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How Do You Deal With A Child Who Refuses To Do As You Ask?


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We have a child who just turned 3 today. We are a 2 1/2 hour playgroup and this particular child only attends on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The child knows what we are asking and will outright say "no". Today we were coming inside from playing. We have a large Little Tikes climbing frame and this child went into the tunnel and lay in there. He refused to come out no matter what we tried. We did ask him quite a few times but he just stayed in there. My problem was I needed to open the gate to let other mums in and at the same time needed to be inside with the remaining 10 children. How should I have dealt with the situation. The thing was - this was his birthday and we were about to have some birthday cake and juice inside.

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We have a child who just turned 3 today. We are a 2 1/2 hour playgroup and this particular child only attends on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The child knows what we are asking and will outright say "no". Today we were coming inside from playing. We have a large Little Tikes climbing frame and this child went into the tunnel and lay in there. He refused to come out no matter what we tried. We did ask him quite a few times but he just stayed in there. My problem was I needed to open the gate to let other mums in and at the same time needed to be inside with the remaining 10 children. How should I have dealt with the situation. The thing was - this was his birthday and we were about to have some birthday cake and juice inside.

 

I think saying 'no' is something we all have to contend with. I think it is difficult for anyone to tell you what you should have done - even though you describe the situation in detail it's a bit tricky without knowing the child and why he didn't want to come inside at that point in time.

In general terms I wouldn't repeatedly ask a child to do something especially when they are intent in not co-operating with you. I would 'diffuse' the situation and focus on something other than asking him to come out, e.g. asking him to come and help get his cake ready/pour the juice or something. Yes it still requires him to come out of the tunnel but is not a direct request for him to do so. By offering him something of interest you may have found he would have come out of the tunnel, not because you asked or wanted him to but because the 'something' on offer interested him.

I don't quite know the set up of your nursery but could it have been a possibility for the birthday boy to have his cake/juice outside with his friends? He was obviously happy outside and not keen to go indoors. Sometimes an exaggerated 'ohhhh look what i can see' type comment is enough for a child to come and join you. We have one child who cries on arrival and if i say 'oh can you hear a helicopter/ bird singing ?' he stops instantly and goes out to see if he can see one and then happily enjoys the rest of the session.

Not sure this is much help but I really don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this, it's about knowing each child and which strategy works for them - it may be a case of trial and error but have no doubt you will get there.

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Hi

 

Maybe he didn't want you to sing happy birthday to him. I know my son hates it.

Excellent point and I couldn't agree more! We have our 'birthday routine' with singing /birthday hat etc but it is always only if it is what the birthday child wants and often they simply don't want/like it so it isn't done!

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Doesn't always work, but offer choices, I have a little girl who wouldn't come back into the room, and I said to her, 'You do need to come back into the room, so would you like to walk by yourself, or would you like to hold my hand?' She didn't choose right away, so I said again, I need you to choose, and repeated the choices, then said if you can't choose would you like me to choose for you? She said yes, so I said lets hold my hand then, and in she came. She also did the same today for tidying up, so I asked her to choose if she wanted to pick up the red playdough cutters or the blue and she chose a blue, then picked up all the blue and all the others too! It normally happens with her near the end, when she is tired, and I think they say no, then don't know how to back down from it, so choices helps them.

 

HTH!

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Terrydoo,

 

As others have said it's difficult to say what to do when I don't know the child or your setting, however, when we have a change of area which is normally at the end of session so some children may be going home and others will be having lunch, or all going home we always sing a tidy up song.

 

It's quite clear what we want to do, involves clapping, so they have to put things down and generally gets them all doing what we need them to do.

 

If we ever get a child not doing what we ask we generally do a count to three and tell them what we want them to do by the time we get to three and before we count . This covers other situations such as sharing a toy or another piece of equipment such as the slide or trampoline using a timer to take turns. i.e. 'I'm going to count to three and i'd like you to get out of the car so that xxx can have a turn'.

 

Again as gezabel says distraction can help and not actually asking a child to do something but suggesting something else and also that they may not like the birthday routine although we also have one where the other children sing 'Happy Birthday' and the child gets a card and a present and we have never had a child not want to :o We always lead up to that point by mentioning through the morning 'What special day is it?' "who's birthday is it?' 'Who is 3 (or 4) now?' Parents usually bring cakes in to so the child knows it's their day.

 

On a different tack is the 'no' word. I still think that although it is often one of the first words that children say and a word that they may hear often at home, due to our training it's not something that they hear us say, we tend to do the 'tell them what you want them to do' so they don't hear the word no - does that give it more power for them?

