My husband Robert and I are working to teach our 6-year-old son the age-old lesson of:
Do Unto Others as You Would Want Them to Do Unto You.
The source of this lesson, in all its various wordings, can be found in just about every religion you can think of. But how do you help a child who is still working on conquering his own body and emotions to understand more about how he should treat others?
After trying the usual approaches of scolding, bribing, appealing to and everything else in our arsenal, all of which had limited workability, we decided to try something different.
We went for this approach: “Give it a PERSONAL TOUCH.”
At first, it seemed FAR TOO SIMPLE an answer: NOTHING can be THAT simple. However, we discovered that really listening to him, in all his moods (and despite them), and letting him know we understood and CARED (not sympathized but C-A-R-E-D) worked!
We WANTED him to succeed and we made sure that came across in our actions, not just in scolding words.
We were considerate, helpful. We were warm when we really wanted to be scream!
We were polite in the face of rudeness.
We took responsibility for the fact that we, as adults, had to create the comforting, safe and cheerful home and school environments we wanted FOR ALL OF US.
Recently while teaching at my son’s school, after 2 days of various classroom infractions of rules on his part, I calmly sent him out of the classroom to separate him from the group of students who were trying to study, and asked him to decide for himself if he wanted to be part of the class.
I added that being part of the class meant following the class rules – rules that all the students had helped to choose and had agreed to – rules to guide him and his fellow students to TREAT EACH OTHER LIKE THEY WANT TO BE TREATED THEMSELVES.
He was instructed to write a note stating what rules he broke and whether he would do them again. It was his choice and it was the KINDEST thing I could have done.
He had lost control of himself and he knew it. He was distracting and disturbing and KNEW IT.
That I called him on it (calmly, nicely, and politely) was far worse that being yelled at. Had I yelled or snapped at him, his thoughts would only have been that he was “being yelled at” not “Why did I get in trouble – which rules did I break?”
The thing I, as an adult, had to muster and keep up was TOLERANCE. Tolerance for the misbehavior is not the same as letting him run free or not enforcing the agreed upon penalties for misbehavior.
TOLERANCE can be the #1 trait that differentiates a regular teacher or parent into a SUPER TEACHER or PARENT.