Friday, June 11, 2010

Deal With It

So what do you do?

My 8 year old wanted to stay behind with my wife and two of his brothers to do some more shopping while I took the rest of the clan home.  As we were leaving the parking lot of our local Costco, Nevan changed his mind.  He wanted to go with Dad.  Alright, so we made the quick switch and we went our separate ways.  Unfortunately, Nevan thought twice about his decision but it was too late.  I had frozen foods and a 35 minute drive ahead, so, tough luck son. 

Then came the meltdown.  And what a meltdown it was. 

I've seen so many parents use the redirect with a kid having a meltdown.  Make 'em think about something else and the behavior changes.  Seems simple enough, but the problem with that is that the kid learns nothing.  It's no more than behavior modification via manipulation.  Yeah, I don't usually take that route. 

I think it's important for my son to learn how his thinking is selfish.  Can he be disappointed?  Sure.  But does he need to make everyone else pay for it?  No way. 

So we have a conversation about how whining doesn't do anything to change things.  We talk about how he was allowed to make a decision and now he has to deal with the consequences of his decision--for better or worse.  We discuss how it isn't fair to the others around him for him to carry on as he was.  Sure you're disappointed.  Sure you're big brown eyes well up with those crocodile tears which make me, for a moment, reconsider the importance of getting the bag of frozen berries home before they melt.  But the meltdown has to stop.

Would it have been easier to redirect?  Yeah, but it would have been a temporary fix.  I want my kids to grow up being able to take their thoughts captive and keep them from becoming behaviors.  I don't want to paint over the cracks in my kids character; I want to fix the foundation.  That takes time.  Lots of time. 

So does teaching.  When you see a kid doing a procedure incorrectly, do you just show them the right way or even worse (and if you do this, please stop) take the pencil out of their hands and do it for them?  Or if you are discussing a concept and a student demonstrates a misconception, do you simply correct it or do you ask questions to get them to see the error of their thinking? 

Good teaching takes time.  Patience.  Relationships. 

Everything else is just painting cracks.


JJ said...

The most pleasure I get in my classes (usually with 8 or 9 graders, I think that's the way you call them-12 or 13 years old) is when I see the light in their eyes after a few questions. If you achieve that they even notice the origin of their mistakes, you're doing a good job.

Elona Hartjes said...

I've found that a positive relationship based on mutual respect is the key to engaging my more struggling/reluctant students.

I've had the students I support tell me they will not do any work for teacher x because teacher x doesn't like them.