Young kids are hard to work with. They can’t always tell you what’s going on (neither can older kids, but at least you know that most of them have the ability) or what’s bothering them or simply why they are doing things. They aren’t there yet. This can be particularly frustrating when it comes to those young kids who seem like their far ahead of their peers, quicker, more knowing. When those kids suddenly behave like the young, complicated, frustrating, ridiculous child, that they actually are, you sometimes want to lose your shit on them. Why the hell were they awesome one minute and then a complete tool the next? I’m going to go with “It doesn’t matter.”
This applies to so many kids I’ve met and dealt with over the years, but there’s one in particular who’s prompted this entry. She’s adorable and smart and sometimes really really sweet. She can be thoughtful and caring. She can be an utter asshole. Passively stonewalling her teacher and other professionals, grinding some activities to a halt because she’s decided that it’s not for her or that she’d simply rather be doing something else. It’s sending some people around the bend.
The fact that she’s cute and obviously intelligent really plays against her in these situations. Some people see it and, right away, they’re thinking that she’s spoiled. I get it. The thought passes through my head as well. When her refusal to participate in something, takes an entire activity off the rails, however briefly, the first thought is “She’s getting what she wants. She’s winning!” Followed very quickly by, “We can’t let her win.” The implication being, that if she’s winning, we are losing. It’s a feeling I understand, a feeling I have often shared, It sticks in your craw, it’s a infuriating, to think that some little spoiled five year old has all the power. You’re wrong. She’s five. If you look at it like she’s winning, you’re losing (and wrong). Seriously, roll with it. There are some really difficult little kids, and the passive aggressive ones can be the most frustrating; they aren’t putting anyone at risk, and they’re not damaging anything, they are just refusing to do stuff. How do you reason with that?
If you have to see things as win/lose, please remember, for the love of all that is holy, that you are the adult; in the end you will always win. Eventually. She never ruins the class, unless you let her. She never throws the entire day off, just small moments of it. Sure, kids like her, can often display a stubbornness that is kind of amazing, but a little extra patience and maybe some ignoring, or the opposite, some extra one on one time, can often be the answer.
But what if it doesn’t work? What if she just keeps refusing? Honestly, who cares? There’s no way to force her to do what you want. There’s also very little chance that she’ll be able to look beyond her immediate desire to not do what you want, she’s five. Five year olds are not really wired that way. In the end, she will come around. If she doesn’t, then fucking wait longer. If the end of the day comes, well, then you give her back to her parents. Let them know how the day went and then rejoice that you aren’t going to see her until the next day.
I really do understand how you feel. I’ve felt and hated the feeling that some little kid is beating me. But you’re wrong. There’s no win or lose her. It just is. She (and all the others) are who they are. We work with kids and they are all different and all infuriating from time to time. We just need to roll with what we’re given. If you are getting upset because the behaviour has changed your plan for the day or the moment, well, that’s making it about you and not about them. The other kids will roll with the changes (sometimes), especially if they see that you’re rolling with it too.