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Why should the WELL-BEHAVED child miss out?

I recently received an email about a topic I talk about in both my behaviour course, and my social competency course (both run for Early childhood teachers.)

I’ve posted the email and my response below. It’s my firm belief that we need to teach our “good” children who are being bothered by unpleasant behaviour around them to resolve the problem themselves as much as possible – by making a decision about whether to stay in the situation, or to go.

We have such high rates of domestic and family violence in NZ. I’m sure part of this is because we do not teach our children they can make choices to protect their own happiness. Sometimes that may mean making a decision to leave an activity, if it means leaving behind a person who is not behaving positively towards them

That doesn’t mean the child displaying negative behaviour “gets off”. It’s our job as adults to help redirect that child, model positive behaviours and help create new ones for the child. However, it is our job to help both sides learn- both the perpetrator and the victim.

If we teach them that it’s someone else’s job to rescue us when someone treats us badly – what are we doing to our future generations?

Here is the email:

I attended your PD on Social Competence and found it really informative, especially the information about introverted children.During your talk you stated a good strategy for children to learn is to move away from a child who is annoying them. I was talking about this with other teachers some days later and we were wondering whether it was fair for the child who is quite happily playing to have to move and miss out on continuing with their play while the annoying child gets to do what they like. Could you help us understand this strategy a bit more, thanks.

This is my response:

Really good question.
The key is – what is best overall.
In adult relationships, often we have to weigh up – do I stay in a job where I dislike the people because I need the money more than my day to day happiness? Or do I leave, and have a happier, but poorer life? Both are valid choices. Both are choices people make all the time.
Some of us decide to maintain relationships with difficult family members because overall there are other benefits, while others decide they’d rather cut their losses and enjoy less stress. Some even stay in abusive relationships because the “pay off” of standard of living, or many other issues are on balance, more important than their physical or emotional safety

Every child has a choice. We are just letting them know that. We are teaching children that they get to choose – and sometimes that choice might mean a short term annoyance of missing out on a favourite activity.Sometimes – they may choose to stay, even if annoyed, because they really want to do that activity. Other times they may choose to leave, and enjoy peace instead.

All we are doing is giving them the ability to make that call.

We are teaching children who would otherwise see themselves as the victim to instead see themselves as someone in control.


About rgoodchild

Parenting and education coach, working primarily with ECE teachers, and parents of 0-8 year olds. Author of 27 published print titles, and a few e books too. Was a freelance writer Mother, business woman, entrepreneur.


2 thoughts on “Why should the WELL-BEHAVED child miss out?

  1. It’s good to see that there is “PD” on this at all.

    After sending my son to an intermediate near you we nearly withdrew him 4 days before the end of his second year for his own safety. Throughout his time there he was offered some counselling but the majority of the resources were directed at the “problem child” and not the child you describe – the one who always has to move away, to deflect and to protect himself. We even had the teacher deliberately putting the bully with my child and creating more stress.

    His sister, when faced with similar problems, inherently knew how not to be a target while still being good and nice – and when she couldn’t she learnt quickly so each problem was only faced once.

    I get your examples but some of our children actually need to be taught to deflect, to minimise, to resolve those conflicts and that no amount of “being good” is going to do it.

    Posted by Sarah King | October 29, 2013, 5:57 pm
    • Hi Sarah

      I agree with all of that.
      I work with teachers of 0-5 year olds – and the strategies change a little as children grow.
      Well done doing all that work to help your own child


      Posted by rgoodchild | October 29, 2013, 6:15 pm

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The Elephant in the Room
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