 

Rachel

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A couple of other strategies spring to mind.

 

Firstly you could make a point of picking this little boy up on every small thing he does right and heap praise on him. That way he doesn't use saying no to gain attention.

 

Secondly, when you are about to ask the group to do something, say 'Ok, time for us to xxxxx. Who would like to xxxxx'. That way he might focus on competing to be picked to do the job and forget that he intended to say no.

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Guest terrydoo73

Thanks for your replies. We had an awful day today with several of our children and one which took us over an hour just to destress and talk through as staff members - essential I think to show each of us we are all in this together!

 

All you have said is what we should have done but sad to say we didn't - a case of definately counting to 10 and thinking next time! I hang my head in shame as a result of today and know myself I am not worthy to be called a playgroup worker.

 

I need to explain that this child has a severely disabled brother at home aged 11 and one of the reasons mum wants this child in Playgroup is to help him develop with his own age group. He is a big boy for 3 years of age and at present a lot of our children are scared of him.

 

In our reflection today we became aware of all our focus being on him too much and not on the rest of the group. A couple of our children have picked up on this and are pushing the boundaries to get our attention ie away from him and onto them.

 

 

As mentioned in another posting we have another one who is not settling with us and insists mum/granny/nana/auntie stay with her every day and we were trying to get these people to leave for a short period of time during our outdoor play time - theory being it is easier to listen to crying outside in the open rather than in a confined space as it frightens the other children. Needless to say these 3 issues were going on all at the same time - one refusing to come out of the tunnel, one crying for mummy to come back and the third trying to gain attention away from the first child! It was extremely distressing to say the least. We decided to ring the mum of the child who was crying and talk about how they are approaching the child coming to playgroup ie are they talking to them about coming and how they will have to leave them. We believe this is where the problem lies because the child will not let mum out of their sight knowing that this might happen at any moment. We are going to try and catch her off guard tomorrow and not let mum leave at all so as to reassure her to come back to playgroup safe and content! I am trying to contact the parent of the other child, the one whom this topic is about who refuses to do as we say. We suspect that this is a tactic he uses at home - he disappears and hides when he knows he has done something wrong or does not want to do something. So we need to know how mum deals with it and if we can work together to deal with it if possible.

 

Now I am away to write down all your suggestions on a piece of paper and keep it in my pocket to refer to it tomorrow so that I might learn to keep my cool! Thank you once again - couldn't do my job without you lot!

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We do the same as Clare with the choices. It made me smile as I could imagine my deputy saying those exact words!

We also use timers. We have really big 1, 3 and 5 minute timers. We have one little boy who goes to pieces as tidy up time, even if we have given him a warning. We found that the visual warning has stopped it completely. So we say when the timer has finished you need to put those away OK? And he doesn't even usually need prompting to do so when it finishes.

Today a child refused to join in at group time. We are a largely child-led free play setting but we have a group time during the session which is an adult led activity and this child decided to have a difficult day! The adult said it was fine for him not to join in the game but he had to sit at the table with the group, which he did. Then when it was his turn he refused to roll the die so she said are you going to roll the dice or shall I? No reply. OK I will - oooooh a 4! Can you find a card with 4 spots? No reply. Hmmm is it this one or this one? No reply. I think it's this one, let's count... 1,2,3 and in he chimed with 4 and grabbed the card! From then on he joined in!

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I hang my head in shame as a result of today and know myself I am not worthy to be called a playgroup worker.

Hang on a minute here. I can't let this pass without comment!

 

Please don't be so hard on yourself. There are very few people on here who lay themselves open to as much (hopefully constructive!) criticism as you do in your quest to be the best playgroup leader you can possibly be. None of us gets it right all the time, and it is very easy for us to come on here, look at your dilemmas and give you our views of what you can do. It isn't so easy when you have to react on the spot and inevitably sometimes you'll make the wrong choices.

 

But you'll learn from them and resolve to do better so that you can more effectively meet children's needs. I think that is what makes all the difference: that continual striving to be better and to do better. Keep plugging on, keep reflecting and you will get there.

 

Also, remember to celebrate your successes and keep giving yourself credit for what is going well! It isn't all doom and gloom but it can be easy to lose sight of the positives when you're in the throes of a crisis.

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I just wanted to add that we all have crappy days and on reflection I suspect that if we really think honestly, all of us can think of many occassions (even daily ones) where we have not handled things as best we could....we're all human...give yourself a break here!

