Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tuesday SOL: What to do now?

I am participating in the
Tuesday Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

When it happened, I was totally caught off guard. We were visiting a new playground, with many big, long, fun slides. I called for the preschoolers to line up, we needed to head back to school.
She didn't want to leave the playground.
She doesn't have the verbal skills to tell me.
So, she spoke with her body, throwing herself onto the ground, squirming and moaning, refusing.
Everyone else lined up.
Of course, this challenging behavior appears when we weren't at the school playground. No, we were at the faraway playground, near the community center, back across the football field, with many, many, many steps to get back to school.

What to do?

Response #1

I encouraged her,
"Let's go, hon. Yes, those slides were fun. We are going to come back soon. Right now, we need to go in."
"No! No! No!" That's all she could offer. And the tantrum on the ground continued.

Response #1 - Fail.

What to do?

Response #2:

I beckoned her partner to come over, encouraging him, "Tell her that you need her to hold your hand, you need your partner, to walk safely back to school."
Her line partner said, "Here, okay?" and held out his hand. Preschoolers can get their meaning across with very few words! Alas, Little Miss Refusal was still not going to walk, even with an invite from a friend. She ignored the extended hand of her classmate and continued the tantrum on the ground, with another chorus of "No! No! No!" I realized the line partner was now looking at me, with eyes that were a little vulnerable and uncertain, as if to say "wait, is it better to stay and tantrum like this? Should I skip the line up, too?" I asked him to go back to the line, to hold my co-teacher's hand...I dared not have a domino effect, with other preschoolers refusing to budge.

Response #2 - Fail.

The preschoolers begin the procession back to school.
Except for her.

What to do?

Response #3:

"Let's go, little one, time to go back, we'll be the caboose," and I picked her up and carried her, stopping every now and again when my body tired out, re-inviting her to walk with me. Each pause resulted in more of the same challenging behavior -  shouts of "No! No! No!" and throwing herself full throttle onto the ground. Oh my. Is it my imagination, or is she the biggest child in the class? This was heavy lifting! (Of course, she did absolutely nothing to lighten my load, but everything to increase it's difficulty - writhing and wriggling the whole way.)

Response #3 - Success. Imperfect, but we were all headed back to school. Oh well.

Never go head to head with a preschooler.

There is nothing like the stubbornness and determination of a preschooler.

So frustrating, at times.

As I walked, carrying my heavy load, my mind raced through my options, ways to respond better next time, ways to get the desire I wanted - for her to walk on her own two feet.
What was the logical consequence? What made sense right then?
No, there's no point in yelling or throwing a tantrum myself.
We all have to move together, stay together, our entire class.
We're on a schedule.

What was the logical consequence for this challenging behavior? What made sense right then?
It's not like I could leave her on the playground.
Should I have signaled her earlier than the others, given her a heads up?
Did she feel that we didn't have enough time to play?

What was the logical consequence for this challenging behavior? How could I help her see the error of her ways? What made sense right then?
Should I not let her go to the playground next time?
No. I believe children need their outdoor play almost every bit as much as they need food and sleep. Also, we weren't going back to that playground for several days. Would she even remember? Would she make the connection?

What was the logical consequence for this challenging behavior? What made the most sense right then?
Even after all these years of teaching preschoolers, the answer eludes me. 
Sometimes you just make do. 
And give yourself a five minute break, once you return inside. Deep cleansing breaths.

I remind myself, one time is not a pattern.

Count my blessings that she was the ONLY tantrum on the walk back.

I am going to hesitate the next time we head out on that adventure.

On the plus side, this job is keeping me in shape! I have to be able to lift 30-40 lbs at a moment's notice!


  1. What a dilemma! I was hoping you had a great solution, since I will be visiting my granddaughter (almost 3 yr. old) over Christmas and might need some of your wisdom in this kind of a situation. Hope this isn't repeated in the future.

    1. I know! I wish I had a solution, too! Honestly, my best solution has been to take deep cleansing breaths once it is over ;-)

  2. "There is nothing like the stubbornness and determination of a preschooler."
    Truer words were never spoken!

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