Several mums have asked me on handling behavioural issues, so this post sums up the ways that work best for us. (Yup, no screaming needed.)
Correcting behaviour is essential for creating productive learning sessions. Especially for young children, this is so important that I could spend as long as needed to nip issues in the bud.
And with multiple children either in school or at home, one negative behaviour that is allowed to grow out of control will affect the other children.
Dr. Maria Montessori believes in giving children freedom within a boundary. Setting rules and correcting behaviour help to show the child the boundary clearly. Now that my children are 2, 4 and 6.5 years old, I can see that this method works well.
Q. How do you get your child to practice during the intended time?
For us, we have a daily schedule. And I set a series of alarms in my handphones to prepare for transition:
I set 5 minutes before the intended time, to allow time for transition.
e.g. 4.50pm: *alarm rings* I look at my phone and says “music practice time”.
For the next 1 hour, we’d only do music practice. Nothing else.
If the child drags the practice session, I’d remind him that if we exceed the required time to reach our target, it’d eat into the 10-min screen time and play-time (which are the next items on schedule).
Our home practice / learning sessions are between breakfast and lunch time. If the older kids are late, then I’d remind them that this would eat into story-time, which they love and happens straight after lunch.
- 6pm: “free play time”
- 6.55pm: “shower time”
- 7.25pm: “dinner time”
After a week or so, the older two kids know the flow well. Even the littlest would say “alarm rings” and get ready to transit.
With a schedule, there’s nothing to argue. Just follow… or eat into the next item, which eventually eats into story / screen / play / outdoor time, which the kids love.
This schedule is different from a typical school timetable because I do not dictate what the child should learn during the 3-hour block of home learning session. He is free to choose his work, while not doing any work isn’t allowed.
Q. Do your children cry out of tantrum?
Someone is bound to do that every day, considering I have 3 little kids. Sometimes all of them take turns to do that!
Q. How do you normally pacify them?
Throwing tantrum: check the root cause.
If the child is hungry, unwell or had insufficient sleep: handle the root cause lovingly. The child really can’t control it.
If it isn’t the above and is out of a behavioural issue, then I ask him to breathe and calm down before we talk again.
I’d try guiding him to do his relaxation and deep breathing exercise. Little El was able to breathe deeply on cue at about 1 year old, so I believe children are able to do this if they’re taught from young.)
I tell him I cannot understand whining and very high-pitched sounds.
“Please talk in your normal voice (or bass clef voice) so that mummy can understand.”
“When you’re calm, then we’ll discuss.”
Q. Do you have any naughty corner at home?
I don’t use the word “naughty”.
I learnt from the Montessori method that we can set up a “peace corner”.
Instead of a peace corner, I just ask the child to go to the reading corner or his bed to calm down and breathe.
If he can’t choose, I’d bring / carry him there.
Calm down then we discuss again.
I don’t say the word “punishment” too. Sending the child to the corner is out of necessity to calm the child down or to separate him from the group, especially when he hits someone or throws something.
At our home, it’s usually one mum against three little boys, so I need to be very firm in correcting behaviour.
I may also play relaxation music.
Q. If yes, how long would you make them stand for reflection?
When sent to calm down, my child can sit, lie, stand, or use whatever posture is comfortable.
The main aim is to breathe properly and calm down again.
So he’d be there as long as it takes for him to calm down. If I’m not busy watching the other kids, I could join him too.
Q. How do you initiate conversation with them after the punishment?
Again, this isn’t a punishment. After he calms down, we simply discuss his previous behaviour.
– What he did wrong / which rule he broke
– what he should have done / what he shouldn’t have done
– reasons, consequences
– ask him to repeat in his own words. May prompt by asking “If XXX, what should you do?”
Q. Do you punish your children for their misbehavior? How do you normally do it?
As mentioned above: generally send the child to calm down then discuss.
If he take a long time to calm down, then the schedule gets disrupted.
Perhaps eat into play time, or he has to go for dinner or bed straight away.
That’s a natural consequence of breaking rule, needing correction and “wasting” time.
I’d remind them that this is what happens if they go berserk and need me to correct their behaviour.
“Oh dear, there would be no more time for XXX… If you want more time for XXX, please calm down, watch your body / hands / speech.”
Generally, I reserve screaming for situations when the child is in danger (e.g. trying to jump off a high cupboard), I’m not near enough and I need to stop his action immediately. Otherwise, I use “natural consequences” while ensuring proximity and eye contact when talking to the child.
All the best in handling your kids!
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