I AM NOT A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST.I should say that early on. I am in no way certified to explain how your child’s mind works fully. I do not want you to sue me.
However, as a speech and drama teacher having taught in private and international schools and preschools for the past 18 months (see my previous article), I am given an insight into how a child’s mind works, Socially. I can see how they talk to each other when they’re doing a show and how they work together, and here are 4 things I’ve noticed:
1 The Lack of Trying stems from Lack of EarningThere are a lot of games involved when learning how to act (like “What’s the Time Mr Wolf” and “The Gunslinger” to name a few favourites). Most of them are aimed at the children expressing themselves and working together. Very rarely do I make it competitive as I feel that for children, competition is counter productive. However when I do, I can see which child works and earns what they work for.
I see this if a child loses a game and says the words, “Mr. Bob, I don’t want to play anymore!”. When I ask them why, they say: “It’s because I don’t win”. I then prod them further. “Don’t you know if you work harder, you win and get what you want?” Which is answered with a “No. If I want something my mommy/daddy/whoever gets it for me”.
Now this tells me that the child has not been taught how to earn their rewards and given their rewards straight off. This leads to point 2.
2 Lack of Earning leads to misplaced EntitlementI have a student. I am not very fond of him. All teachers have one of those. The reason I’m not fond of this student (we shall call him Oppenheimer) is because he thinks everything belongs to him. If we do a group drawing, he wants to keep the drawing as he thinks it belongs to only him. I have been told by people close to the family that his parents give him everything as they fear him crying. This tells me that the parents have also not imparted the importance of earning something. Therefore they feel entitled to everything they want.
This is a notable point because:
3 Entitlement leads to Lack of EmpathyWhen children feel that they’re entitled to everything and anything under the sun, this leads to them not caring about the needs and wants of others. Oppenheimer regularly tries to pinch or punch other students who have earned the right to a reward as he feels that he deserves them, even though they themselves have worked harder than him. He does not care and it leads me to giving him time outs or talking sternly to him (which I do not like as I like to practice positive classroom techniques). Oppenheimer also does not care that what he does hurts the feelings or body of others.
The lack of empathy is dangerous because:
4 Lack of Empathy leads to Lack of ListeningHow many friends do you have that you don’t really want to talk to, mainly because if you tell them something, they are not really listening. They listen just enough to form a reply without actually bothering to understand what you’re trying to tell them.
This stems from childhood and the lack of empathy and listening. When a child is not taught to understand the emotional consequences of what they do from their lack of empathy, it leads to them just doing things on the surface to escape punishment. They will say sorry without knowing what they’re saying sorry to.
Now I can give you an answer to all these issues. However, I’d rather much set a scene to let you understand how I handle these four issues in one go.
The Game: The CowboyTwo children stand back to back. If I say A, B, C or D. the students take a step forward, moving away from each other. If I shout MONKEY! They turn around and the first student who points their imaginary gun and says BANG wins. We play on with every student till we find a winner who is class champion and fights me (I will of course lose and do a dramatic death scene. Much to the joy and giggles of the class).
A student (we shall call her Adele) wins. However, Oppenheimer who lost an initial round of the game is angry and tries to beat her. I pull him to the middle of the class and talk to him in a stern but calm voice.
Me: Opp why did you try to beat Adele?
Opp: Because I didn’t win.
Me: Why didn’t you win?
Opp: Because I was slower than Adele.
Me: Why were you slower than Adele?
Opp: I don’t know.
Me: Could it be because you were not listening to me like Adele was?
Me: Now does that mean that You should listen more if you want to win?
Me: Good. Should you be angry at Adele because she listened harder?
Me: Exactly. Do you feel bad that you wanted to hurt Adele and that Adele is now scared of you?
Me: Now when you do something that is not very nice, what do you do?
Me: Good. Go ahead and say sorry.
There you go. I let Oppenheimer discover what negative things he was doing and repair them himself. I just gave him a gentle push.
If we were to put Trying, Earning, Empathy and Listening into the everyday lives of our children, surely it’ll be worth it to see them grow into nicer human beings.
Now I’m not one to tell you what to do with your children. I am not a parent and there are some things I don’t understand. However I feel that if we were to put Trying, Earning, Empathy and Listening into the everyday lives of our children, surely it’ll be worth it to see them grow into nicer human beings.
That, ladies and gentleman, is the point of speech and drama for children.
In my next article I’ll be talking about the preparation required for a Children’s Theatre Show.