HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?
Children are often subjected to an unnatural environment in school where they have to “deal” with bullies and rewire their understanding of normal-how to sit, when they can drink water, when they can use the bathroom, etc. In this post, I wanted to share how our son is having issues with his teacher and how we plan to deal with the problem. Not by making him blindly obey the teacher, but by learning what the real issue is and building his character to face it.
My 5 year old has been having issues at school, his teacher has sent us notes about his tantrums and about him not listening to her instructions. So, the other day, I went to my son’s school to talk to his teacher. I already read her note about my son’s behavior, but it was not very informative. It was the size of a note pad, so not much info could fit in there. I needed details. I went to meet with her with the goal of understanding why the situation started and how we can work around it.
GET MORE INFO ON THE WHY
Note: it is important to speak with your kid’s teacher and work to get that done. I tried to do a walk-in to chat with his teacher one morning when I took my son to class. The office told me I could not do that. I could fit in a few minutes early in the morning and would have to coordinate a time with the teacher. In my case I had to email her and set that up. So I got her email, sent her a short email saying I wanted to know more about her note and learn what happened. I think it helps to keep these letters short. We set up a meeting a couple of days later.
When I met with my son’s teacher she told me how my son behaved and how difficult it was. This went on for a bit, but I kept prodding around and asking, I cannot be content on just hearing how hard it has been to deal with my son. My goal was to find out why it happened and not just hear reactions about it.
After a while I got some useful info on how the routine was in the class. You need to learn to listen and ask questions and wait to hear what you want to learn. I learned how students are grouped and how they do their exercises. I learned how many students there are and how many stations they have to share amongst. By asking more questions, I learned that my son got upset at a particular scenario. There was an activity where kids started in pairs-but on occasion he would start without a partner and would feel left out. They took turns in this activity as to who has a partner and who doesn’t mainly because their groups were composed of 5 kids for the activity. This was the info I was trying to get at, because this lets me understand what I need to focus on teaching my son.
After learning this, our chat continued a bit more and we shared some tips on how to deal with it, and we both agreed to work on improving the situation from our separate ends. I think it is important to express that we both will be helping to provide the solution instead of just blaming the other.
TEACHING HIM HOW TO DEAL WITH BEING LEFT OUT
My son is okay with playing by himself or with a group. However, he has not had a lot of situations where he is forced to be alone. When playing in groups he can blend in if he wants to, but with the class situation he is having, he is forced to not integrate. He is forced to be by himself when he wants to be with a partner. I am not sure yet if maybe he does not like being left out, or if just wants to interact and he is in a situation where the rules say he cannot.
I will need to do figure this out but for now I have a small exercise I was plotting so I can make my son understand being left out.
This scenario needs to single him out, make him aware that THAT is what is happening, make him familiar with it and learn how to deal wit hit.
A simulation would be great for this. We would simulate that scenario, I will tell him upfront that it is a scenario and he will be left out. (This works for us only because my son is a bit too emotional, and for this to work I feel I need him to see ahead first)
SIMULATE SIMULATE SIMULATE
This has to be repeatable so he can see it from multiple angles and hopefully understand it better.
It also has to be entertaining enough that he will bear with me throught the exercise.
My activity of choice was a small game using his toys. This is his comfort zone and these are his toys. We will have 2 sides fighting in this battle and we will have equal amounts of toy soldiers.
To simulate being left out, there will be an alliance in this game-and he will be ganged up on. I figured we will take turns having an ally (probably mom) with their weapon of choice. I am still mocking up the scene in my mind, but it should be possible to win or lose if you have an ally or if you are standing alone. This is where having the simulation repeatable will be very useful. In a short span of time, I should be able to get him thru different outcomes so that he can compare and remember them better. I do not need this to have shock value to have an effect on his mind, he just has to remember the different versions of it.
The emphasis on this mini-war game will be having fun whether you have an ally or not.
From here, I will need to plot out how to do a similar activity with a smaller group. Not sure when this will happen yet, but I will post an update when the opportunity comes. I think for now this will be a good basic exercise so I can better understand which of 2 possible issues he is having:
- Does he not like being left out
- Or does he just not like being forced to not interact
Based on the simulation and what I hope to understand, I will make some tweaks as needed. Because of the simplicity of my scenario I am running the risk of him being fine with the situation regardless. After all, whether he wins or loses he is still having fun playing with me and mom. Even now I wish I could mock this up with 2 other friends of his so they all take turns getting allies. I guess for now this mini version will have to do and will serve me as a good start.
I want to learn what the issue is-as I mentioned above. In the meantime, this exercise will at least address one of the possible issues (being left out). With this little game I hope he will learn a few things:
-being left on your own is temporary
-it is still fun and normal. People take turns at it
-learn to have fun and be comfortable even when left out
-learn to function (in this case, to just have fun) even when not on equal footing with others
-learn to have fun whether you win or lose
Hopefully this gets us a step closer to building my son’s character. As we get results on this simulation I will post an update on any noticeable improvements.
MakeResilient aims to help build more resilient families. I believe that we need to be ready for big changes coming to our current lifestyles (more info at the Concerns page). I am intentionally leading my family so that we can adapt slowly over time for the changing future.