The child has a strong need to find reliable support, real help and emotional support from the adults around it. It wants to have confidence in its educators, it wants them to impress it, to arouse in it a sense of respect and loyalty. The child strives to be guided in its development by a strong, healthy, harmonious personality with whom it will feel safe, and be spared from feelings of threat or anxiety.
Such a person is an authority for the child. Without real authority, a successful upbringing cannot be imagined. If the educator wants the child to listen to him, to accept his instructions and advice, to be guided through life without resistance, it is necessary for the educator to secure authority first of all. Then he can be sure that the child will not defy him and that he will not have major educational difficulties with it.
Authority is based on the child’s unwavering trust in the educator. Trust instills a sense of security, which motivates it to submit to the educator’s guidance. Then the educator’s physical and mental superiority does not bother the child; with such an educator it does not feel threatened in its prestige, but experiences a certain value of its personality. Proper upbringing therefore begins with building the authority of the educator.
A proper educator never imposes his personality on a child. He does not interfere between the child and its life goals and tasks; he does not require the child to behave in a certain way because of him, or because the educator wants it, that he will be angry or sad if the child does not do just that. It is wrong to tell a child:
“Do this and that, because I – your mother – want it!” Or:
“Make your mother happy, listen to what I tell you!” Or:
‘Don’t make me – your father – angry; you’d better listen to me! ”Or:
“Don’t you feel sorry for me — your father — for your misdeeds?”
If we talk to a child in this or a similar way, it becomes short-sighted, in the transferred, psychological sense of the word. The child acquires the belief that because of its parents or some other educator, for their love or out of fear of them, it must behave in a positive way. But that is not the case. A child does not have to be polite or diligent or disciplined or considerate or kind or in any form positive because its parents and teachers want it, because it suits their comfort or flatters their vanity. If we look at the psychological situation of a child in relation to the adult environment objectively and without prejudice, without sentimentality and patriarchal moral principles, it becomes clear that the child is not responsible to the educators for anything.
The moral responsibility and life duties of the child should be sought elsewhere than in its relationship with educators. The child has a duty above all to itself. It is responsible for all its behavior because its success and happiness in life will depend on it, that is, what every person strives for the most. On the way to satisfying its natural needs, the child will soon encounter a tendency within itself to fit in positively with the human community. Here it must clearly see the true meaning of the norms of social life. It must feel that duties and obligations to the community are first and foremost a responsibility to oneself. Man does good to himself, he gains true life satisfaction, affirmation and recognition of his individuality if he directs his activity in the interest of the community.
Such a psychic vision that is gradually shown to the child, in parallel with its development, should not be interfered by educators. They must allow it to always see as clearly as possible its own benefit from a positive form of behavior. The child must be convinced as often as possible that with negative behavior it primarily harms itself. But it doesn’t need to prove it, because it has little use for many words. Sermons have no place in proper upbringing. The child must directly, “on its own skin”, experience the benefits of the positive and the harm of the negative forms of its reactions. To make it possible for it, a good educator acts like a director in a play, who keeps all the events on stage under his control, but remains invisible to the audience. Thus, the educator should stand aside, behind the scenes of the child’s development. He should hold in his hands all the threads of that process and manage it, without still jumping to the forefront of children’s lives.
Such an attitude of the educator towards the child is most pronounced in those situations when the child should be punished for some omission, mistake or misdemeanor. Punishment is most successful if the child experiences an intense feeling of discomfort, which is a direct consequence of its awkward behavior. Life, its laws, its internal logic, i.e. the child’s own behavior should be what punishes the child, and not the educator himself. In that case, the child will learn something, it will learn from the punishment it has prepared for itself. It will experience that it cannot ignore the logic of life with impunity because it will take revenge on it. And against it, against the natural rules of life in the human community, man cannot fight. Because it is something impersonal, intangible, but at the same time something that cannot be avoided. Such an experience forces the child to change their behavior in terms of a healthier, more constructive attitude towards the reality of life. At the same time, it contributes to its emotional maturation.
But the natural consequences of bad behavior do not always occur immediately after the act itself, or the connection to it is not always obvious. The child will only bring the unpleasant consequence into connection with its mistake if a long time does not pass between the cause and the consequence and if the causal connection between them is quite clear. Otherwise, the natural consequences will not have an educational effect. This is the hour when the educator needs to intervene with his directorial role. He should fix the whole situation so that the unpleasant consequences of his awkward behavior for the child occur immediately and in a sufficiently sensitive way. Educators, of course, are required to have a certain skill, i.e. imagination and resourcefulness. It is often necessary to improvise the natural consequences of a child’s behavior, but this must not be in a conspicuous way. The child must feel the blow it has inflicted on itself, but it must not notice the educator’s hand, which has fixed the situation so that the blow came at the right time.
