Tuesday, May 29, 2012

SOL Humor as Discipline?

A little story that makes me chuckle, for this Slice of Life Tuesday -

Several children were playing in our large cardboard car, having a grand time together.
I heard one call out, "Let's go to California!"

All of a sudden, from the back seat, someone was throwing plastic golf balls across our classroom. 
(We use these balls with our ramps...and, clearly, for more impish behaviors as well.) 
Throwing balls across the classroom is not an okay thing to do in the Big Cats preschool classroom - children get hit unexpectedly, projects get toppled unexpectedly, and the mood in the room changes unexpectedly.

Time to intervene!

I immediately squat down, with my hands on pretend motorcycle handles, and I rev my pretend bike, with  a police siren, too. "Whoooooooo Whooooooo!" my police siren calls out, as I move up alongside the cardboard car.

Leo, Oscar, and Gideon, playing in the car, look at me with total surprise.

I stop alongside the driver's door and say,
"Sir, I need your license and registration.  You are throwing golf balls from your back seat and that is against the law on these highways."

Gideon, in the driver seat, is stunned - 
"But, I'm the father, I didn't do it; it's my baby boys in the back seat, Leo and Oscar did it."

I continue, "Well, sir, as you know, drivers are always responsible for what goes on in their car.  Fathers are responsible for the behavior of their baby boys.  I'm going to have to give you a ticket and a big fine."

Leo and Oscar both get long faces.

Gideon turns to them and says, 
"You need to get out! We're in trouble.  The police says we can't throw balls.  You were doing it."

Oscar says, 
"It wasn't me! It was Leo."

Leo - to my surprise - jumps out of the car and sits down on a chair in the dramatic play center, arms criss-crossed across his chest, huge pout on his face, and asks "I can't play now?" to Gideon.

Gideon says, 
"Well, take a break.  You can come to California, but you can't throw balls."

Leo says, 
"Okay, I won't throw," and climbs back into the back seat.

Kielan looks up with delight and joins in, 
"Hey, I'll be Uncle Doug and sit in the front seat with you!"

and the whole ball throwing incident becomes a distant and one-time-only memory.

Yes, when possible, I like to be humorous in my discipline.  Children respond delightfully!  


  1. This is precious. It does not surprise me that you would find a way to intervene that goes right along with their play. You are such a thoughtful teacher to the process and getting kids to think on their own. Love it!

  2. Your approach with humor is just right, Maureen. I love that the boys responded clearly & wanted to do the 'right' thing, then worked it out. Terrific! My daughter just told me this story yesterday about the 3 year old granddaughter: Ingrid was struggling with being too silly at the dinner table, & the trouble was escalating. My daughter says she said something like 'you cannot act like this at dinner'. Ingrid replies: "I need to sit in the 'calm down' chair" My daughter had not heard this before (clearly from Ingrid's pre-school), so said, sounds like a good idea. It worked. After about 30 seconds in the chair Ingrid had chosen, Ingrid returned to the table & they had a nice dinnertime. Thank goodness for you wonderful preschool teachers who know just how to do things!

  3. Thanks for this glimpse into your teaching. Play is so very powerful and you slid right into the game, teaching and modeling behaviors that are necessary for life.

  4. You are too clever! I love this story because it shows a gentle way of discipline but yet made your point clear.

  5. You are amazing! But I so want to know why throwing golf balls out of a car is part of a trip to California....I'll have to come visit your class some time and ask.

  6. This is delightful in so many ways. Thanks for capturing it so well that I could actually see the events unfolding. If this group continues on...with no more golf ball throwing... they can visit me in California!!

  7. You have a small improv acting class in your classroom. They played right along. I wish you had been my teacher.