Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Conscious Discipline: Principle #4

-By Kimberly Macenko
Did you have a wonderful weekend? I sure hope you were able to spend some time giving your children uninterrupted acts of love through “I love you rituals!” My children and I did a few and we sure had some large laughs. Ask me about the hot dog ritual sometime. It’s a hoot!

The last principle of the chapter is Principle #4:  “Your job is to keep the classroom/home safe so children can learn. The child’s job is to help keep it safe.”

We need to let our children know that it is our job, as parents and teachers, to keep them safe. While doing this we can involve them in the process. How can they help with the process?  Here is one example: explain to children why they need to pick up toys. Have them help you pick things up while explaining that keeping toys off the ground, when we aren’t playing with them, keeps our bodies safe. Stay calm while doing this; always remember that we need to control our own emotions. Keeping control of our anger creates a safe environment for our children.

I am sure you have seen our “safe spaces” at The Little School.”  A safe space help a child feel safe and comforted while they are feeling insecure. As we are working on our composure, our children need to start developing those skills as well. An established “safe space” can help them do that. For infants a safe space can be you. They feel safe and learn to moderate their upset while in your arms. As children get a bit older you can establish a place for them to retreat to when they need to regain their composure. This is a great place for children to be introduced to anger management. Children might need help at first learning to go to their “safe place” but as we witness, at The Little School, children learn to go there when they need it. Children will ask for their blanket or other lovey and go spend some quiet time calming themselves down. Then when they are ready they rejoin the activities they will.

You can help children start to notice when they are becoming agitated. In Becky Bailey’s book, Conscious Discipline, she has a list of some things teachers and parents can look out for in children’s behavior to help notice that a child is becoming upset.  These include:

1. Darting Eyes - Children will look here and there with a high level of intensity, but with little focus.
2. Non Conversational Language - For children who can speak, when it feels like you have to pull teeth to get an answer and all you get is “fine” or “nothing” this is often a sign of emotional upset.  In preverbal children you can see read their emotional state in their body language.  They may clinch fists, hang their head, or pull their head or entire body away from a situation.
3. Busy hands and feet - When children are extremely fidgety this is often a reflection of agitation.
4. Moving in and out of groups - A child that was participating in an activity suddenly leaves the group and pulls away without moving towards something else in which to positively engage.
5. Off and on task - A child goes between multiple activities with very little sustained attention.

You know your children. So look for behavior that starts to become different than usual and help them learn to calm themselves before their frustration takes over. Remember we LEARN anger management. Help them learn it right from the start so that they will have an invaluable a skill-set they will appreciate for a lifetime.

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