Perhaps he had learned to trust me. That I wouldn’t yell at him, for anything. That there would be clear expectations of what is and is not acceptable. That the consequences would be just as clear; 10 push ups of course. And that there would be compliments, high fives and stripes on his belt for success.
I sometimes use the phrase “A NO Critique Kid” with my instructors. Some kids get so much criticism that either they thrive on it or shut down completely because of it. I once had a child lay down on the floor for 20 minutes because I gave him 10 push ups as a consequence.
We employ a strategy that only recognizes their positive attributes. We retrain them that we will only interact with them if they do something on the good list.
It took more, so much more to help the child in part I.
6 or 7 forty-five minute classes of more. Balancing the ignoring of the bad with redirecting to better behaviors. We did 10 for eye rolling in one class, and another 10 in a second class. Less than a minute after our second set of push ups, he did it again.
I stood right in front of him and asked, “Do you really want to roll your eyes at me?”
He shook his head, “No.”
One day he yawned so many times in one class I took out my frustration on the class that followed.
“Ugh! Everyone down. From now on let it be known that we will do push ups for anyone yawning in my classes.” We did forty push ups that day, and he wasn’t even there. Certainly we did a few in his next class.
During a warm up one day, this same young boy was having trouble being in control of his body. I had placed him at the end of the line so there was only one person close enough for him to bump into. We all turned to the side, which put him first and I walked to the front of the group to do side leg stretches with the class. He was making faces, being rude and not participating in a way that was helpful. I stepped around him, and began teaching with my back to him but facing the rest of the group. He zipped around me to get back into his spot.
I looked down and said, “If you want me to look at you then do what I ask you to do, when I ask you to do it.”
We were creating a relationship, he and I. He was testing me at every turn, being rude, interrupting, being noisy, running into people, going left when we went right, but why? I have no idea.
What I can tell you is that it is important to have a strategy and stick with it. Have faith that being fair, reasonable, and reliable is good strategy. Ignore the bad, reward the good is good strategy.
Teaching, like parenting, happens one day at a time.