A particular class in a school in USA had a reputation for being unruly.
No teacher wanted that class.
Many had started with a determination to “whip this class into shape” but had left in frustration after a short time.
A lady teacher applied for the position. Strong, domineering men had failed. How could a slender young lady possibly succeed? The principal was dubious, but the reputation of that class made it difficult to find teachers. No doubt she would quit in desperation and tears in a short time but she was the only applicant.
The principal avoided the class, unwilling to face what he thought was the inevitable, but after a few days the principal asked how she was coping with the class. He was staggered when she replied, “No problems. They are lovely children.”
Curious, the principal decided to watch as the children entered the room. As each child entered, the teacher cheerfully greeted each child, using his/her name, holding eye contact and smiling, and she made a positive comment to each one. Each comment was different. Each comment was genuine and given sincerely. Each comment brought a smile to the child and a lifting of the head.
Those children STARTED the day
with an affirmation of their personal VALUE.
Each STARTED knowing the teacher’s high EXPECTATIONS of them.
Each STARTED with a POSITIVE attitude.
That class was turned around.
The students started to learn and to achieve.
During many years in childrens ministry I have often been surprised, but there is ONE thing that has caught my attention MANY times in recent years. Mothers, when collecting their children, often ask them if they’ve been good, and the child will turn to a leader and ask “Have I been good today?”
DON’T THEY KNOW??!! Are children so used to being told NOT to do things and being told when they are “bad” or naughty, that they don’t know whether or not they’ve been good!?
Because of this I have asked children what “being good” means and answers are nearly always negative: ‘NOT fighting … NOT making a mess … NOT … NOT …’ or sometimes it will be things like: ‘helping Mum … cleaning my room … eating my dinner . . . putting away my things … helping with the housework’ etc.
MOST children are good MOST of the time – even the “bad” ones! – but they don’t realise it. Why not? Because they are never told they are being good. They are only told when they are NOT being good.
Good behaviour should be defined as ANYTHING that is NOT naughty. This simple understanding has been the single most important help for many parents with so-called “problem” children.
Children NEED to learn right from wrong. They NEED to be told when their behaviour is unacceptable – BUT –
Do we neglect to OFTEN tell them they are “good”?
Do we need to add “PERSONAL VALUE” to our children?