Ideas For Teaching Your Child The Right School Behavior?
During a leisurely, informal chat at the end of the term, a student observed that the class had become louder, more boisterous and chaotic than it was at the beginning of the school year. The teacher discussed this with her peers, and it got us thinking- how do we teach the right school behaviour to our children? Do we become more lenient as we get familiar with our children?
Behaviourists talk about the significance of good behaviour in children. People tend to see behaviour as a mirror of a person’s mind. Children's behaviour is usually unpredictable and depends largely on their surroundings or the situations they are exposed to. At school, peers also influence the way each child behaves.
Disruptive behaviour in school is usually seen as a sign of disinterest on the part of the child. This could be because the child is not able to follow instructions in class or is not able to understand a particular topic or lesson. It could also be a cry for attention, and scolding or pointing out that they are not behaving properly gives them the attention they are craving. However, this is not the best way to regulate good behaviour in schools.
This brings us to the pressing question- how do we encourage good behaviour in children? It is not only necessary to teach them the behaviour that is required of them but also to ensure that they follow it through. Here are a few ways to help our children stay well-behaved and understand what we expect of them.
Encourage good behaviour:
While it is easy to point out what a child does incorrectly, that would only make them feel isolated and singled out. This could work in two ways- it could humiliate the child and make them withdraw into a shell, or it could convince them that they are getting attention, making them repeat the bad behaviour. We have found that praising good behaviour has wonderful consequences. When we praise a child for behaving well- finishing work on time, being kind to peers, sharing food, standing in a queue, preparing for a test, and keeping their books neat, others try to do the same.
Drawing attention to good deeds creates a snowball effect. Everyone in the class is ready to do the same for praise from the teacher. We celebrate every success, every good score in-class tests, every time a child obeys a teacher, pays attention in class, answers questions that the teacher asks, and so on. We have noticed that this is far more effective than pointing out bad behaviour.
In addition to this, we set weekly and monthly goals for ourselves. We encourage them by rewarding them for good behaviour. For example, if they read well, they get more points on their literacy program board. The children get an extra free period if the class is well-behaved and the classroom is consistently neat for a week. Rewards go a long way towards making children feel recognised and understand that good behaviour has positive consequences.
You could set up a schedule at home to discuss their day and reward them with their favourite dinner or snack when they get good reports from school. If your child is disruptive or easily distracted, you could praise them for the time they sit quietly or spend on their lessons, encouraging them to do the same at school. You could also talk to older children about what their teachers have communicated regarding school work and behaviour and focus on the positives instead of the negatives.
Tell them why:
This is the question most children ask. Teach them anything, and you hear, ‘Why?’ This does not change even when we talk to them about what we expect of them regarding behaviour. Especially with younger children, explaining the benefits of good behaviour goes a long way.
There was an instance when a child imitated an angry parent and used unsavoury language in the classroom. A perfect replica of a parent venting during a case of road rage, the child, even threateningly gestured toward his friend. The teacher stepped in and corrected the child, saying that his language was not welcome in her classroom.
The immediate response was, ‘Why, my dad said it.’ Justifying a parent’s behaviour is not the solution here, we realised. So, the teacher reasoned that while some people liked to show their anger using gestures and certain words, it was not the right way at school. Shouting at someone, calling them names and using rude gestures or raising one’s voice will only help us create enemies and alienate friends.
While children are sometimes confused because we teach them to behave a certain way, but they see the elders around them behave in a different way, we believe that explaining why certain behaviour is better than others helps them understand how we would like them to behave in school, and when they are at home.
Curiosity is a good thing. Though relentless questions could sometimes be annoying, understand that your child is asking you questions because they genuinely want to know the reasons behind things they see and do. So, when your child does something that is unacceptable, sit them down and tell them why you are angry about what they did or why you are taking away the things they like the most. This is not only to help them understand the consequences of their actions but also to open up a communication channel.