The principle of the director’s role of educator in relation to the child, without imposing one’s own personality, can illustrate the example of a 5-year-old child who did not want to put its toys away before going to bed. Its mother warned it that some toys could disappear or be damaged if it did not store them, but the child did not listen. Its mother no longer warned it or forced it to tidy up its things. She took the child to bed, leaving its toys lying around the room. When the child fell asleep, she hid its favorite toy. In the morning, the child searched in vain for the toy and regretted not having it. Then its mother told it in a very calm and serious way that such troubles usually happen when a person is messy and does not take care of their things. She encouraged it to take better care of the toys for the second time and save them in their place when it finishes playing with them, so it won’t lose anything anymore. The child cried, but the mother did not react, but left the room without a word and went about her business. After a long search, the child finally found its favorite toy and happily showed it to its mother. She expressed satisfaction that the child had calmed down, but still pretended to be ignorant, as if everything had happened on its own.
It is important in the whole process that the mother remained seemingly passive and uninterested all the time, but kind and well-meaning. She did not scold the child with a single word, did not blame it for the mistake, nor did she resent it for not listening to her. Only as a neutral observer did she interpret the child’s behavior and point out to it one of the laws of life. She did not force the child to do anything, she did not impose any regulations on it. And success was not lacking: the child became tidier from that day.
The case of a 4-year-old girl is also instructive. She often “does not hear” her grandmother calling her for lunch while she is playing in the yard. Her grandmother has to repeat the call several times so that the girl decides to obey her or she must go down to the yard by herself and bring her to the table, of course with the crying and resisting of the little rascal. One day her mother returned home who had spent a long time in the hospital. Now she took on the role of her daughter’s head educator, but the girl was still “deaf” to the demands. But the mother reacted differently. When the girl did not respond to the call to the table, the mother repeated the call once more, this time louder, considering the possibility that the girl was so engrossed in the game that she did not really hear the first call. But the little girl did not listen this time either, although she showed that she had heard her mother’s call. Now her mother no longer called her, but sat down at the table with the other members of the family and they all started having lunch.
After a while, the girl came to the table on her own. But lunch had just ended and the mother was carrying empty dishes from the table. The girl now expected her mother to serve her food, but in vain. Her mother calmly told her that she was sorry she was hungry, but now she had no choice but to wait for the next meal. In doing so, she refrained from any reproach. The girl cried, began to beg her mother to give her at least bread and butter or anything else, but her mother calmly replied that she would get it for lunch, as has long been the custom in their family. Now the girl began to scream and stomp her feet in rage, but that didn’t help her either. The mother did not react to all this. She took the child to another room to calm it down. She neither scolded her nor threatened her. The girl had no choice but to wait for the next meal and think about the futility of her defiance. The mother, of course, had previously locked the pantry so that the girl would not get food after all, and thus played the natural consequences of her disobedience.
The full effect is achieved by natural consequences only when the educator remains consistent and does not give up the application or allows the child to somehow escape them. A parent should not be seduced by a child’s promises such as “I will never do that again.” It is a favorite children’s trick that educators too often fall for. A child very easily makes any promises that adults extort from it when it wants to get out of some trouble. But it immediately forgets it as soon as the danger of punishment passes.
An excellent means of applying natural consequences to older children is pocket money. It should be given to children as a task, not as a reward. In the upper grades of primary school, the child should be told that it is already mature enough to just take care of its small daily needs – for pens, notebooks, children’s magazines, cinema, sweets and more. So let it practice in self-disposition of money because its parents will not buy it these little things anymore. Pocket money can be used to compensate for damage caused by a child. If its savings are not enough to compensate the damage, the parents will lend the child the necessary money, with the child repaying their out-of-pocket debt.
In a dormitory, the children were very careless in handling the dishes, so they broke a plate or a glass every hour. Then the administration of the home introduced pocket money. They had to compensate any damage with that money. Now the children not only paid much more attention to the dishes, they also quickly hid the broken object and immediately got another one themselves. They found an antique shop where they could buy dishes for a lower price than the one the home administration took out of their pocket money.
