DE-escalating a tough situation
When physical needs are met, kids know what comes next, and they communicate with words, one word they might choose to use is "No!" Whether they are at the peak of their emotions, unhappy with the authorities, or simply have their own ideas, the first step to negotiating a resolution is correctly assessing the situation.
Buddings teachers practice non-violent crisis intervention, which means respecting children's autonomy and their right to control their own bodies, while also ensuring that they (and everyone) stay safe!
The integrated environment, wherein teachers' behaviour influences children's behaviour and vice versa, is dynamic. The same things don't work everytime, but some things work much better than others, most of the time.
Avoid arbitrary rules: explain them with safety
Kids want to know why they have to follow the rules. Daycare is different from home, and teachers are not parents. Regardless of our personal "style," licensing dictates the minimum standards of care, including how often kids need to eat, visit the bathroom, and how many kids can participate in the program.
Our insurance forbids us from having a trampoline (!!), and our company policies around wearing shoes inside, and holding hands on walks, are all in place to prevent accidents, or at least, keep them to a minimum.
When children have their own ideas about limits, taking the time to show how it keeps them safe, can help them see the benefits, and build respect for your authority.
Pro tip: Post a sign. If it's written on the wall, it must be true! 😉
Find options that fit the problem
We have to wear shoes inside, because there may be pointy toys on the floor, and if you step on one of them, you could hurt your foot.
If the children are calm enough to understand our explanation, but refuse to comply with the requirement, we have to listen for the reason, so we can find a good solution.
If the inside shoes are wet, or too small, a child's reluctance to put them on is completely understandable. What can we do? (Sometimes, we have to think fast!)
We have spare shoes at daycare that children can choose to wear. Or they can wear their outside shoes (snow boots, too! No problem!). Or, they can sit on the couch, where their feet will be safe.
By offering agency over their own body and life, we show children that their opinions are important to us. We earn their respect by respecting them. And when all the options are acceptable, the choice is theirs!
Safe spaces for big feelings
Through various phases of development, and certainly, as children get older and more aware of their autonomy, they may experiment with different forms (and volumes) of refusal.
If we scream demands at a supermarket clerk, or throw the computer on a bad day at work, there are social consequences. As adults, we have to control our feelings to achieve our goals, and children at daycare can do the same.
While crying may be communication for babies, and important for injuries, screaming or crying for toys, activities, or a different coloured spoon, is not appropriate.
As teachers, it is our job to teach children to achieve their goals in society. This takes time, but we cannot give in to irrational demands, no matter how loudly screamed, even if it would ease the tension. Getting upset, and upsetting everyone else, doesn't change reality. Before we can move forward, children must learn to calm their bodies, and to breathe.
Our centres have nooks and quiet corners where children can collect themselves with a teacher, or on their own. Sometimes, big feelings just need to be expressed. When given options, if children choose to scream or cry, we have a safe spot for that!
When they feel better, or when they decide that they would like to rejoin the group, we are more than ready to welcome them back.