Start by enlisting teachers! They can:
- Encourage children to be quiet, respectful and polite
- Set expectations (bathroom and drinks between class and sharing time)
- Set up children for success
- Sit between children who cannot be reverent together – you don’t always need to give the children multiple chances to sit by each other
- Never let the kids sit behind their teacher
- Give reinforcement for good behavior: it’s not always appropriate or feasible for a leader to reinforce a child but the teacher can discretely and consistently
A child has a meltdown when he doesn’t get a turn:
- Evaluate whether a child is actually called on less or if one particular child is called on more.
- Enlist teacher – teacher can prep child ie. Say “Sometimes I get a turn and sometimes it’s someone else’s turn,” praise for positive behavior, teacher can ask child for their answer.
- Announce criteria for getting called on – sitting in seat, folded arms.
- If child exhibits reverent behavior reinforce them as soon as possible – with praise and a turn.
- Write a social story in extreme cases or have a stock phrase ex. “When I hear no I say, ‘Ok, maybe later.’” Or, “It’s not my turn, maybe next time.” (Social stories: reminds child of rules, strategies)
A child who makes random comments:
- Kid wants attention don’t give him attention for the comment.
- Redirect: “We can talk about that after primary.”
A child in perpetual motion:
- Add action songs, stretches – these are less disruptive than one kid running around which attracts the attention of all.
- Come up with a spiritual tie in: ex. Have the children pantomime putting on the armor of God then stand up and sing The Army of Helaman.
- Ask the teacher to do something active in class before they come or go get a drink.
- Reinforce staying in seat – figure out what reinforces the child: praise, telling parent, stickers, etc.
- Often sing a motion/active song to give children a chance to get wiggles out. Suggestion: rev them up then calm them down ex. Sing head, shoulders, knees and toes faster and faster – then slower and slower or sing I am a child of God after the movement song.
A child with attitude:
- Prepare – decreases opportunities for misbehaving.
- Engage them. I changed the names in stories to the names of the kids in my class. Figure out what they like and do more of that. Kids like visuals, they like games, sharing experiences, getting called on, choosing something.
- Be flexible.
How to redirect or ignore attention seeking behavior:
First observe child to figure out motivation: (if the child is trying to leave room – he could possibly be motivated by escape) if the child wants to be called on, to talk, people to pay attention to them, and acts out when someone else is getting attention they probably want attention.
- Respond non-verbally: finger to the lips signifying quiet voice, folded arms signifying reverence
- Praise a different child who is being reverent: “Marci, I love how reverent you are being!” “Jennifer, great job sitting in your seat!”
- Without naming the child inform them how they can get attention: “I will call on only children who are folding their arms and not talking.”
Most importantly Give child attention when behaving reverently!!! If you don’t they have no reason to be reverent. How:
- Enlist the teacher: leader can’t praise the child every 5 or 10 minutes but a teacher can.
- Mention a couple of reverent kids occasionally (catch them being reverent!). Say something like, “Brian, I appreciate how reverent you are being.”
- Give out reverence stickers. You might have to disproportionately give them out.
- Be aware of how much attention you are giving other kids. If one kid gets called on frequently and a lot of attention others, not capable of the same behavior, will notice and stop trying.
Child in front holding something for Sharing or Singing Time acts very disruptive
- Matter-of-factly: Thank child for holding it/helping out and say it’s time to give another child a turn. Call up someone who was reverent and tell them it was because they were reverent. But do not expect more from a child than he is capable of or they will stop trying to behave!!