One beautiful Friday morning, the day of the week when everyone is buzzing with anticipation for the weekend, a student from my Kids Yoga Teacher Training Course shadowed me teaching kids yoga. She followed me through three kids’ yoga classes with children six years old and younger.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Teach Kids Yoga

By the time children are six they’ve been in school for a while and, usually, know the protocol for being in a classroom.  Basically, they know how to make a circle, they know when it’s okay to talk quietly with a neighbor, but they also know when the teacher talks to you, you listen. By the time a child has been in school for a couple years they’ve accepted the idea that the teacher is in charge in the classroom.

classroom management is and essential skill when working with children.

What to do when kids don’t listen?

But when a child is in their first years of school, it’s a different story.  As you might expect from younger children, the two and three year old tikes, they’re the ones discovering the boundaries.  Many have come from a home environment where the whole day focused around their needs and desires.  So it’s a rude awakening, at least they find it rude, when they are suddenly expected to change.

It can be a tough transition for both students and teachers.

So as I said, you learn to expect that these little ones sometimes forget they don’t get to do everything they want and end up rolling around on top of each other like little lion cubs at play.  These little lion cubs only stop when the lioness comes around to redirect them.

Now, it’s Friday morning and here we are on the floor of the yoga class with eight children around two and three years old, a student kids yoga teacher, a school teacher and me.  We just finished doing a yoga pose; I can’t remember exactly which one, probably cobra, downward dog or bundle rolls, a few of my favorites.

What to Expect that You Don’t Want

I’m bringing the yoga class back to a circle and all eyes are on me, except for one pair, that of a two year old who would much rather wrestle with a friend.   As the teacher, I redirect with one of my go-to instructions, “Johnny Two-Year- Old (pretend name) come and sit beside me.”

“No!”  says Johnny.

Slight pause to recover from this brazen act of defiance and then like a super-hero, in a split second I analyze my possible responses:

  1. Johnny Two-Year- Old: “No!”
    Me:  “Excuse me?  Oh yes you will.”  (I have to admit this is often the first reaction that I fight back.)
  2. Johnny Two-Year- Old: “No!”
    Me:  “Get over to that spot right now. You are in school and not at home and this is how things happen at school whether you like it or not.  This school is not here to cater to you ….” continue on with 4 or 5 more valid points.
  3. Johnny Two-Year- Old: “No!”
    Me:  “Would you like to sit beside Mary instead?”

What would you go with?  Be honest!  I know I’ve gone with all the choices over the years with different students, at different times, we all fall back on these at times.

Here’s what I went with and how it played out. Drum roll please…..

Me:  “Johnny, come and sit beside me.”

Johnny Two-Year- Old:  “No!”

Me:  “Would you like to sit beside Mary instead?”

Johnny Two-Year- Old:   “Yes.” (goes and sits down beside Mary)

Crisis averted, Super Teacher saves the day!

My point is, sometimes classroom management doesn’t have to be stressful.  Sometimes you’re doing classroom management without even realizing what you are doing because it goes so smoothly it’s unnoticed.

Unless you notice because you have a student teacher watching you like that Friday morning!

What would you tell a new teacher to do when a child flat out says, “No!”?   What do you do when it happens to you as a teacher? Or maybe it doesn’t happen to you – let us know your secret!

Leave your advice or questions in the comments.

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People are registering for the Young Yoga Masters Kids Yoga Teacher Training from all over the world.  Summer is a great time to visit Toronto, Canada and upgrade your skills.  Please contact me for information on accommodations and options for shadowing me  at a kids class while you are here.

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Kids Yoga Teacher Training Yoga Alliance Registered Childrens Yoga School

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Upcoming Dates

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  1. Great tip! Choices provide children a sense of control over the situation and can help tremendously with behavior management. I just pulled up an old post on behavior management from our blog, The Kids’ Yoga Resource. It includes some more helpful tips as well:

    Thank you so much for sharing – I always love your posts.

  2. I have been in a Parks and Recreation program where the class was a big extended family that had all registered for my youth yoga. The boys were especially rowdy towards each other. I came up with an idea of having them do a performance for the last class. You have never seen so many surprised looks on the faces of kids. I assigned someone to be narrator or emcee, and then asked the Parks and Recreation staff to be our audience. Those kids went from rowdy relatives to down right star performers in my last class with them. I guess everyone really wants to be a star!

    • Love it! Great way to get the kids involved. This is a perfect example of how good classroom management goes unnoticed.

      Thanks for the comment.