The principle of “directing” in education should be applied in all other areas of treatment with the child. Whenever a child is ordered or forbidden to do something, when something is required of him or her, or something is taught to it, it is always necessary to avoid imposing authority on it. Instead of the educator speaking on his own behalf, it is better to speak on behalf of the benefit to the child. Eg:
“Put on your coat because it’s cold outside,” not “I want you to put on your coat.”
“Now you can’t play anymore because it’s time to go to sleep,” not “I’m not letting you play.” I want you to go to bed, etc.
It is in this way that the educator will do much for his authority. The less it is imposed on it, the more the child will gain trust in the educator. It will instinctively feel his self-confidence, his reality and objectivity in approaching the child. This unusually impresses the young person and motivates it to respect adults.
The method of building authority is also the effort of the educator to constantly educate himself, to be critical of his actions, and to constantly seek and correct his mistakes. A good educator adapts elastically to children’s needs and interests, i.e. current educational situations. He avoids any rigid scheme in upbringing and seeks to act in the manner he deems most realistic in the circumstances. Acknowledging to himself his shortcomings in the upbringing of a child, he learns on the basis of them and thus, in parallel with the development of the child, he himself matures in the role of an educator. When the upbringing does not give satisfactory results, a real educator does not look for the cause in various outside circumstances, in life circumstances, in a housing situation, or in the influence of film and children’s reading material. He looks within himself for the cause because of which the child is not behaving properly, asking himself what he did wrong.
Such an educator is aware that his own behavior strongly influences the child’s behavior. He sees that the child “sees the world through the eyes of its parents,” as Dreikurs puts it. So he strives to improve his relationship with life and other people as much as possible. He tries to be solid in his profession, to perform his social obligations in a serious way. In addition, he is tactful and considerate in dealing with other people and treats them with respect and consideration. And towards other family members, above all towards his spouse, he shows emotional warmth and love.
It is helpful for educators to constantly watch what they say in front of the child. One should beware of malicious criticism and gossip of other people, one should avoid expressions that we do not want the child to adopt. It hears and remembers everything that adults say in front of it very well and tends to imitate it all. That is why we should not make statements about ourselves or other people or about various life issues in the presence of a child that are different from those we give when we teach a child about something. It is wrong, for example, to make fun of an adult from the circle of family acquaintances in front of a child, and then demand that the child respect them. In this way, the educator develops in the young person a hypocritical attitude towards people, and at the same time damages his authority. Namely, a child cannot be impressed by a man who has proved insincere.
The reliability of educators is a powerful tool in building authority. If the child’s trust is to be preserved, the given word should always be maintained. The educator is obliged to fulfill every promise. In doctor’s offices, parents are met who promise their children everything just to be calm during the examination, to undergo medical treatment without crying. But as soon as they leave the clinic, most parents forget about the promised sweets or toys, so they get angry at the child if it demands that they keep their promise. After several such negative experiences of parental reliability, the child loses trust in them, is disappointed in the parents because it carries within it a natural need to experience them as solid, reliable people who never fail. Disappointment is painful. An unconscious desire for revenge arises in the child, which motivates it to be defiant, arrogant and ridiculous towards adults. Their authority disintegrates, so the child pays less and less attention to the wishes and demands of the educator. And they are amazed, condemning the child and not thinking to look for the cause in their deceptions and in the reckless trampling of the given word.
The same goes for the various notices that adults give to children. When a child is told anything, it should always be true. It is nonsense, for example, to tell a child about how it came into the world. When the child is not told the truth, there is a double danger: it is very likely that in this way the child will learn to lie, to be dishonest and not to tell us the truth about itself, and at the same time the educator tramples on his authority. It is impossible to prevent a child from knowing the truth about what adults want to deny it. Sooner or later, educators will give themselves over to some reckless statement, so the child will again gain experience of their unreliability.
A typical example is a 6-year-old boy who once rode a train with his mother. He was naughty, climbing into a seat, leaning out the window, playing with the heating control lever. The mother constantly warned him to be calm, but the child did not pay attention to that. It was obvious that the mother had no authority. When the boy started going out into the hallway, disturbing the other passengers, his mother threatened to arrest him by a policeman who was allegedly in the hallway. Then the little boy peered curiously into the hallway, looked around and, not noticing the policeman, who in fact was not there, turned to his mother with a triumphant smile on his face: “Mom, there are no policemen outside!” It is not difficult to understand why this boy does not listens to its mother; it wasn’t the first time his mother had lied to him.
