When teachers or parents start getting frustrated with children they often resort to asking questions to get back control of the situation. The problem is when these questions aren’t really questions but are criticisms disguised as questions.
Questions like these don’t help with classroom management and don’t help the child correct their behavior either.
- A pre-school teacher assisting in yoga class who pulls an overactive 3 year old out of the room, stands over her asking: “Are you a baby? Do you want to go to the baby room? Why are you acting like a baby?”
- A parent overheard in the grocery store saying (loudly) to a little 3 or 4 year old girl: “If I’m right beside you, why are you yelling?”
If these children answered it would probably go something like:
- “I guess I am a baby because you’re talking to me like I’m a big loser and an idiot.”
- “I’m yelling because that’s what you do when you want my attention.”
These types of questions just don’t work. I’ve NEVER heard a child give what I suppose is the desired answer:
- “No I’m not a baby, so I will stop my goofing around and start acting like a three year old.”
- “Mommy, you’ve pointed out my error so well, I better use a softer voice.”
In my experience, children never actually answer these types questions. They just stand there frozen, not sure what to do or say, feeling bad about themselves. In terms of classroom management, it may stop the behavior for a while, but in the long term it doesn’t provide the leadership required to help children become the leaders of the future. It lowers their self esteem by making them feel incompetent.
Instead of Questions, Be a Role Model…
A great teacher doesn’t let unwanted behavior go unnoticed either. We don’t serve children if they can’t sit still or aren’t aware of how loud they are talking. Instead try some other approaches. Like:
- the teacher assisting can calmly walk over to an overactive three year old and sit beside them and with one or two words, remind them of what everyone is doing (“cobra pose, everyone is doing cobra pose”), and modeling the behavior they want,
- A tired mom in the grocery can drop down, look her daughter in the eye and say, “Please speak softer” in the same tone she wants her daughter to use.
Both Yoga and Classroom Management require Sadhana, a consistent practice that helps us succeed at our goal. Sadhana is done with devotion, not with criticism or questioning. Consistency brings us to the state we desire through practice, reflection on our actions, and observation of what we are doing and how it is working.
Teachers and parents are role models for children in ALL we do. These children will become the role models of the future. We need to commit to consciously creating the kind of class we want the same way a true yogi commit to their Sadhana.
This week bring awareness to your use of questions. Are they real questions waiting for real answers or criticisms disguised as questions. If you are not sure, what answer are you looking for when you ask? If you want the child to answer with a specific response, it’s probably not a real question.
If you realize it’s a criticism, and you don’t know what else to do, start by simply stating your frustration, “You’re moving around too much.” or “You’re too loud.” It’s an honest starting place and a move away from those other questions.
Then re-direct with a precise description of what you. And do it like the yogis – with consistency, with love, and make it like a mantra – short, sweet, and elevating!
Please feel free to share your classroom management stories and how you re-direct children. It will help all of us to get new ideas and tools.
Aruna Kathy Humphrys
P.S. Thanks to everyone who entered the Eoin Finn DVD Giveaway for Pure and Simple Yoga. The random winner is Betherann – who blogs over at ww.kitchencourage.com. Congratulations.