Are the Children Pushing Your Buttons?

Are the Children Pushing Your Buttons?

       We all have our “hot buttons” that children push. Take a moment to think about the children’s behaviors that really bother you. For some of us it might be when a child lies. For others it is when a child talks back, whines, rolls her eyes, or doesn’t wipe his nose. We all have our pet peeves – those triggers which set us on edge. And once those buttons are pushed, we often react out of our frustration and anger, rather than think through a more professional response.
       Our Inner Story. Notice how you have an inner voice that runs through your head when a child pushes your buttons. It might sound something like, “What an obnoxious child to talk back to me! How could he do that? His parents haven’t even taught him to behave!” or “How disgusting! I shouldn’t have to put up with this constant runny nose. She’s too old to act like this.” Needless to say, when we have such thoughts, they lead to strong feelings of anger and frustration. It is then very hard to be caring or professional in our own behavior. The worst part is that we all have the tendency to believe this inner “story” is the truth! However, we can change our response by changing the “story” we tell ourselves about the child.
       Instead of this negative internal narration, we can turn this around with more positive, productive thoughts. 
  • First, recognize your strong emotional reaction and label it: “I’m feeling angry about this whining.”
  • Next, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. Force yourself to smile. Recognize that this is an opportunity to develop a better relationship with the child and help him or her learn a new skill.
  • Then tell yourself a new story such as, “She must be very frustrated with the other children. This is a good chance to teach her how to ask for what she wants (or how to tolerate not getting what she wants). This child really needs my help.”
        Reframe Your Thoughts. Of course, you might not believe this new story when you first start to reframe your thoughts. That’s okay. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter if you are not believing your new story – just pretend you do and you’ll be able to think through a better teaching response. Creating a positive story will also help you to stay calm and enjoy your teaching more. Here are some excellent examples of reframing from the Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning.
       Reframing our thoughts to be more positive and professional takes plenty of practice. It is awkward at first, but with practice, it will become more natural and you’ll find yourself having a more positive outlook. And as you start to teach children the little skills they need to replace those annoying behaviors, you’ll have a more effective learning environment for all the children.
       So remember, when you find your buttons being pushed, tell yourself a new story. “This is a good chance for me to _____________”
       Share with us in the comments how you’ve reframed some of the behaviors that push your buttons!

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