Month: September 2011

My Way or the Highway

An Ode to Bossiness

Remember that old saying “Who died and made you the boss?” Well apparently I did and my 4-year old is now officially in charge. Of everything and and everyone she comes into contact with. Now I realize she is in a unique position here at our preschool being only 1 of 2 kids of staff members. I’m pretty sure I would be feeling rather full of myself if my parent was a teacher where I went to school. But even that doesn’t justify the authority she has bestowed upon herself, ranging from what imaginary name kids can give themselves to tattling on everyone to insisting that she is “the leader” in every game.

She looks soooo sweet but is actually in full command mode here!

Is this all coming from me? I’m absolutely cringing inside thinking that I have somehow developed this tyrannical attitude. But everything I’m researching says, “Fear not loyal subjects – this too shall pass”. I guess it’s only natural that she thinks she is the most important person in the world. For 4 years now, she has definitely gotten not only a hall pass on behaviors I would’ve never let my first child get away with, but also had pretty much every adult she’s ever met tell her how cute she is. I’m surprised her head fits through doorways with that ego. Self-esteem issues? Not so much.

Just got her way………….again.

But it’s also natural that at this age, control issues are very much on their little minds when for most of the day they are under the control of parents, teachers and older siblings. It’s hard to imagine she is compensating for a lack of power in her life, but she is in fact the younger sibling at home. It’s certainly possible that she feels when she’s with her friends, it’s her chance to be “in charge” for once. I must admit she is actually very well behaved at school, almost always following the rules (probably because she makes them) and being a good listener. So for her to try and wrest a little (or a lot) of control with her friends during the day, well I guess that’s pretty understandable.

I once attended a seminar where I heard that 80% of what we say to children comes out as a command. That’s an awfully big percentage and a little too authoritarian in my book. Yes, maybe when you pose too many questions and ask children to do things you may be setting yourself up for an emphatic “NO!”, but how about trying to hit a lower percentage of commands? How about 50% or 60%? I think that would still clearly get across the point of who’s in charge.

Not listening to anything anyone else has to say:)

What I do worry most about with her royalty complex is that she will suffer a loss in friendships. Personally, I would only put up with that attitude from one of my friends for a NY minute. But then again, us New Yorkers aren’t the most patient bunch. I tried reminding her that she is not actually a teacher here, to which she replied, “I keep forgetting!”. So lately, my best strategy in trying to give her some guidance on this bossypants style of play is to say, “Sydney, I’m not sure your friends like when you always tell them what to do. But I guess you’ll have to see how that all works out for you”. Maybe giving her the control of how she interacts with them will help her choose more wisely? In any case, I’m hoping for this stage to taper off sooner rather than later. And maybe when she heads off to kindergarten next year and Mommy isn’t there at school, she’ll eat a little humble pie in the cafeteria:)

Pay Attention? Nope sorry

Attention span gets so much attention for lack of a better
word. It’s always talked about with such reverence (by myself as well) when
children have a long attention span, and with almost hushed, worrisome tones
when they seem to have a short one. I am possibly the luckiest teacher in the
world with my current gaggle of 2-turning 3-year olds. They have been
pronounced by all the staff and other teachers as the most mellow, attentive
group of small people ever to come through the Acorn School.

So as we moved out of the Toddler room and
officially became Preschoolers, I thought for one of our first activities, we
could go on a nature walk/scavenger hunt.

We desperately needed to re-stock our
Science collection with rocks, pine cones, leaves, etc. (The snakeskin I found
in the parking lot was lonely on the shelf, kinda smelled and was grossing everyone out).

I had the camera ready, a collection of magnifying glasses,
binoculars, and a bucket for all our anticipated Mother Nature loot. As the
official “Science Geek” in the school, I’m beyond excited for this little
adventure and thinking it will last most of our morning…….Ha!

While we occupied ourselves briefly trying to figure out the
right end of the binoculars…………….

and did manage to pick up a couple interesting rocks and

at approximately the 4 minute mark, ALL DONE! 🙂

What happened to my “longest attention span” ever group of
children?! They could sit and sing, or use Playdough for 30 minutes in the
Toddler room! It’s chaos and my morning schedule is blown.

Well, that serves me right I realized (actually I had no choice b/c they were now running around the playground screaming at the top of their lungs). If I never forced them to participate in anything when they were Toddlers, why did I think this week they would be at my beck and call just because they were now Preschoolers? Had they lost all their attention span? Absolutely not – I had just lost my mind.

Children pay attention to things when they’re interesting!
We were doing an activity that was interesting to me, not them. Sweethearts
that they are, they humored me for that 4 minutes and didn’t say “Suzy, I’m bored” or “This stinks”.

As an adult, how often do we pull out the Iphone when something isn’t grabbing our attention? Do we get labeled with ADHD? No, we get to use the excuse of “checking our messages” or “touching base with the office”. If the kids had Blackberries on them right then, they probably would’ve pulled them out!

The general rule of thumb in preschool land, is that
attention span usually translates to about a minute per age (along with the
number of directions they can follow). Children are trying to explore their surrounding environment, and to expect them to be engaged in
one activity for a long period of time is simply expecting too much. That
doesn’t mean it will never happen – as I mentioned above, this was actually one
of the few times they didn’t stick with an activity.

I also believe as teachers that we can/should try to extend the length of some activities when appropriate – making observations,
adding new elements mid-way into an activity, or offering assistance. But in
reality, it will probably be at age 5 or 6 that most children are able to
concentrate fully on a project for a long time, shutting out all other stimuli
or distractions. So please don’t think your children have an attention span
disorder when they’re simply trying to absorb as much as possible into their
little brains! In the meantime, I learned my lesson about
trying to direct traffic too much in my classroom. And I think I’ll invest in
some Iphones so they can pull them out when they’re bored with me………….