This tool card provides an example of asking for a hug when a child is having a temper tantrum, but that is certainly not the only time a hug can be an appropriate intervention when you understand the principle of hugs. Later, I’ll share where the example on the card came from; but first I want to share another example illustrated in a story shared by Mary Wardlow.
While rewards may be a quick way to motivate students, it is important to stop and think, “What are students learning when they receive rewards?” Research has shown that rewards are not effective long-term and in fact can be harmful to students. The rewards become more important than the inner satisfaction of learning and contribution.
The Johnson family was about to complete their weekly grocery shopping when five-year-old Jimmy started coaxing for a toy car. Mom asked politely, "Have you saved enough money from your allowance to buy it?" Jimmy looked sad and said, "No." Mom suggested, "Maybe you would like to save your allowance so you can buy that car when you have enough money."
Rudolf Dreikurs shared “Making mistakes is human. Regard your mistakes as inevitable instead of feeling guilty, and you’ll learn better." Dreikurs’ perspective is supported by current day research. For example, Carol Dweck has found that students who perceive mistakes as opportunities to learn are more successful compared to students who avoid difficult tasks for fear of making mistakes. Dweck points out that students who are taught to embrace mistakes as opportunities develop strategies that lead to greater academic and personal success.
It is much easier to take responsibility for a mistake when it is seen as a learning opportunity rather than something to be ashamed of. If we see mistakes as bad we tend to feel inadequate and discouraged and may become defensive, evasive, judgmental, or critical of others or ourselves. On the other hand, when mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, recognizing them will seem like an exciting venture. "I wonder what I will learn from this one?" Self forgiveness is an important element of the first R of Recovery.
Close your eyes and remember the messages you received from parents and teachers about mistakes when you were a child. When you made a mistake, did you receive the message that you were stupid, inadequate, bad, a disappointment, a klutz? When hearing these messages, what did you decide about yourself and about what to do in the future?
Last week during our class meetings, I noticed a disturbing habit developing among my students. Sometimes they don't want to switch seats and move away from their best friends, and sometimes they want to be the last one standing (when we do an activity that has us sit down after our turn). Then we talked about how this might make everyone else feel and how it might affect our class community. We agreed that this was a problem because it did not make everyone feel welcome. Finally, I asked them for suggestions to solve the problem.
We can use daily challenges as opportunities to practice problem solving WITH our children. Children are great problem solvers when we give them the opportunity to brainstorm and come up with solutions. What a great life skill—to teach kids to focus on solutions when there is a problem.