As a father of three and a teacher to boot I am well aware of how trying children, of any age, can be. Children are also aware of which buttons to push to get a reaction from adults. We are not saints and we have all lost our temper from time to time with our own kids or in the classroom. If you think back to any of those times, how did you feel afterwards? I know that personally I have regretted every single occasion, few that they may be, that I allowed my temper to get the better of me.
Analytically we can say that the impulse of anger is towards trying to get a child, in this case, to stop doing something. But in reality the moment when you lose your temper is the moment that you have lost. Fear may overtake the child at the time but you have actually lost control of the situation and any advantage that you had as an adult.
Let’s dissect it more: you should be setting an example and by losing your temper you have just set the worst kind. You’ve shown the child that they can push you over the edge and the chances are they will do it again. You have ceased to be causative over the situation and become the effect of whatever they may be doing.
It is, believe it or not, possible to NOT lose your temper. The first thing you need to exercise is self control, the very thing you are trying to instil in the children in your care. At the moment you feel you will lose it then it’s better to say “OK I am going to take a few moments and then I will come back to discuss this with you”. Walk away, calm down, regroup and go back when you are. Decide that you will not, under any circumstances, ‘lose it’ and that’s half the battle to not doing so.
Speak firmly but raise your voice as little as possible. Try to get them into the frame of mind to listen to you, by being persistent in that goal. If there is some infraction which for example has some consequence such as a ‘time out’ then enforce that but only once you are back in control of yourself and the situation. Talking through with the child why what they did isn’t a good idea and how they could have done it better is also good.
You will achieve more by being immovable in your calm and controlled persistence to get the result you want than by shouting and losing your temper. Though it may not seem so at the time they will respect you more for that in the end. You can rule a child by fear or you can get their cooperation by addressing the adult that they are ultimately trying to be. The choice is yours but I think you’ll find the second way more profitable in the long run.
Guest Blog by David Evans Bailey
David Evans Bailey has an MA in Digital Media Art. He taught ICT and Photography at Secondary School level for several years as well as being involved in many theatrical and other endeavours. His background is an IT professional. You can see some of his artwork at www.davidevansbailey.com