One Monday, I took half a day off to observe my kid in school. I’ve heard he accidentally pulled off a classmate’s earring, and did some other things a typical, importunate toddler would do so I decided to come by and see for myself.
It was a short but meaningful experience especially when I don’t get to see him in school a lot. And after that session, I learned that when kids misbehave, instead of getting angry, adults need to find the heart of the “misbehavior” to help deal with it.
To better understand, SEEK them out.
1. Show compassion
No kid has ever set out planning the day to hurt anyone. When a child misbehaves, it’s not because they deliberately want to be mean to someone. But, more often, they want to be close to or to play with someone.
In the 2 hours that I sat in that class, I saw that kids’ play is more physical – they run around, hop like frogs, hide things, pull clothes, and hug. And they have fun doing those things.
I realized, that in its natural form, these acts are to be seen more as an act of love than a punishment to their peers or to any adult.
Of course, there are exceptions. It would be ideal to teach our kids to behave especially around people.
But the point is, during those times we see them act like, well children, we ought to be more compassionate by being more patient, using gentler words, always being present to remind them to behave, and never condemning them for their actions.
While in my son’s classroom, I saw him wandering around while the rest of the class listened to the teacher. From a spectator’s point of view, it would look like he’s deliberately trying to escape the lesson.
I noticed that he got lost behind the big shelf of books. So I stood up to take a peek at him from behind the shelf. He looked up to me and said “pupu.“
He was literally doing the Number 2 deed! Had I not been there to look for him, he would have stayed there – despite the teacher asking him to come back; and she’d be left thinking he just wandered off out of misbehavior.
What can we get out of this? I learned, that adults may be of help by seeking out any kid to check on his mood, feelings, and more importantly, needs of the moment.
I was able to help my son then – and within minutes, he was back on the table doing the next class activity.
You see, Zach doesn’t always say he needs to go to the bathroom due to a gibberish speech. It is actually this scenario that inspired me to write this blog.
This also serves as a lesson for us every time we reprimand our kids for apparent “misbehavior.” Let’s ask ourselves “What does he need right now?” Maybe, that tantrum was caused by hunger, sleepiness or tiredness.
Seek out their needs and address them ASAP.
3. Engage with them
Zach has a play now, listen later kind of attention. But when the teacher takes the time to really sit down beside him to guide him through a writing or coloring activity, he is all-ears.
Sometimes, kids tend to “misbehave” because they don’t get much of our attention so they, in turn, seek them out from us. I am guilty of this because my time somehow gets distracted by other responsibilities.
One thing I noticed is that when Zach gets preoccupied with something like cutting out magazines (an activity that day in class), he gets to focus on it and forgets to bug his seatmates.
Generally, let’s try to engage with our kids through activities and conversation so that their minds would be somewhere productive and not on something “destructive”. Hehe.
4. Kindly remind them
During my school visit, each time I see my son somehow inconveniencing another classmate, I call out his name to sign “no” or “stop.” To which, he responded to negatively.
But, always, I try to reconnect with him by smiling. Because as I have noticed, he listens more and accepts correction when he knows that I am not mad.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
This also is true for our kids! Talk to them gently, and they’d be listening more.
But being “not mad” is not to be confused with “spoiling” a child. I am a firm believer of “tough love” all because I want him to learn.
Our kids may not remember their offenses but they will always remember how we made them feel. For instance, do we ever remember a time when our own mothers “ditched” us with her amigas? Like, “pinahiya” ka or “nilaglag” ka sa harap ng mga friends niya. Lol.
Most probably, we won’t remember why but we will always remember the feeling when they did that to us.
Kids, in their sensitive age, also tend to remember these kinds of memories or emotions. We, as adults, need to take an extra step in helping all kids have happier memories without sacrificing learning moments.
It was also fortunate that I was there to answer any question that Zach’s classmates had for him. “Ganyan po ba talaga siya?” his classmate asked me when Zach tried to hug another and both almost stumbled to the floor.
“He is just happy to see you,” I said. Which is true!
Zach has always been an energetic ball of a child who finds humor in wrestling his mom and in seeing our bizarre facial reactions to things he does.
When he likes you, he’d hang from your limbs or legs and find humor in your distress as you try to keep your balance, disrupted by his weight. If he knows you, he’d get too excited to hug you, which would cause him to speed through to you like a cannonball aimed at maximum impact.
His love hurts (literally). 🙂 But it doesn’t mean he wants to hurt anyone.
SEEK kids out and hopefully, through our guidance, and God’s, they will grow up to become kind and a blessing to others.