The no box

Jose – Thanks for the back to back posts. Both got me thinking. I am going to respond to at least one. Maybe two. We’ll see. About being wrong. At the early childhood level it is actually considered a capital offense to tell a young child they are wrong. I am kidding but, not really. […]

Jose –

Thanks for the back to back posts. Both got me thinking. I am going to respond to at least one. Maybe two. We’ll see.

About being wrong.

At the early childhood level it is actually considered a capital offense to tell a young child they are wrong. I am kidding but, not really. Telling a little kid they are wrong is just well…wrong. You tell them, “Good try.” or “I see where you tried to do this…” or at the very harshest, “I think you can do better.”

What should still be up for discussion, and in some circles isn’t, is telling a child “No.” Telling a child no, in some of the best most creative preschools in the world is the same thing as saying “You’re wrong.” It is saying, your way of being in the world is wrong. You must fit in this box. Usually, in more traditional settings, that box is a very simple but strong one that the teacher carries around with them called, the “What I can deal with today” box.

Personally, I have one of those boxes except I have tried to broaden and expand my “No” box, especially since I went back to teaching. I have tried to turn my “No” box into a “No, but….” box. 🙂

When I was teaching three years ago I was extremely effective and I had a very sturdy “No” box modeled after the “No” box I knew my kids would get put in when they went to Kindergarten.

No, hitting.

No, screaming.

No, distracting other kids.

Etc. etc. When a child did these things they got the “No. You can’t ….” Carrying around that box may have been one of reasons I got tired and went into middle management.

Now I avoid power games at all costs. I only offer options. “No you can’t hit but, you can say…..” or “No you can’t throw the truck but you can, roll it really fast.” Don’t get me wrong. I still believe children need to hear no. I believe they crave it because they want to know that they can’t just do anything they want. If they could, anything could be done to them.

When I entered the classroom this year I decided I was going to learn a new form of martial arts. I call it psychological jiujitsu.  The most effective move is when I use love to re-channel anger. For example, a child grabs a book out of another child’s hand. I give the child who lost the book a big hug. Hold them. Ask them what happened. By the time I get to this point the other child has usually noticed there is a whole lot of attention being given out and they aren’t getting any. Then when we do a little conflict resolution the book stealer gets just as much care as the other before being scooted back into playing. Can I do it every time? No, but…. When I can it is powerful.

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