The educator will provide himself with the stronger authority in front of the child the less he fights for it. This means that one should not emphasize in front of the child his superiority, his greater abilities, knowledge, dexterity, experience and other characteristics of adults. Even without this, the child feels the great superiority of adults over itself in various skills and in the ability to live independently. This greater adult perfection usually encourages the child to practice its abilities, motivating it to become similar to its parents as soon as possible. If adults specifically emphasize their superiority over a child, they discourage it because they artificially increase the difference between themselves and the child. The more distant the goal of an endeavor, the harder it is for a person to decide to go to it, that is, the easier it is to lose courage and abandon the attempt to reach it. Thus, even a child finds it difficult to identify with the perfect educator. If the latter constantly emphasizes his perfection and compares it to the child’s imperfection, the child becomes foreign, it loses confidence, fears it and turns into defiance of it.
Therefore, a prudent educator acts in the opposite way. He tries to get down to the child’s level as often as possible, both in the game with the child and in his attitude towards the child, towards his behavior and mistakes. The educator will never underestimate any child’s play or other activity, dismissing it as frivolous, childish, and worthless. Instead of shaking off a child who approaches him with a toy: “Leave me alone with these games, I don’t have time for such trifles”, he will be smarter if he were to take an interest in what the child shows him and to engage in activities in which the child wants to draw him in. The educator will not harm his authority at all, but on the contrary will only strengthen it if he descends to the level of a small child as often as possible, sitting with it on the floor, participating in its game, giving the child a piggyback ride and the like.
When assessing children’s behavior, the educator must not be disgusted:
‘How could you do such nonsense? Why are you so clumsy! I don’t understand how someone can be so careless! “
His reaction will be much more correct if, without raising himself above the child’s qualities, he calmly warns of the shortcomings, expressing the belief that the child will do the same thing much better on another occasion. Moreover, the child should be encouraged to correct its mistake as soon as possible, eg:
>> This time your task is messy; the composition is superficial; there are a lot of mistakes in it. You were obviously careless. It seems to me that you have already successfully solved more difficult tasks. Try a little harder; I’m sure you can write this better. “
It is completely wrong to set an example for the child, especially since the educator often idealizes himself, presenting such qualities that he does not actually possess. It is pointless to recite to a child in this way with a certain pathos:
‘I wasn’t as frivolous as you are when I was your age. I have always been obedient and diligent. I was a child too, but I never thought of such nonsense as you. “
A prudent educator will prefer to accept a child’s mistake as an ordinary, possible phenomenon, as an expression of general human imperfection, so he will talk to the child about its causes and help it find a way to a more realistic behavior. When a child experiences an inconvenience, for example, a friend while playing beats it up and the child cries and complains to the parent, he will wisely do to comfort it first instead of scolding it. When he finds out that the fight was caused by the child’s behavior, the educator will warn it of its mistake and of the logic of the consequence it caused. In addition, he will advise it on how to behave in a similar situation a second time to avoid embarrassment.
It is wise for an educator, who knows how important it is to ensure firm authority over a child, to show an interest in what the child is interested in. It is necessary to participate in its activity and talk to it. The child should be given the opportunity to tell us his or her experiences or a story in his or her childish way, often unrelated, intertwined with a lot of imagination. It is good to allow it to teach us something, to explain to us what interests it and what it does, whether we know it all or not. In this way, the educator gives the child the opportunity to feel equal to adults. This strengthens its trust in them, and the authority of the educator is built on this.
An instructive example is a 10-year-old boy. Despite his normal abilities, he is a very poor student. His parents try to encourage him to learn in various ways, but without success. It’s not hard to guess why this is so. Namely, parents constantly emphasize their superiority over the child by giving him a role model. His mother explains to him every day that she would have learned his lessons a long time ago, so that she would surely get excellent grades. And his father proves to him that at his age he was never lazy so he always got good grades. In addition, the parents insult the child, humiliate him with various derogatory names and punish him by beating him. Since the boy, despite all these educational measures, still does not progress, but on the contrary shows less and less interest in school, the parents, after a long series of sermons and bating, resignedly state:
‘You’re an incompetent fool. Nothing will ever become of you!
In such a situation, the boy really has no choice but to behave in the way his parents constantly accuse him of: as a fool. He behaved in the same way when his mother hired an instructor. The boy was late for instructions, distracted and restless. As the instructor struggled to interpret his assignments, he roamed the room and sat restlessly in the chair. Then the teacher realized that she would not achieve anything that way, so she turned to us to help her.