Working with young children and families is very rewarding, but very very trying......you must not aspire to be a saint, just do the best you can.

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Definately agree..............sainthood isn't all it's cracked up to be( just think of all that extra time needed for halo polishing!.)

We ALL do things from time to time that, on reflection we might have done differently, or better. Perhaps this little boy just enjoys having a bit of 'control' in his life at times? If his brother is severely disabled, perhaps a great deal of attention is focused on him and not so much on this little one, or maybe he is expected to behave in particular ways because of this? You might be the one area of his life where he IS able to say 'no'? Today is a new day, take a deep breath and start again xx

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Hi

 

I wanted to reply and say don't be so hard on yourself.

 

It is so easy after the event, especially when there is so much other stuff going on

 

My sons reception teacher (Son is now 21) once said to me, that at the end of a bad day you only remember the bad stuff, which could only have lasted ten minutes. Focus on the good stuff that happened yesterday, and every day and all the worthwhile stuff you do for the children.

 

It has worked for me over the years

 

Hope today is a better day

 

Glen x

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Oh Terrydoo you HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to hang your head in shame. I know very few early years practitoners that are as dedicated as you. PLEASE don't beat yourself up about things. It's still early in the new term and things will settle down. The children are lucky to have you. Hold your head up high and believe in yourself. Keep posting and we will support you in any way we can. Hope today is a better day :o

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I just want to echo previous comments.

 

You are a really reflective practitioner, you learn from the times when things don't go how you feel they should. You ask for advice, take it on board and try it out.

 

Your practice will always keep changing and improving because you are willing to question yourself. That alone makes you very worthy of your title.

 

I hope you have a better day today.

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I just want to echo previous comments.

 

You are a really reflective practitioner, you learn from the times when things don't go how you feel they should. You ask for advice, take it on board and try it out.

 

Your practice will always keep changing and improving because you are willing to question yourself. That alone makes you very worthy of your title.

 

I hope you have a better day today.

 

 

Please don't beat yourself up, we all have bad days and don't deal with things how we should xx

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Guest terrydoo73

Thank you so much for your support - it really means a lot and I appreciate all your comments.

 

Today was not so bad. I talked to the little boys dad today and he basically said the child is headstrong and does get his own way a lot of the time. I think having him when he has turned 3 has given us so many opportunities to work on him and he hopefully will learn something while he is with us! I reflected very much on all the positives with him today. I tried the holding hands and that worked a time or two. I tried the praise and that worked too. It just takes a lot of work on a one to one level I think. Another positive thing today was that our oldest child a girl who has already turned 4 played with him during outside play time which I was so pleased to see as I had this impression that the children were scared of him. My deputy had him during snack time and he did try the technique of standing up in the middle of eating (he hadn't finished), she asked him to sit down and then ignored him when he didn't. The little boy eventually did sit down without any more constant nagging so ignoring sometimes works too! I also used the distraction method when he was waiting for snack - he was determined to be out first although he wasn't due out until the first 4 had had theirs. I brought out a craft activity and threw it around the room "who wants to help me with ..." He immediately came over, sat down and listened to what I was saying and followed it. So all your techniques really worked - thank you!

 

We had a problem with the other child who was attention seeking yesterday with the result he got hit yesterday. Today he was in a real strop throwing things all around him and generally causing mayhem. When his granny came to collect him he refused to go with her asking for mummy to come and get him - it was really difficult to work out what to do. I could see my Deputy getting really stressed as she focused in on him.

 

I cannot say how much I really appreciate this forum. I guess I am being reflective all the time - already we are starting to think about next week and what distraction methods we could use along the lines of leaf rubbing, painting leaves, using pine cones in our small world etc. I know my strengths are really in administration and spend a lot of time working on grant applications, possible fundraisers and publicity to raise awareness of the existence of our Playgroup. We haven't been able to secure Government funding as yet and it is disappointing to say the least - our Group has purchased an old school and we hope to move into it next autumn but with the threat of securing future funding it leaves our jobs open to be terminated and quite quickly.

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So pleased.

 

It's not always easy to sustain all the positive strategies at first so you need to make sure that the rest of your team is using them too and you're all supporting each other. It does get easier as it becomes second nature and hopefully you'll all keep reflecting and coming up with new ways to encourage, engage and inspire the children.

 

Do keep letting us know how you're getting on.

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I know my strengths are really in administration and spend a lot of time working on grant applications, possible fundraisers and publicity to raise awareness of the existence of our Playgroup.

