You’ve seen old movies of classrooms.
Kids are all sitting calmly at desks, paying close attention to the teacher. They are neat, their hair is brushed, and no one is on the floor.
When a kid acts out, everyone is SHOCKED. What a disrespectful child! Clearly that child needs more discipline and has terrible parents.
Today, the classroom environment is much, much different. Kids chatter, move around, fidget, and have more outbursts than ever. We have what appears to be more children who need medication, more children with special needs, and more children who lack discipline.
What’s to blame? Are today’s kids actually worse than previous generations? Is it poor parenting, bad curriculum, or a generational trend?
Why is teaching so much harder today than in the past?
I have a theory.
I don’t think today’s kids are worse than previous generations.
In fact, for many kids, I think overall, they are raised to be much healthier and happier than in past generations.
But if that’s true, why are so many kids exhibiting out-of-control behavior in class? Why is it so hard to manage classroom behavior?
For many kids, I think it all comes down to anxiety. Kids today are over-scheduled, over-scrutinized and over-pressured. They are filled with worries, both for today, and for the future.
My 5th grader believes if she doesn’t get all As in school, then she won’t get into college. She knows if she doesn’t get a scholarship to college, she may very well never get there even with good grades, because college today is astronomically expensive- yet more necessary than ever.
My daughter tries her very best to succeed in the classroom, but she has ADHD. Every sound is a distraction. Every lesson the teacher gives is difficult to remember. She misplaces assignments that she doesn’t remember ever receiving. Socially, she knows she’s not quite like the other girls, although she does her best to fit in. She frequently melts down after school, because every moment she is there takes everything she has.
My preschooler has a speech delay. She gets frustrated when someone can’t understand her and often responds in anger and meltdowns. She has extreme sensory issues and cannot handle loud sounds, uncomfortable environments, and crowds. Her sensory difficulties make her always on edge and constantly distracted. She’s been called “difficult,” “spoiled,” and “out of control.”
What would have happened to my kids in previous generations?
In the 1950s and 60s, they would have been hit by teachers and caregivers. They would have been forced to conform, or forced out.
In the 1970s and 80s, they might have been labeled as unintelligent or prescribed massive doses of medication.
In the 1990s, they would have been told to “try harder” and “stop being lazy.”
In the supposed “struggles” we see in the classroom today, I see something wonderful.
Children no longer have to fear authority. Teachers and caregivers today spend a huge amount of time trying to get to know kids, their difficulties, and how to help them best.
The classroom may look chaotic- and yes, it is more challenging to find the root of a problem, versus controlling symptoms, but when you get to the root of an issue instead of just blindly trying to manage classroom behavior, something wonderful happens.
- We get to see just how amazing each individual child is.
- We learn to see the world in a whole new way.
- We get to really know each child on a deeper level.
I believe it is important for teachers and parents to understand that when a child acts out, it doesn’t mean that child is a bad child, or even that the child is trying to be difficult. In my experience, it is a rare child who deliberately wants to upset their parents or teachers.
Without the right knowledge, we end up hurting our children and students because we try to correct their “bad” behavior using methods that only increase anxiety and stress on our kiddos.
But without the right sort of training, we will continue to hurt kiddos unintentionally with the wrong reaction to their problems.
One of my favorite sayings a friend told me once is, “Your child isn’t giving you a hard time, your child is having a hard time.”
That simple sentence has completely revolutionized the way I relate to my own kids, and to the other kids I teach.
The conversation then moves from, “how can I stop this behavior” to “how can I help this child.”
And that transformation is truly beautiful.
The next step to manage classroom behavior starts with you
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It’s not enough to just recognize that a child is having a hard time. That’s just the first step.
Luckily, I happened to be friends with an amazing mom who’d been through everything I am going through just a few years before (the same mom who gave me that quote!).
She’s created an amazing framework for getting to the root cause of intense emotions and struggles that kids face at home and in the classroom every day. Her system is based on her experiences as a classroom teacher and with her own son who is autistic.
The day I started implementing these strategies at home and with the kids I teach, was the day my life changed.
Nothing happens overnight, but just knowing I had tools to really help struggling kids has made all the difference.
Whether your a parent trying to help your own child, or a teacher hoping to improve the lives of your students, you can use this system and see real, positive changes in the lives of the kids you encounter.
The Calm the Chaos Workshop is only open a few times a year, and it is worth every penny and every minute you spend watching and learning. Whether you’re trying to manage classroom behavior, or behavior at home, the framework will work in either setting.
If you’ve always wanted to help struggling kids, but didn’t know where to start, this is the training you need.