After consulting with us, she changed her course with the boy. For the next hour, she didn’t even mention school assignments, but talked to the boy casually in order to find out what he was interested in and what made him happy. She learned that the boy loves nature, that he likes to walk and collect herbs. In the second class, she again neglected the subjects. Instead of teaching, she took the boy for a walk in a nearby forest. There they collected plants together and suddenly found mushrooms. It turned out that the boy knows various types of mushrooms well and that he can accurately distinguish edible from poisonous ones. The instructor sincerely admired his skill in distinguishing mushrooms, so she expressed a desire to prepare some mushroom dish. The boy readily picked up a basket full of mushrooms for her because he liked to eat them himself. The next day she invited him over for lunch and treated him to a mushroom dish. At lunch, she pointed out several times that she hadn’t eaten such delicious porcini mushrooms in a long time, and the boy blushed with pride.
During the next walk in the woods, the instructor, along the way, asked the boy something from his school assignments. This time the boy did not resist, but readily began to answer. Then she told him that he actually mastered the material better than she thought when she first spoke to him. The boy learned the next lesson even better, because now he did not want to lose the trust of his newly acquired friend. This time, the instructor expressed doubt in the boy’s mother’s claim that he was lazy and ignorant. That’s why the boy couldn’t help but learn a new lesson and thus justify the instructor’s good opinion of him.
The instructions continued. But it was no longer a dry and official relationship between teachers and students, but a pleasant friendship. Until recently, the boy became completely independent in his work, so the instructor became unnecessary for him. But she still didn’t leave him. She made sure the boy found the company of peers who would continue to encourage him to take action. She aroused his interest in literature and managed to persuade him to enroll in music school. The boy gladly accepted it all. The class ended with very good success.
The change in the boy’s attitude towards learning occurred when he felt that the instructor was interested in what pleased him, that she did not belittle his interests, that she believed in his abilities and that she was ready to acknowledge his success. This caused the boy’s psyche to trust the young woman who encouraged him to work. When he accepted her emotionally, he began to learn everything that came from her. Because the child accepts school, teaching and work in general as he receives those who put these tasks in front of him.
If he wants to gain the full trust of the child, the educator must respect the child. It should be seen as a free person, an individuality, a being who has its “I”, its pride, so it has the right to independence, to make the power of these decisions, to its personal opinion, beliefs and views that do not have to match the lifestyle of the environment. It is wrong to think of a child as an ignorant, immature creature whose only duty is to listen to those older than itself. It should be borne in mind that a child has its own problems, worries and difficulties, to the same extent as adults, although of a completely different quality. That is why children’s problems should not be underestimated, no matter how small and unimportant they may seem to us. Educators are obliged to always take the child seriously, to look with understanding at its needs and difficulties, to respect its wishes and interests. It should never be forgotten that a child is sensitive to the actions of the environment.
Let a picture from everyday life show what it means to respect a child’s personality. One student asked the teacher something in a naive, childish way. She is the youngest and least developed in the class. She is still relatively childish for her age, so her friends like to tease her. Laughter erupted at her question in class. But the teacher noticed the attitude of the other students towards that student and her difficult position among them. So he stayed serious when the class laughed. He calmly stated that the question was not the least bit funny, but on the contrary quite appropriate. Then he answered. The class fell silent, the student looked gratefully at the teacher, and his authority grew.
Parents, teachers, and other educators often forget that a child is just as sensitive to the value and meaning of his or her personality as adults are. By considering a child only partially human, adults allow themselves to insulted it in a way they themselves would never tolerate. It is a daily occurrence for a child to be called derogatory names or to be ridiculed. Thus one professor says to a student who answers his questions poorly:
“You’ll only be as good as a shepherd, go to some mountain, there are a lot of sheep there.”
And others react like this to their student’s ignorance:
“A goose is as smart as you, look for yourself in it.”
Most interestingly, these educators are angry at the indiscipline and laziness of their students, and they are not in the least concerned about their own tactlessness and complete lack of respect for the child’s personality. It would be unnatural for children to respect such teachers or love the subjects they teach.
