I was having a chat with a new teacher recently who has been having trouble with some kids in his class.
He was telling me that in every group that he works with there’s always one or two that cause him a lot of problems. He said it is a similar pattern repeated over and over with these kids.
Nothing Seems To Work
He also said that nothing he tries really seems to work.
He gives them a talking to
he explains why it’s wrong
he gives them three strikes and then removes privileges
he separates them from other kids
and denies them recess.
He said no matter how many times he does these things nothing ever changes.
They just come back the next day and act the exact same way.
He feels very frustrated and doesn’t know what else to try.
He came over to me because he heard me talking to someone else about parenting and wanted to know if I had any ideas for him.
A Constant Disruption
He had one kid in particular who was driving him crazy at the moment. This kid was constantly asking him questions. Questioning everything that he did. These questions were becoming so disruptive that he could not teach the class. It felt to him that this kid was getting energy from the disruption. In other words he was doing it on purpose.
I gave him a few suggestions, but they all centered around the same theme.
Give Love and Acceptance
This kid and all kids who behave in these ways are doing so from a place of pain.
I know that to many people it seems like they are rude and disrespectful or trying to control,
but in fact underneath those surface level motivations
they are really seeking love and acceptance.
Therefore denying them love and acceptance is certainly not the way to alter their behaviour.
This seems very clear to me, but often is mysterious too many people.
I suggested that he take this kid aside and tell him how much he loves his questions. Tell him he admires his curious and intelligent nature. That when he asks these questions he sees so much brightness in him and thinks that his curiosity will make him very very successful.
Actually ask the young man to ask as many questions as he possibly can because you enjoy it so much.
When I suggested this his eyes pretty much bulged out of his head!
He said “Oh my God if I do that what will happen?”
I said to him “You do realize nothing you are doing right now is working?”
He said “Oh yeah.”
It’s Easy To Forget Your Present Reality
Then as I went on and explained a bit further again he said “Is that really going to work?”
Implying that he wasn’t sure it made sense to abandon his presence strategy
for this extremely alternative way of dealing with this kid.
I reminded him again that nothing he was doing was working and the behaviour wasn’t changing.
He said again “Oh yeah.”
Each time he was confronted with this new way of thinking his initial response was to resist it
and he wanted to continue with his present strategy.
It was like he kept forgetting the fact that his strategies weren’t working.
I found this tremendously fascinating and honestly could barely believe my eyes.
This young man is extremely smart, driven and has a really good heart.
And yet with all of those great qualities he still kept forgetting.
He Wasn’t Actually Resisting Me
He really seemed to like the ideas I was sharing with him
and when he thought about it could see the merit in them.
And yet he kept forgetting.
Knowing what I do about self-development I recognize that the reason I had such a reaction to his constant forgetting was that it resonated with something in myself.
If I reacted to his forgetting that his present method of dealing with his obstacle wasn’t working
I know that I must be doing this in many areas of my life. It means I am not being as open to a new way of looking at things.
Where Do I Resist The New?
Vivek, where are you resisting something new?
Even knowing that the old way isn’t working for you,
you still want to cling on to it.
I think this is something very deep for me to explore because clearly it will inhibit my growth.
I think it is worthwhile to develop a mindset of continual evaluation of the way I do things.
Also to challenge the way I think about things.
It doesn’t mean everything I think is wrong,
it means it is useful to always be open to new ideas.
And part being open to the new is being willing to let go of the old, long held ideas.