Following what we have taught is as important as teaching it for the first time. Children often are more eloquent while voicing their anger or frustration than when they are grateful. We make it a point to reinforce good habits and behaviour by repeatedly praising good behaviour and prompting the children to emulate the same behaviour whenever possible.
Do talk to your children about the best school behaviour. Encourage them to keep their rooms and study areas clean. Please do not turn a blind eye to them littering on the floor. They repeat the behaviour in school. We teach them to throw paper, pencil shavings and other classroom waste in the dustbin, but if that is not reinforced at home, we have to face the problem of littering in the classroom.
Similarly, when children see adults throwing waste out of a car window and not into a dustbin, we cannot expect them to walk up to a dustbin in the classroom or anywhere else on the school premises. We recommend that you reinforce good behaviour at home, so there is no discrepancy between what we teach at school and how they behave when they are not at school.
Lead by example
When parents visit us, the number-one complaint these days is that the children never read and always want screen time. Though seen as bitter medicine, our advice remains the same- lead by example. When children see their parents and other adults around them glued to a screen, they believe that is the norm. Expecting them to pick up a book while we watch the latest reels on Instagram is quite high-handed. Studies have shown that children whose parents read eventually become voracious readers as they are exposed to the habit of reading from a very young age.
In the same way, when there is something we want our children to emulate, our teachers lead by example. We don’t just teach the children the magic words, please, thank you and sorry; we use them in our classroom daily. Our children are so used to hearing us say thank you when they do something well or help us out that it becomes second nature to them.
Teach them about the consequences
Children like to be given the freedom to make their own choices. They feel wonderful when they do not have to follow instructions blindly, and we love encouraging them to do so. However, good action comes from good thought. Keeping this in mind, we educate them on the consequences of their actions. We do this early so that the children understand that their actions could affect others and themselves.
Just as we would reward a good action, we question children regarding their feelings after making a mistake. A simple question about how they felt when they hurt someone, or how they would feel if someone did the same to them, makes them think. Similarly, talking to them about problems at home- sibling rivalry, punishments, quarrels about TV time, and helping them understand that reduced TV or screen time is a consequence of a fight with a sibling, or an eating tantrum, helps them understand that their behaviour could change for the better if they want to have the privileges they desire.
Teach through real-life scenarios
Disruptive behaviour need not be limited to the classroom. Some children tend to draw on the walls, pull out plants, scratch the furniture, tear pages out of books, and so on. In such situations, it is not just important to talk to them about the adverse effects of their actions, but it is also necessary to make them aware of the importance of keeping things in their place correctly.
A few ways to make that happen is to make them are with videos or tours. You can show them how much effort it takes to paint walls or build furniture using videos, or you could even have a patch of the wall for them to paint with parental consent. They can also tour the library and how books are kept clean and in good condition. The children can also learn how plants are living beings that feel pain when pulled or tearing them. This will help them handle things with care instead of venting their frustration on objects that do not retaliate.
Parents of toddlers usually complain about how the house walls bear the signs of an artistic prodigy growing up there, and no amount of scolding can change them. The easiest way is to show them how hard the painters work to erase all signs of their artistic prowess. Let them watch when painters scrape the paint away and apply fresh layers of paint. Even better, allow them to use the roller to paint a tiny section of the wall, ensuring that they wear protective gear like goggles, masks and gloves. Children tend to be territorial about places they have helped to clear up.
You can also teach them to be kind and empathetic by showing them how much you appreciate it when they help you set the table or help with chores in the house. This makes them more willing to participate in everyday activities in the classroom.
Good behaviour is the result of both parents and teachers working together. We would be glad to interact with the parents and discuss the problems we face with the children. Together, we can find ways to help them to learn good behaviour. Remember that it is important to stay calm, discuss, and arrive at the root cause of the problem. If your child tells you they are bored at school, let us know so we can alter our methods to make learning more stimulating or less complicated for the child.