The tactical procedure with the child becomes especially important in puberty. Here, on the child’s psychological horizon, new needs appear, desire for a new society, interest in the opposite sex, sexual needs, fantasizing about heroes from novels and movies, striving to play sports, etc. At the same time, interest in school often subsides. The curriculum is usually at odds with the child’s natural aspirations. Parents become concerned that their child is getting lower grades, so they try to suppress all its “secondary” interests in order to force it to devote itself more to learning. Then they forbid it to play sports, do not allow it to go to the cinema, restrict its going out with friends. In doing so, they usually belittle it all, call the child’s interest in cowboy movies stupid, the content of its entertainment with peers frivolous as well as the need for excessive sports activity and the like. At the same time, they glorify the value of learning. All this offends the child, distances it from its parents, and the school becomes even more hateful to it. The authority of educators is severely damaged, and often completely destroyed. Namely, a child can only respect the one who loves it. In puberty, a child is especially sensitive to its prestige, so any attack on a child’s pride, and on what is personal to it, is especially dangerous at this age. Only when the personal interests of the child are taken into account can it be expected that the child will accept the incentive for those activities for which it does not feel a spontaneous need.
A proper educator does not require absolute obedience from a child. He allows it to behave differently than the educator wants. One should not be impatient in dealing with a child. Sometimes it takes a little while for a child to adjust to the educator’s request, to accept and realize it. It is wrong to demand perfect behavior. There is no such thing, because there is no adult in the world, not even a child without weaknesses and shortcomings. Therefore, it is better that the educator does not always expect the child to react flawlessly in everything. If it does, he will never be satisfied, so he will soon be disappointed in it. The child is heavily burdened by parental perfectionism, their aspiration to raise the perfect man from their child. In such an educational atmosphere, the child constantly perceives itself as a less valuable being who is never able to achieve what is expected of it. This, inevitably causes a negative emotional attitude towards itself, insufficient confidence in its abilities, and at the same time drives it to resist educators.
It is necessary for the educator to adapt to the child, to take it realistically, as it is. There is no point in asking a child to show some abilities it does not possess; it is equally unrealistic to try to snatch from a child some traits or inclinations that are innate to it. As it is impossible for a child with intellectual disabilities to be the best student in school, it is crazy to imagine that by nature a slow and phlegmatic child can be made lively and a temperamental child can be forced to rest and perfect discipline in the children’s team. If the educator weighs the child’s demands on the child according to his personal preferences and abilities, he will not be disappointed, he will not come into conflict with the child, and he will preserve his authority. This will encourage it to practice its abilities to the maximum.
Little Peter was always a good student. But one day he made a “mistake” at school, so he “earned” a negative grade. He went home crying and did not dare to enter his parents’ home because he was afraid of a strict mother who always emphasized her desire for her son to be an excellent student. Fortunately, the mother had not yet returned from work that day. The grandfather saw the boy crying in front of the door, and with a few words of consolation he calmly led him into the house. When the boy told him of his mistake, his grandfather did not scold him or accuse him of anything. He reassured him by explaining that a bad grade was not such a terrible thing and revealed to him the “secret” that he also sometimes received negative grades. He persuaded his grandson to correct the grade as soon as possible, before the mother found out about it. Peter calmed down and a few days later he told his grandfather that “everything was fine” now.
By acknowledging the mistakes of his own childhood, the grandfather did no harm to his authority over his grandson. He encouraged him with that. That is why the boy, because he had a strong motivation, accepted the teachings, which until recently yielded a positive result.
Many educators cannot gain authority over a child because they engage in a struggle with it at any moment. They respond to the child’s challenge with a counterattack, they respond to its disobedience with aggression, they try to break its resistance by force. In this way, they constantly come into conflict with the child, shout at it, quarrel with it, scold it, threaten it or punish it. Conflicting with a child, fighting with it for prestige deals a deadly blow to the authority of the educator. There is an affect of anger, rage, vengeance and rudeness, and in such mental states one loses control over oneself. The educator often regrets the words he uttered or the blows he inflicted in the onset of anger shortly after the collision with the child. But then it’s too late. The injury inflicted can no longer be undone. Harsh words and punishments offend the child, threats and beatings frighten it, and everything diminishes its confidence in the educator, only to ultimately completely undermine his authority. When he feels that he has exaggerated in his anger, the educator often tries to correct his mistake, deviates from his decisions he made in affect, withdraws into himself. Then he necessarily acts inconsistently, becomes ridiculous, and then ceases to impress. And that deals a new blow to his authority.
Conflict with the child should be avoided. The truth is that this is not always possible. And the educator is only a man, he is not a perfect being, so it happens to him that in an affect of anger he collides with the child. But it is necessary to practice to make it as rare as possible. If conflicts are only an occasional occurrence, an exception in the educational process, then they will not jeopardize the educator’s authority. It is a completely different situation when the struggle for prestige between the educator and the child becomes the main content of their mutual relationship. This must distance them from each other and turn them into open or covert enemies.
