I have learned to be patient and consistent with children. Doing so isn't an easy task by any means! Children are all different and individual. What works for one child doesn't necessarily work for another.
Take, for instance, a child I had last year. Let's call him little Billy. Every time little Billy was confronted with a problem, whether it was with another child, a work, or the teacher, he would run into the bathroom, frustrated, and hide. Little Billy needed to find a way to express his frustrations with words.
I would "bump heads" with this child time and time again, until I figured it out that he's not like other children and I needed to approach him differently when he was feeling upset.
Little Billy didn't vocalize what the other person was doing that made him upset. When I would step in and give him a consequence on something when he was inappropriate, little Billy would bury himself in that bathroom corner crying. After mom or dad dropped him off in the morning he was clearly upset. Whenever I tried to console him he screamed and pushed me away. I figured out, after some time, that I couldn't approach this child when he was frustrated like this. At that moment, this child wouldn't listen to me and would only shut me out.
I have to be honest, I was beside myself and knew there must be a way to get into this child's head in order for him to listen to my words and know that I was there to help him. In other words, I felt his frustration with situations and I knew I needed to somehow "reach him."
I tried something, I gave him his "space" when he came into the classroom. It seemed that he needed to come into the room on his own terms when he felt ready to do so then he could be a part of the room. I told little Billy that when he was ready to put his lunch away and join us that I would be available for him... and believe it or not, that seemed to work. I would walk by from time to time when he was sitting by the door after the parent dropped him off and smile just to let him know, I meant what I said. After allowing him to have a little power of his own to control, he eased into the classroom in the mornings after mom or dad dropped him off, on his own time table.
As for the frustration with other children and his frustration with me at times, I asked him if he would please use his words. I constantly told him when he became upset that Ms. Tina and the other children didn't understand why he was upset and if we heard his words then we could do something about it. He tried at times and sometimes he went back to "old ways," but when he did go back to the "old ways," I reminded him about using his words and how he felt. It seemed to work, and today little Billy is a joy to be around. I know the feeling is mutual because I see him smile at me and hug me many times throughout the day. He even draws me little pictures and comes up to my ear at times and whispers in my ear how he feels. Today, after many tears later, he voices his opinion when he doesn't like something, when something bothers him. To me, he has turned around 180 degrees and has become a happy little boy whereas before it seemed he was trapped and didn't know how to let the angry, sad feelings out. He is my apple, and I look forward to seeing him every day!
Welcome to Montessori Moments, a blog written for Dynamite Montessori School in Cave Creek, Arizona. If you'd like to check out our school, please visit Dynamite's website.