In the foster care system, there are strict rules about how you can and cannot discipline a child. A lot of the reasoning behind it, is because of the mental and emotional trials these kids have had to endure. In Utah, when you want to become a foster parent, you have to go through training to learn about a discipline method called Love and Logic.
I first heard about Love and Logic when I started dating my husband. He heard about it when he signed up to become a foster/adopt parent. So what exactly is Love and Logic?
Instead of demanding a child to clean their room, "Right now!" you give them a time frame to complete the task. Then, encourage the child by asking questions and giving options. “Do you want to start by picking up all the clothes off the floor, or by picking up all the Legos?” In this way, you encourage them to make good choices.
While writing my book, "1 Year of Sunday School Lessons for 3-5 Year Olds" I didn't write Love and Logic into it. I did, however, keep this method in mind while creating each lesson.
Because every teacher has a different teaching style, I included several choices in each lesson. This allows teachers to pick and choose what to use since no two classrooms have the same kinds of kids. Not to mention, everyone learns in different ways.
If you've struggled with difficult situations in your classroom, such as bullying, temper tantrums, or distracting behavior, you may want to consider using Love and Logic.
An example of using this methond in the class would be, at the end of the day, when it’s time to start cleaning up the classroom before parents come. Getting preschooler's to clean up after themselves can be a challenge. One way to do this is by giving choices. A conversation between teacher and student might look like this:
“Ok kids, it’s time to start cleaning up! Amber, do you want to pick up all the blue blocks or do you want to pick up all the red blocks?”
“I don’t want to pick up, I want to keep playing.”
“Amber, do you want to pick up the blue blocks or the red blocks. You choose, or I’ll choose.”
There may be pouting. If so, repeat the question. If pouting continues, or if the child continues not to listen, proceed by choosing one of the colors for her. She may then decide to choose the other color and begin to pick up. If not, you can proceed in the following manner:
“Amber, I need you to pick up all the blue blocks or go sit in a corner until your mom and dad come to pick you up.”
You’ve given the child another choice. Help or have a consequence. If you have a child in your classroom that is anywhere near as stubborn as my son, you may have to take some extra steps.
For example, if the child still won't make a choice ask, “Do you want to go sit in the chair by yourself or do you want me to take you there?”
If you don’t get a response, say “You choose, or I’ll choose.”
If there is still no response, carry the child to the time out chair.
NOTE: If you use this method early in the class, you can tell them to stay in time-out till they are ready to get along with the other kids.
However, in this situation, we’ll have Amber wait in the time-out chair until her parents arrive. If she gets up, continue giving her options.
“Amber, do you want to pick up the red blocks or the blue blocks?”
“You choose or I’ll choose.”
“If you’re not ready to help you need to go back to the time-out chair until your parents come.”
“Do you want to go by yourself or do you want me to take you?”
“You choose or I’ll choose.”
You might be starting to see a pattern. Eventually, if you are consistent, you will begin to see her making choices. She’ll choose to go to the time-out chair on her own. She’ll choose to pick up the blocks, etc.
If you have to use this method on any of the kids in your class, be sure to tell the parents about the behavior and the steps taken to correct it.
Always be encouraging. Ensure the parents that their child is still welcome in the class. Ask to pray for them about any issues that might be going on in the home.
If you don't like the idea of bringing secular methods into the church, I would recommend taking a look at "Loving Your Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk. He is with Bethel Church in Redding California. This is also a great program for small groups in your church. You can find their website here.
Above all, if you have difficult kids in your class, pray for them. God may reveal something to you about their home life. You may be able to give them an encouraging word, pull them aside in class and pray for them etc.
No matter what methods you choose to use in your classroom, prayerfully consider what's going on in the hearts of your students.
What types of issues have you had come up in your toddler and preschool classrooms at church? How did you handle them? I'd love to hear your stories! Shoot me a note here on my website or on Facebook.