In order to avoid conflict, it is necessary to react to children’s crimes as calmly as possible. The educator should try to never do anything in the process with the child in the first fit of anger, suddenly and directly. He should try to delay his reaction until the moment when the anger passes, so he will be able to behave more thoughtfully. If he manages to delay a response to a child’s challenge for just an hour or two, it is very likely that he will act quite differently than he would by reacting directly to the child’s behavior. Calming down allows him to think a little about what he is doing and to subject his action to the influence of reason. It is certainly not always easy to overcome and suppress your affect. But much can be achieved through persistent practice, self-education, and honest self-criticism. Irritable, explosive people, who find it very difficult to control their affects, should rather not accept raising children.
If the educator does not succeed in taking a certain attitude towards some form of children’s behavior “on the spot”, it is best to “leave the battlefield” for a few moments, to go to another room, to focus on something else. It is not a sign of defeat, but an expression of wisdom. He thinks about how he will help the child to behave more positively, and not to put his injured personality and endangered authority in the foreground. A real educator never follows pre-determined schemes, conventional recipes and rigid formulas. He observes the child, tries to understand the motives of its behavior, and thinks about how he will best adjust his actions to the child’s characteristics and needs. The popular one: “Think first and then talk” could be applied to education, as follows: “Think first and then educate.”
This will illustrate to us an example from everyday educational practice. While one father is working at the table, his two daughters are playing next to him. They quarrel over a toy and start screaming and crying. Their father had scolded them several times on such an occasion, but each time they calmed down only for a moment, only to break up around the same toy again soon. Realizing that the previous procedure had not been successful, the father changed the method of upbringing. He suppressed his anger and abandoned the fight with the children. He calmly approached the girls and without a word of comment removed the toy that made them fight. Then they looked at him in astonishment and surprised by his father’s unexpected behavior, they forgot their quarrel and accepted other toys.
When the educator does not know how to control himself, but loses control over his reactions at any moment, the child will very quickly notice his weakness. It carefully observes the adults around it, so it hears and sees much more than they think and want. The child sees adults and their motives in a natural, intuitive way, without even being aware of it. It is in fact a better connoisseur of people than adults because it is not burdened with numerous conventionalities, prejudices and book templates that often blur adults’ view of the essence of human behavior.
If educators engage in a struggle for prestige, it is only natural that the child will seek the opportunity to hurt and defeat them. Noticing their emotional lability, propensity for excessive affect and insufficiently controlled reactions, the child will instinctively try to provoke them to such a reaction. That is why they are increasingly challenged and diligently practiced precisely those forms of behavior are that which most easily throws the educators out of emotional balance. Over time, it finds real satisfaction in automatically responding to challenges just the way a little torturer wants. Nor should it be proved that in such a situation the authority of the educator is abruptly degraded.
The educator must never allow the child to “throw him off the saddle”, i.e. to lead him to insufficiently controlled behavior. In this way, the child automatically draws him into repeated educational mistakes, because few people can maintain reasonable behavior in a fierce affect. In a fight with a child, every educational mistake is also a tactical mistake that leads to a new defeat. When drawn into a struggle for supremacy, the child does, however, like to defeat adults, it triumphs over their weaknesses and inconsistent actions. But at the same time, it loses more and more trust in them and values them less and less. Eventually it starts to hate them for not being able to respect them and for not impressing it. And that motivates it to be even more aggressive towards them.
It is unlikely that the child will leave the fight first. Only adults can be expected to be so mentally mature that they will see the futility and harmfulness of constant futile fighting with a child. Unfortunately, many educators do not realize this, but think that their prestige is constantly in danger, so they have to jealously guard it in front of the child. They do not realize, however, that they have become a toy in children’s hands, that a child can at will provoke them to fight and react in a certain way.
If they are already embarking on a struggle for supremacy, the educator can only preserve the authority to end that struggle as soon as possible and not allow the child to take advantage of the weaknesses of adults. When one side does not accept the fight, the aggression of the other side loses its meaning. That is why the child soon leaves the rule that no longer leads to any goal. This created the possibility for the relationship between the child and the educator to develop in the opposite direction, i.e. to turn from a mutual struggle for prestige into a friendly cooperation. Instead of continuing to impose his power, to insult and punish it, a prudent educator allows the child to feel the natural consequences of its misbehavior. He does not burden the child with insults and reproaches, but still shows sympathy and understanding towards it and at the same time does not give it the opportunity to avoid the consequences that logically result from its offense.