 

I'm sorry Terrydoo but I'm going to have to disagree with you there! I know I don't know you but it's pretty obvious from your posts on here that your strength is self-evaluation and improvement. If everyone working with children analysed their own behaviour as much as you do the world would be a much better place! Some people are so focussed on their problems that they don't stop to think about the solutions. And as we all know this forum is a brilliant place to find solutions! :o

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Guest terrydoo73

This same child returned to us today with a broken arm (see other posting) and my Deputy really got up my ... needless to say it was a real whining session with her. I had to explain to her that on advice from dad no water, no sand and probably no painting could be done with this child. He did take a tantrum and my Deputy was getting exasperated as his reaction. Then at the end of session she went on and on about his not listening or doing as we ask and he was just so impossible to work with while on the other hand saying it is all about reinforcing rules and following through. Which we did to a point but I have to say when the child is only with us 3 days it is hard to get it through to him that we all line up in a queue before we go tearing into a room. That we tidy up past when we are finished in an area and that we don't just sit at the snack table and shout repeatedly apple apple apple even though we haven't had toast yet. Nothing and I mean nothing seems to work with him - I have tried the distraction, the removal and taking of my hand etc etc as suggested here but it is exasperating and I am at my wits end with trying to do all these and appease my Deputy at the same time. Then she mentioned her nephew (a year old) is having a difficult time at private nursery and she is tempted to give up her job to look after him full time. I need real help in terms of management skills because I just don't seem to react the way she wants me to react. I kept throwing it back at her saying well what do you want to do but there just was no pleasing - I think she only wanted to vent her anger and I was there to do it to and she knew I would just sit there and take it all on the chin. It is causing me sleeping night of worry and now I have my stomach tied in knots trying to work it all out.

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I've worked with people who sound like your deputy. Its difficult for them to have their authority questioned and feel they are being belittled even by a 3 year old. She needs help to rise above it. If he's repeating apple, apple, apple she needs to tell him once, we'll have apple after toast and then ignore it, continue chatting to the other children. Our playgroup have a selection of toast and fruit on the table at the same time, maybe that could resolve the issue?

Queuing up has never been one of my favourite things to be honest, but how about asking the children to make a caterpillar or crocodile or snake by putting the hands on the shoulders of the child in front, have a picture for the child at the front to display and take turns each day being the leader if certain conditions have been met.

Was he having a tantrum because he couldnt use the sand etc? If so, could he have his arm in a carrier bag or glove on his hand? Or could the activities be adapted to suit his needs more? Big marker pens instead of paint, shredded paper instead of sand...

I need real help in terms of management skills because I just don't seem to react the way she wants me to react.

I dont think management skills would be helpful, you seem to think they will make you think like she does. Thats not necessarily what's needed. I wouldnt ask her what she wants you to do either, ask for her opinion by all means but then do what you think is best.

 

I used to keep a smile inside me for those moments when I wanted to scream, and I always reminded myself that at least I didnt have to take them home!

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terrydoo your job doesn't include pleasing your deputy.

 

Your role is to manage the setting as a whole in the best way you can to give the children the highest quality care and education you can manage. Part of that role includes considering the welfare of your staff and drawing on their ideas and expertise but not compromising on what you know is right to keep them happy.

 

I wonder if saying things like "Thank you for your thoughts on that. I will bear them in mind" would help you to establish some ground rules again. I'm sure there are plenty more that others on the forum could suggest.

 

You sound like you have a lot to think about in your setting at the moment and you don't need the added pressure of trying to please someone who has such entrenched views.

Edited by Upsy Daisy
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Guest terrydoo73

You made me smile Rea. We were having difficulty getting this particular child to come in from outside play time. Initially he had run to the front of the line and was ready to open the door when we reminded him that as we have a leader each day he would have to wait until the leader went in first. He did move back towards me but then ran away down the path wanting to jump the line again. My deputy stepped in and told him to wait. He refused point blank to come in then so I tried the persuasion tactic of saying "do you want to come in and paint" Of course my deputy immediately ate me in front of the children and said "but he can't paint". If she had only shut up - I was just trying to get him to come in!! I was trying desperately to work with him again in the hallway as he had ran on in to the playroom in front of everyone and we needed to get the other children in when she kept saying to me "what are we going to do, what are we going to do". We asked the child to come out a few times and wait with the other children - more or less to make the point of listening to us as adults and doing as we asked, perhaps stringing it a bit I know but we feel that the other children are following his lead and we would rather they did as we asked some of the time at least! I had to take him by the hand and walk out with him but of course he dug his feet in and refused to budge. I managed to get him out into the hallway and took him away from the other children then talked to him about listening to us and doing as we asked - of course met with loud no no no. By this stage the other children had gone into the room. I just find it extremely difficult to know how to act in these situations - my deputy wants me to be firm with him because she feels that if the other children can do then so should he but to me this is constantly giving him the attention he so desperately craves and loves when I am talking to him so much!! Anyway the reason you made me smile was we changed out painting to crayons and he never realised!! Mind you 2 swift strokes of the crayons and that was it and he was off again on his wandering around the floor.

