Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Practice vs Punishment

Image from Kristy Lee Memes ` Gentle Parenting Inspiration on Facebook

This is such an awesome reminder especially as we start a new 'school year' .... when we see 'behaviour' in young children it is merely a reflection of the skills one has mastered OR in some cases the skills one is still working to master if only someone would take the time to coach them on how! 

When a child is scribbling outside the lines or holding their scissors all wonky so they wont cut or they just cannot seem to grasp that 2+2 = 4 or that blue and green are different colours we do not feel the need 'punish' them. We see that they are struggling and we COACH them with more practice until they 'get it'. This reaction comes naturally and easily IMO mostly because the behaviours they are exhibiting affects no one but the child themselves. We do not seem to see it as a 'personal reflection' on our self when they are struggling with academics nor do we think 'she is scribbling like that just to spite or manipulate me into colouring that for her'. 

However when we find a child is whining instead of using their words or throwing a tantrum because they did not get what they wanted or cannot make something work or the little one's who is aggressive because they do not know how to resolve conflict or enter play and are stuck in the 'fight or flight' impulse we, as a society,we tend to believe we need to feel that this is done 'on purpose' somehow to push our buttons. 

We have this value system that negative behaviours related to 'social skills' are some how a 'slight' towards us, they are questioning our authority or are an attempt to manipulate those around them. Therefore they a reflection of our childrearing and parenting skills that we 'allow' this behaviour to happen. We feel much more invested to 'stop' the behaviour and as a result we tend to look to 'punishment'  in order to correct it as quickly as possible. When the reality is that this behaviour is typically a cry for HELP and an indication that the child needs support to acquire BETTER coping skills in the world ... they do not benefit or acquire new skills through punishment or loss of privilege but rather through support and reflecting on the natural consequences of their behaviour, ideas and strategies on better choices they can make next time and an action plan moving forward. 

As an early childhood educator I can totally empathize that it is a fine line when dealing with behaviours that affect 'others' to find that balance between keeping the other children 'safe' in a group setting while still ensuring that the child who needs support and help to master empathy, impulse control and anger management skills has opportunities to 'practice' acquiring the skills they need.

Investing in giving children time to practice totally helps with moving more quickly to acquire the skills desired.

We love to make use of 'puppets' for role playing and practice cause a puppet can do things that  sometimes an adult cannot to help ~ like bop another puppet on the head to talk about how that might feel and is it a positive choice to solve the problem ;)

Do not under estimate the power of reading books where the characters are trying to acquire the same skills we are for active reflection with the children on what the characters did and how it worked out for them and so forth.

Practice and coaching when you are not 'in the heat' of the moment allows for you the adult to remain calm presenting the message and also allows for the child to be in a better place to receive the 'coaching' so to speak!

Have an amazing day!
Life Well, Laugh Often, Love Much

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