I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the idea of “giving in.” For almost all of my teaching career, I thought that we shouldn’t give in.
- “Ignore the tears.”
- “Walk away from the tantrum.”
- “Don’t let the yelling work.”
It was always my thinking that if we “gave in,” we were giving children permission to act in these ways. We were saying to them that these options were the preferred ways to respond. While I can see how this thinking could make sense, I’m now finishing the Foundations Courses through The MEHRIT Centre, and I’m starting to view things differently.
- What if the tears, tantrums, and yelling, are the results of extreme stress?
- What if these reactions are a “fight” response?
Should we be asking ourselves “why this child” and “why now,” when the tears, tantrums, and yelling happen, so that we can figure out the underlying causes? Is this when our children need us the most? Is this when they need the hug or the listening ear instead of the walking away?
As the school year comes to an end, and the stress increases — for adults and for children — I think about the behaviour that we might see in our classrooms and around the school. I think about how I’ve responded for years — from walking away to being firm — and I now I wonder if the children’s actions are not “cries for attention,” but “cries of stress” and “cries for help.” How could we support our students when they might need us the most? Are there times when it’s okay to “give in?” I would love to hear your thoughts about this, as I continue to reconsider “giving in.”