Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Being authoritative doesnt make you mean!!

Many practitioners worry about how they deal with children's behaviour, but there is no harm in a little authority!!
(I am aiming this post towards Practitioners, but there is a lot of help here for parents too!!)

It is not always easy being a Childcare Practitioner. There are so many rules to remember, so many constant changes in how we are expected to care for other peoples children and this can make it hard for childcare professionals to know where they are from time to time! Behaviour is something which effects all practitioners within their everyday positions. Be it a boisterous child, a screaming child, a child who bites or even a child who enjoys hitting others, there are so many issues which practitioners have to address.

One trouble is, without a little authority, children can run rings around you! When I started in childcare many years ago, I was very young and as a trainee, I wanted the children to like me and I really wanted to be a friend to them. There is nothing wrong with that, it is a perfectly natural response, but I soon found that I was perhaps letting them run rings around me because I was seeing them as "sweet" and lapsing on the rules a little.

As I grew with confidence and began to realise my mistakes, I found that being a little authoritative was actually making the children warm to me more. They began to understand that there were rules to be followed and consequences when they did not follow through with them. These consequences were not obviously very harsh, but sometimes not being able to play with a toy or go outside when a child's behaviour is unacceptable did really hit home.

Authoritativeness does not mean shouting or throwing your weight around. It is a subtle thing that practitioners can carry out........sometimes just a look is needed for children to realise they have done something unacceptable (I am sure many people remember that look from their parents!! I know I do!) So how do we start having an authoritative relationship with a child without scaring them away??

1. The first thing to remember is that warmth and caring is very important. If a child knows that you care, they can find it easier to take any behaviour management from you. Just by spending time with a child, listening to what they have to say and praising their good endeavours, however small, you can really make a difference.

2. Make the rules and boundaries clear. Many settings have rules in which to follow. These rules can be discussed through circle times before sessions begin and reiterated when children fail to follow them. Simply by saying "Do you remember the rule about running inside?" Starts the conversation to allow them to understand where they are going wrong.

3. Make sure your expectations are not too high. If you demand too much of a child, before they are developmentally able to cope with the expectation, this can lead to the unwanted behaviour on a larger scale. Keep your rules and boundaries brief and do not have too many of them. Make sure you explain the behaviour to the child with words they will understand.

4. Set a good example. Children see most adults as authoritative figures because they are the people to learn from. It is great to be down at a child's level and play alongside them, but there needs to be the balance between that and letting them understand that you are in charge as an adult. This can be a tricky thing to do, especially as children love having adult play mates, but it can be done!!

These points really can help to bring a child's respect towards you too. I have found in my experience that my relationships with children were stronger because I had made sure they realised the boundaries and enforced them in a friendly and positive way. This led to respect which I am lucky enough to still experience today. I am in touch with some children  I have looked after over the years and many still do not like it when their parents tell me what their behaviour is like!! I just give the little look at them and they still look sheepish!! Of course, I have had to learn like everyone else. I have been pulled aside for maybe being a bit to stern towards the children and have had to learn from that, but what is important is I didn't let it put me back, and I continued to learn how to manage behaviour in a positive and slightly authoritative manner.

What do you think?

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