Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Power of Negative Thinking

There’s an art to saying “no,” but many of us have yet to master it.  Just look around you at the supermarket checkout, where children battle in earnest over that Juicy Fruit Gum displayed there for just that purpose.  How can you, the teacher, say no when Freddy, who stands on the desks, beats his chest and does high-quality Tarzan yells, asks to go to the bathroom for the 17th time this week?

After all, it’s such a relief to have him out wandering the halls, where he won’t bother you.  Just like you, that parent at the checkout knows the noise stops with a simple purchase of gum.  Unfortunately, the battle continues with every subsequent trip to the supermarket.  Also, kids learn quickly that loud crying gets much-desired results in various other locales.

It’s inconvenient to assert yourself, and almost physically painful the first few times you do it, particularly as you must force yourself to remain calm while other human beings do everything within their power to rattle you.  Still, I’m usually not getting angry while kids act out, but coldly calculating the best way to make them aware that such outbursts will have inconvenient consequences.  With me, they generally include calls home.  Here are some tips on how to do that.

Once you learn to say no, and mean it, your classroom problems will be far fewer.  Another advantage in active naysaying is this:  someday, it will make you a much better parent.
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