adults who can take ownership of their mistakes and monitor their own behavior is definitely a challenge but one with eternal rewards.

Next week I would like to discuss how to manage a group of children in a classroom so that the learning experience is also a pleasant experience.

12 comments:

  1. Hi, thanks for the post, my daughter is almost one years old, so I havent had to experience these things yet, but I am greatful for your advice, I will def keep aware of how kids can try and manipulate the situation and make sure I catch myself if going from correction to comforting. I will be sharing this on my mamas for his glory facebook page .blessings

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  2. Good points. I especially like the part about "I forgot manipulation and flattery."

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  3. Such a common excuse and we use it as adults also.

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  4. Hello Wanda, these are some very wise points that we are not always aware that children and adults are using. It is good to be reminded that we are seeing them in everyday lives and situations.
    The old saying flattery will get you everywhere has some truth!
    Blessings, Roxy

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    1. Like the book,"Everything I learned about life I learned in Kindergarten." So true.

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  5. Looking at all of these now as ways I see adults use them as well. :) You're very right. The same strategies occur at every age. Yikes.

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    1. Yes, It does make us look at ourselves. LOL.

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  6. My daughter was easier to manage, but my son has been quite challenging at times. These will be very useful tools in my parenting tool belt. I especially like your approach to "I forgot" and "I don't know."

    Stopping by from the Women of Worship Link up.

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    1. Yes, I find that even as adults we tend to remember what is important to us. It is our job to help our children value what we are trying to teach them.

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  7. I have a child who won't look at me, especially when she is angry or hurt. We are working on this!! Thanks for the post!!

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    1. this is her way of maintaining some manner of control.

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  8. I remember all of these. This is so good for both parents dealing with these responses in children and teachers. Thank you for taking the time to write about this.

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