Roads are situations where some awkward form of childish behavior needs to be stopped quickly. This happens, for example, when a child screams tirelessly, persistently demands what cannot be given to him, makes some outbursts or otherwise disturbs his surroundings. Sometimes he finds himself in a position to endanger his health or life or to do some major damage, so he cannot wait until he accepts the warning. Then the educator finds himself in danger of getting angry, hitting the child, or otherwise coming into conflict with him. Therefore, it is useful in such cases to use some “tricks” that allow the child’s behavior to change abruptly, without coming into conflict with the child.
Younger children are most easily removed from an awkward situation or their behavior is interrupted if they are distracted from the matter and interested in something else. For example, when a child climbs on an open window, we will not shout at it , nor will we bother it with endless warnings, threats and intimidation. Without a word, we will take it away from the window and entertain it with something that is far from that place. The younger the child, the easier it is to distract it, so such a procedure regularly leads to success.
Older children can be persuaded by peaceful persuasion to abandon inappropriate behavior. It is useful to refer to their age and maturity, i.e. the inadequacy of such reactions for children with so much knowledge and life experience. Sometimes they can disarm and thus imitate this rule. This achieves the most success if, for example, the child makes various grimaces, pokes its nose or otherwise behaves indecently. An older child is usually ashamed, or only funny to itself, when it sees traces of its educator’s behavior in its own.
The educator sometimes achieves success by reacting to children’s behavior in the opposite way than children expect. Then the children are surprised, and this again motivates them to stop their previous behavior. When the class murmurs, the teacher will do his best to lower his voice or interrupt the presentation for a moment. That way, the students will calm down sooner than the teacher starts yelling at them.
Unexpected reactions are generally a very useful tool for ending awkward situations in working with children. Conflict can often be avoided if the outburst turns into a joke, if it is greeted with humor, or if some witty remark is countered. Humor is an excellent educational tool and often removes tension, calms the situation down, transfers interpersonal relationships to another level that prevents conflict. When a child defies, cries, whines, it is useful to tell a funny experience or turn the whole situation into a joke. In this way, the educator takes away the motivation of defiance, but also calms himself down, so he does not run the risk of getting into a fight.
The natural way of acting of adults in their attitude towards children also contributes to the creation of a healthy emotional relationship between the child and its educators. It is important to preserve a natural, warm and lively way in the speech when adults address children. Unnecessary and harmful is any sharpness in speech, any raising of the voice and showing that you’re upset. But what is also wrong is the sweet, artificial, cuddly way of talking. Both have a repulsive effect on children, reduce their openness, and make it difficult for adults to create strong authority.
In order to maintain authority the educator needs to be always consistent in his actions. A young person must feel safe with an adult. Security can be felt only with a man who consistently implements certain principles in his behavior, realizes his views, keeps his decisions, fulfills his promises. Consistency is an expression of a person’s strength and mental balance and evokes trust. Only such a person can serve as a healthy object of identification. The child instinctively feels this.
But consistency does not consist in the educator persistently and stubbornly persisting in some reckless and superfluous demands, in rigid schemes of upbringing, and in useless punishment. On the contrary, true consistency is shown by the educator who knows how to adapt flexibly to the child’s individuality. He applies his general principles of education in the way that is currently most useful. Before facing the child, he needs to consider whether the order is correct and necessary. But when we ask a child for something, we must make an energetic effort to carry out our order. Let the educator show that he really cares about what he demanded of the child. Only then can he expect the child to take the request seriously. The order should always be resolved, but at the same time friendly. It is good that the child in the educator’s voice always feels sympathy for itself, but also his firmness, determination and steadfastness. The educator will do wisely if he sometimes softens his order by replacing the imperative “Do it” with the expression “Will you,” “Could you,” “Be kind,” and so on.
The educator’s request must be valid in any situation equal to or similar to the one in which he first presented it to the child. This is especially true for the various hygienic and cultural habits that a child needs to adopt. It cannot be expected that the washing of a child’s hands before eating will become a habit if we only demand it of it once, and then repeatedly do not care if the child sat at the table with dirty hands.
A consistent educator does not give up on his decision for no good reason. He changes it only when he realizes that it is wrong or unrealistic. Consistency is especially needed when a child is experiencing the unpleasant consequences of their negative behavior. The effect will be more complete the more patient and consistent the educator is.