Question: We deal with children coming from very challenging backgrounds. How can your skills for inviting cooperation be applied in situations where children fight with each other and swear at teachers. How does the teacher then apply the two choice options. When the action has already happened for example when a child swears that a teacher. I'm guessing it is not a choice of how the child will be punished for swearing but rather how the child should react in future when wanting to sway.
1. The Power Of Choices
This is such a great question as it shows the possible distinction of when to use the choice skill or when to use a more problem solving approach. We use the skill of giving choices when we are in the moment. In other words when we are needing the children to do something right now when we are in the moment we are inviting their cooperation rightnow. So it won’t really be used in any circumstances where you feel punishment is needed. If an action has already happened. Like swearing at you or anything you don’t want. Then explore the skill number two which is sharing what you need instead of what you don’t need. So if a child swears sharing what you need could look like this. We use respectful words even when we are angry with someone. Can you see that this direct your child in what is needed without blaming them. Now how can you say that your tone body language energy intensity will play a huge role in conveying the degree to which you mean what you say yet. Can you convey that boundary of respectful language in a way that conveys you are really serious about this boundary but that you’re not coming across as threatening them or disrespectful to them. We need to find the way for our children to hear us instead of fear us and that this pattern of swearing continues and these in the moment skills just are not enough. Then you will really need to add your skills in setting boundaries.
The Three Ds
- The Detail
- The Delivery
- Your Diligence
They are three core concepts to setting effective and long lasting boundaries. I call them the three Ds to set boundaries. These are the detail and the boundary is your boundary clear and measurable to both you and your child. The delivery of the boundary. Have you shared the boundary with your child in a way that builds clarity and support. Or did you share it as a threat or in anger and the diligence of the boundary when they don’t keep the boundary.
Do you spend your time accusing and threatening them or you spend your time and energy in supporting them to keep the boundary. We have had incredible results in changing these kinds of behaviors by using our models of behavior charts we use them both for children and adults as they are designed to be supportive. Opposed to punitive in that course we cover swearing hitting fireteam and any other behavior changes. But for me when a child is hitting swearing or fighting I see my role as a teacher and parent as one who supports my child in finding alternative ways to express themselves authentically in ways that are still respectful to others even when they’re angry and upset. So in your question above on what to do when a child has already sworn or hit.
Traditionally we go in for the punishment skills. Tradition says that the child needs to be punished for what they have done. But for me I would see my role as supporter instead of Punisher. My questions to those children will be along the lines of So it looks like that there are times when you are really upset and want to let me know that either by using these inappropriate words or letting me know physically and even when you’re feeling so angry or upset like this I still want to know what you may be feeling or what you may be wanting to tell me and for me to be able to understand that we need to find another way of you letting me know that instead of ways that might hurt me or you can you think of another way to tell me those things especially in that moment when you want to swear or hate others.
Now you may find certain children won’t really get that kind of warning at first and that is probably because their world exists in physical contact and harsh language and not in the world of respect and emotional intelligence. But that again is my role to support them in finding alternatives and within a short period of time they get that through you engaging them respectfully. They can still find solutions to what they are feeling upset about and it is useful to remember that this usually takes longer for those children who come from challenging backgrounds as they will be more and trusting that dialogue and respect are possible alternatives to solving these kinds of issues.