Pause before you speak.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Count to ten”, but this is great advice for many situations.  Of course, when you’re upset, pausing gives you time to gather yourself together.  However, use a pause before you’re about to answer a question.  Are you giving too much information?  Could you ask another question to further learning?  Is there a simple, direct way to answer?

Personally, I need to pause before I speak with parents.  I have a tendency to want to blurt things out, so this gives me a moment to try to say things in a professional manner. 

Take a moment.  You’ll be glad you did.

It’s not what you say….

But how you say it.  Think about the phase “Sit down”.  Think about saying it in the following voices: Angry, tired, frustrated, forceful, weakly, welcomingly, excitedly, calmly….you can see what I’m aiming at.  Think about the many people you interact with during the day.  What would they say about how you speak to them?  What would you like parents to say about you?  How would you like your staff to speak about you?  How do your children want to be spoken to? 

There will be many times when you will have do approach parents about some important issue – their child’s behavior, a schedule conflict, papers that are due in the office.  Be pleasant when you say it!  If you have to answer a phone – smile!  People will hear it in your voice!

You might be the only person in some person’s day who says ‘Good morning’ to them and gives them a smile.  “A cheerful look gives joy to the heart.” – Proverbs 15:30a

The magic words – Thank you.

Say “Thank you” often.

When children do something you’ve asked them, thank them.  When children apologize to a friend, thank them.  When you see them doing something right, thank them.  Thank them often, and be sincere.

I’m not fond of the idea of giving children a treat for doing the right thing.  In our classroom, everyone helps pick up because that’s how we take care of our room.  We apologize to friends because that’s how we treat our friends.  We do nice things for others because it makes them, and us, feel good.  Thanks, guys.

SuperNanny

I love that show!  It is very affirming to me to see this lady (who is paid handsomely, I’m sure) say all the things that we do here. 

* Give children routines.  That is their safety net – they know what is expected and when to expect it.  Write/Draw it out so little ones can see it.

* Get down on their level.  Don’t tower over them, sit or kneel so you can have an eye-to-eye conversation.  (We talk often about how you need to look in the eyes of the person you’re talking to – that’s how you have a conversation.)

* Be realistic in your expectations and consequences, and follow through.  This would be a place where I could write pages and pages of the things I’ve done wrong.   That will be a different post about ‘Don’t make threats, and don’t make consequences that you can’t follow through with.)

Watch the show sometime – it is worth it!

Frontal Lobe!

Our staff has been to many in-services and conferences that deal with how the brain works.  One that was so interesting was that when people are dealing with heavy emotions – anger, fear, frustration – the part of the brain that responds is the brain stem – the ‘animal’ part of the brain.  (‘Fight or Flight Response’)  The frontal lobe is where more mature, rational responses are formed. 

Interacting with young children can be very, very stressful at time, and one of the hardest things to master is to be the adult.  When children are throwing a tantrum, stay out of your brain stem!  Reach your frontal lobe!  Take a deep breath, mentally take a step back, and be rational.  This will take years to master, but it’s worth it.  (It’s not that you don’t get angry or upset – I am angry and upset daily – it just means that the way you respond to the child is in a calm, respectful, authoritive manner that isn’t flying off the handle, mean, or belittling.)