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I used to ask children who played up in any way 'do you do this at home?' If they said 'yes' I would say 'well this isnt home, we have to do it this way' if they said 'no' I'd say 'well done, we dont do it here either'.

Occassionally you'd see a look of slight confusion like they knew they'd been tricked, but a lot of the time it worked.

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Yes I use that one Rea, and I also use their negativity - so if they are the type of child to often say No! to most things, I would then say, well that must mean you want to do painting, or play with the cars, come on let's go and do that now..... worked a lot of the time.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest terrydoo73

Am revisiting this after a month and unfortunately I can only say things are getting worse. We increased this child from 3 mornings to 5 to see if this could help the child and this started on Monday past.

 

Firstly what we have tried - distraction, ignoring, removal, taking attention away from him to another child, his pindividual one to one attention by a leader constantly. We are really getting to the end of our tether and at the same time aware of how much this child is gaining control over us and the other children in our Playgroup are losing out on attention. We haven't been able to do observations for a few weeks now simply because of how much work this particular child takes up. Reviewing every day both myself and my deputy feel exhausted and feel there is a dictation by the child to take complete control of our attention.

 

I did ask his parents to come in and see me and they have some tough work at home - an older child who is totally disabled and has been having epileptic fits lately and a baby sister of 6 months who appears to be having similar medical problems. Dad was very co-operative and I felt was prepared to help us as far as possible but mum was like saying I have enough to deal with without more from this child. Every day she says to the child "where you a naughty boy today?" She never asks us about his behaviour but seems to say this when we ask the child to listen to us and walk to his mum or when we ask him to come back and put away his toy.

 

We are at our wits end and although we have an advisor coming in next Tuesday to help us with this particular situation I don't think we can last until then! It is upsetting us from the point of few that we feel for the other children who are really looking for assistance and help as well as just the chance to be listened to but we just seem to be caught up with what this child is up - more from the point of view of ensuring he is not hurting others or lashing out by taking toys off them both things of which he does do on a regular basis.

 

We nearly can tell what our advisor will tell us - let him have more free reign, if he wants to lie down on the floor and roll just let him, if he wants to run right through the room just let him, if he doesn't tidy up don't go on at him make allowances for him for a while but ... if we do this with one child then the others will and have already picked up on his behaviour and mimic it too.

 

Yesterday another little boy was talking to my Deputy and saying who he liked in Playgroup and when he came to this child he said "my mum told me to stay away from him as he is bad news"! We can see genuine fear and moving away from this child when he is near!

 

There is no point in suggesting we talk to the parents again as we feel their attitude is "you deal with it while he is in your care please!"

 

Sorry for the long posting but it is just driving me nuts with trying to come up with strategy to just get through the Playgroup each day.

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Oh terrydoo73 you really do seem to be up against it with this particular child at the moment.

I know it is very easy to try different things to alleviate his negative behaviours.

But this in itself may be very confusing for this particular child. It appears from your post that the family may also be under a lot of stress at this time which could be another possible reason for his behaviour. [ Is there any family support for them available].

Try to focus on one thing that you can that he does well, it doesn't have to be anything fantastic could be as simple as hangs his coat up when he comes in.

Then shout it from the rooftops how great is that, you may need to be come quite animated so he can really see how pleased you are with him.

Most children thrive on praise so when you have found that magic thing, each time he does something successfully, whether it be comes in when asked, helps to tidy up etc really let him see how pleased you are with him.

Try if you can to concentrate on those and ignore the negative behaviours. Children very rarely wish to displease us as adults but it maybe the only way presently that he knows how to get attention albeit good or bad.

One thing that we have used many times over the years is a special pen, or something similar, which children know they may get chosen to use if they have played lovely at pre-school.

Keep going i know you are trying so hard to do you best. :o

Edited by bridger
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