Kylie S., Australia
I’d like to know if you have any standard policies and strategies regarding uncooperative young children.
I am dealing with a 5 year old boy who is very un-cooperative. He is in a class with another 5 year old boy. If I give him an instruction, he will often ignore it, for example, he flops around the room rather than watching the other boy play, he will sometimes play out of turn (like over the top of me speaking) etc., and is generally just uncooperative and creates a lot of work for his mother who tries unsuccessfully to cajole him into doing what’s been asked. And the worse bit is, the other young lad tends to follow suit and thinks it’s hilarious. Furthermore, he’s only had two lessons!
Perhaps I’m being “tested” and he’s trying to find his boundary. It just feels like a hopeless situation, but I’d really love to have some very clear strategies in place to deal with an “uncooperative” child. As far as I know (and the mum knows) he has no developmental problems.
Senya B., California
In direct response to one student in my studio I was also forced to come up with a plan. I wanted it to be different than studio policy, and so there are written instructions, that I handed out to parents.
I posted this in my studio. I gave my speech regarding – time is valuable in class, and that I do not want to take time reprimanding and correcting behavior, as the other students parents are not paying for that. They are paying for a piano lesson. This went over big with the parents who’s children are well behaved, as they know. There is a plan.
Additionally, I require shape up or ship out. Out of respect for other students. Sounds harsh, but I have not had to yellow card since this was posted.
In my studio I will redirect 2x, after the second is the yellow card. Then the RED. The red is excused for the day with parent telephone conference.
2 red cards is private lessons required, my privates are $50.00 per lesson. So, needless to say. Parents take this seriously.
Like I said the students sit a little taller if I redirect, because they don’t want a yellow or red card. By the way! I’m sure if you like soccer you will noticed where I borrowed this from!
I’m sure I will build on this later but I like the idea that is is general, because we all know what good vs bad behavior looks like. So the “up for interpretation” is partially what may put the fear in the parents too.
I look forward to my classes, as there are no uncooperative students in my studio!
In response to what I meant by:
Question 1. Redirecting the student
Redirecting a student for me = gently draw student back to active participation and paying attention. I do this in a very clear and forward way.
- “Rogan I need you to pay attention to what I am teaching you so that you can enjoy playing this song, Otherwise you will be lost”. If you don’t, you’re on your way to a yellow card.
- Rogan can you repeat what I just said? And then can you play the 1st sentence for us? If he can’t then I will say, “Ok I will say this one more time, but I need you to listen. If you don’t, you’re on your way to a yellow card.
This way the student and parent know that I have made a direct request for attention. This always works for me.
Question 2. If you don’t have any room left for privates or don’t offer privates.
I actually have a waiting list for privates because right now my studio is full. So I explain that if they don’t follow the code of conduct and the student does get to “2 red card status”. They will be placed on the waiting list for privates with no guarantee of being placed soon.
Additionally, most don’t want to pay my private rate. So it’s a nice way of putting the ball in their court.
Now that my code of conduct is set in place, this parent has become vigilant and engaged. So I have never had to yellow or red card anyone. It feels good to have a plan, and the other parents are thankful. I am confident that I have earned more respect from my entire studio, with this code of conduct. So I am proud of it 😉
Kerry V., AU
Don’t have mum in the class room.
Mum takes him out when he messes up until he is quiet.
do some kind of meditation or quiet activity before you start
Ask mum if he has eaten food colored foods, additives and sugar.
You find out what is happening at home. Is he happy, misses his dad??
And ask yourself the question, why you would want to continue having him? If it is for financial reasons, then say goodbye you are not a counseling agency. If it is to support the child in a positive experience you need to follow up on any angle as possible that may be triggering these behaviors. If it is because you want to ‘safe’ the child, say goodbye. Any questions you come up with and then the answer will be there.
Joanne D., Australia
I’m not sure what language you are using when dealing with this child so you might have tried this …
I would offer the child 2 choices – that he can choose to join in or choose not to (in which case depending on what you require he would have to sit quietly or be taken out by his Mum). Giving him the power to choose may help.
I would definitely give the group some clear guidelines of what you require and perhaps remind them at the beginning of each class. Lots of positive reinforcement when a child is doing the right thing can help too. So if the other boy is listening or following directions you can affirm him and this could also encourage the other boy.
I have a small group of Kindermusik boys who are 4.5 yrs – 2 weeks ago one of them spent almost the entire lesson on the floor laying down. I invited him to join in several times during the lesson which he declined and then the next week came in and fully participated. Perhaps your restless boy is trying to get comfortable with the new routine of your PAS class.
Patti P., Hawaii
I think Joanne has a great tip here. I learned this from a wise friend of mine. She very calmly instructs the child that she needs him to sit with his mother until he feels ready to participate. She just lets him know that as soon as he feels ready, he is welcome to rejoin the class. She does not continually invite him to rejoin, but waits for him to be ready. Students almost invariably calm down in a few minutes, and by sitting in the chair, they are not totally missing out on what happens in class. Of course if they are still disruptive, then the parent is asked to take them out until they are ready to participate.
If this is all done calmly and kindly, the children usually get the idea that they are getting left out and they don’t want that.