Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Issues With Independence


Clare
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm having a few issues with a child at pre-school at the moment who, up until recently was quite independent, although sometimes (not often) needed a bit of prompting to do things, namely putting on her own shoes and coat.

 

Now, we are at a point where she refuses point blank to do anything for herself. She sits on the floor and sulks if you ask her to put her shoes on, or when getting ready to go outside, she will stand by the table, holding her scarf and coat until somebody asks her to put it on. She can do it and used to be very pleased with herself when she did. When she is asked to do these things now, she throws her things on the floor and starts sulking. Today we have had tantrums and tears until an adult approaches her and just does it for her.

 

When she is not tantrumming and crying, she shouts at staff members who ask her to do simple things, she stamps her feet and is generally very bad tempered. I am at a loss as to what strategies we can use with her now. We have tried positive praise, stickers, celebrating her achievements with mum in a really big way but now, none of these strategies seem to be working.

 

Part of me feels as though she should be left to try these things for herself because she can clearly do them, the other part of me feels as though she obviously needs a bit of adult support at the moment, but to be honest, I can't decide whether it is her testing the boundaries or whether there is a genuine problem.

 

Spoke to mum today as her behaviour so awfully out of character. When mum came to collect her, she refused to leave the carpet, so mum had to come in and physically carry her out of pre-school which is not something I've seen her do before. Mum was quite cross that we had had to speak to her (as in cross with the child, rather than us) and mentioned that she had been in a 'funny mood' this morning.

 

It seems to be becoming a battle of wills with this child and I'm struggling to find a way to resolve it. Any ideas?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, something in your message stood out to me, which was that she has a tantrum "until an adult comes and does it for her".

 

I'm sorry but to my mind tantrums need one consistent response, and that is to completely ignore them. The minute you intervene and do what she wants, she has learnt that a tantrum gets her her way.

 

There is no harm in comforting and calming her, and just repeating the instruction, "I need you to put those on right now for me." Sometimes when you do the whole sticker thing, that gets you into a position where the child almost expects to earn one for everything and learns how to manipulate adults.

 

A primary head teacher once said something very useful to me about working with children: "Be reasonable, but don't reason with them." If what you have asked is reasonable, there is no need to negotiate.

 

I'm not sure if that helps but that would be my take on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in agreement with suzie about how to deal with a tantrum. I dont. I let the child deal with it. Could you offer her a choice? Put your shoes on or choose a jigsaw, put your coat on or choose a book. I would explain that those are her choices and its up to her, whatever she chooses should be supported and the matter not refered to again. If she chooses wrongly for herself and complains you should tell mom at the end of the session that she was given a choice.

Ya gotta love 'em :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ya gotta love 'em :o

Indeed you do! I agree with everything that has been said - giving two choices is often the way to go because that way you're putting the responsibility back in their hands. Outlining the consequences of not doing something is also helpful - if you don't put on your coat you won't be able to come outside to play, or whatever. So long as there is consistency between staff members (and between home and setting too) and the consequences of the child not complying are manageable and acceptable, then hopefully in the long run the child will get the idea that they are free to make decisions about how to behave/what to do for themselves, but that there are consequences to each behaviour which they will have to live with.

 

Of course children don't always react how we expect them to, but since the child is able to do these things for herself, you don't really want to take a backward step and start doing everything for her again. When she is feeling more positive perhaps you could work with her to find out what has changed - perhaps she's feeling insecure or unhappy about something and this is her way of maintaining control?

 

Good luck - and let us know how things go!

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, thanks for that. I was kind of feeling as though I should be ignoring her tantrumming behaviour, but it is difficult when the children have to go outside. She was refusing today but obviously if everyone else is going out, she can't be left on her own. This is where the battle begins because she knows she can't be left inside alone, so seems to go all out to make going out a real problem.

 

Will try the choice thing and see how that goes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think what you need to do is appear to be unaffected by it. You could allow her to discover the consequences of not putting on her coat and shoes herself. If she really is able to do it and choosing not to then let her know that you're not overly bothered whether she has her coat on - it's her who will be cold.

 

I used this approach recently and it was very effective. You are taking the power away by appearing not to care. It's the same principle as the way you deal with eating problems by not appearing to be bothered if the child eats. It puts the control back with you.

 

I would give her the choice of would you like to put your shoes on or are you coming outside barefoot? It may sounds harsh but she'll put them on PDQ if her feet get cold. Then you should offer tons of praise and say how happy you are that she will feel comfortable now. It's not a punishment, it's letting her learn by her own actions.

 

(Obviously the consequences must be safe!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

all good sound advice... also needed is consistency , all have to have the same expectations and follow through on your decisions...

 

we were lucky in staff ratios allowing us to actually say, 'thats ok you can stay inside' while all others went out... did not take long for them to realise we meant it, and just seeing all the other children going out they often quickly decided to follow through.. no coat was never an issue but we did draw the line at no shoes outside, too many hazards in our outside area, and really did not want to have others all doing it..

 

I do wonder if there is a trigger for this complete change.. has something unsettling happened at home , we found often there was a reason , sounds like she seems to have learnt a way to get attention she wants..

 

Inge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)