The key to being a good leader is to find the balance between discipline and fun.
So how do you find the balance? I have a great example of this:
I used to be a behavioural tutor in schools. One day I was asked to work with a boy in about Grade 3 or 4. I was warned that he was particularly difficult.
He saw me coming and got a smirk on his face that said, “I’m going to destroy you.” I had a smirk on my face that said, “No you’re not”. I sat down beside him and said, “We’re going to be friends”. I then said, “How about you write out what the teacher needs you to copy from the board?” He didn’t move, nor did I. We sat there still and silent for probably 30 minutes then the class was over.
It went exactly as I’d planned. I showed him I’m a leader, not a follower. He can’t make me re-ask. That didn’t mean he was going to let me lead, not yet anyway.
The next day I said, “I got the teacher’s permission to take you to the playground for 20 minutes. All you have to do is write down what the teacher wrote on the board first then we’ll go to the park.”
I’d already found out he loved climbing on this big rope thingy at the park which is why I used that. He wrote down what I asked and off we went to the park. At 15 minutes I counted down, “5 more minutes”, “4 more minutes”, etc. At the “let’s go back to class” point he wouldn’t get off the rope ladder. I just patiently waited without even looking at him. Again, no freaking way was he going to get me to re-ask. That seemed to confuse him so he only climbed for a few more minutes then went back to class with me.
Next day I said, “We were going to go to the park again today but because you disrespected me yesterday we can’t do it today.” He looked all confused so I explained that he stretched out the 20 minutes for several more minutes which wasn’t respectful to me. He started arguing that it was only a few more seconds, blah blah blah. I was already shut down, wouldn’t discuss it further. I was letting him know I’m the leader, I’m in charge.
If I had allowed him to engage me in a conversation about the park then he would’ve been in charge. Silence is so important. No anger at all, just complete calm.
I can’t remember but I think he was really rotten for the rest of that class. At the end of it I said, “I have something fun planned for tomorrow. See you then.”
By this time the kid was so confused, didn’t know what to make of me but he was intrigued.
The next day I brought a bag with me and said, “I’ll show you this when you’ve written down what the teacher’s writing on the board now.” He did it instantly much to my surprise, I thought it’d take weeks to break that kid and it only took a couple of days.
All I had in the bag was a deck of cards. I’d researched some card tricks and showed him a couple. Then I showed him how to do them and gave him the cards.
After a few days he was doing everything I asked of him and the teacher said his behaviour when I wasn’t there was remarkably better also.
All I did was mix discipline with fun which earned me his respect.
Please note that teachers don’t have time for these methods. They’re busy trying to follow a curriculum with 30 kids so need all the support they can get. Besides, kids should turn up at school well behaved. Manners and respect are up to the parents.
Kids are brilliant, they’ll only do what works. If being respectful works, then that’s what they’ll do. But if they are allowed to play video games, watch TV, etc. while being disrespectful then why change?
It’s so simple when you think about it.
Happy Parenting, Lisa.