In the last two weeks I have had both parents and teachers, reaching out and asking for help with their children at home or in the classroom misbehaving. The children either fight, bite, hit out, shove, pinch or play on their own. These children all range between 2 and 3-years old!
So is something wrong with these children? I would say: no. Unless of course there are other issues involved, like autistic tendencies that is just being noticed and diagnosed by medical personnel. If not the children are just being normal 2-year old’s.
Why do I say this Child development observations have noted that children at the ages of 2 to 3-years go through a period where they think they are the most important person in the world! They want what they want when they want it. The more the society allows children to truly express themselves the more we will find children exhibiting their true nature.
Parents say that, their child does not behave badly at home, well that may be so, mainly because we are not allowing the children to be themselves at home. They go to school where they know if the teacher dares shout or touch them ‘Mummy and Daddy will be breathing down her neck’ so the child unleashes the full force of their ego on the classroom. Mum and Dad are shocked at the bad report, they either think the class teacher, or a child must have done something like bullying etc.The teacher is dismayed and confused and does not know how to curb this little tyrant in her classroom!
Don’t worry there are a few things you can do to help the little one learn to cope with the new changes in his life. I say this because you find that most of the children who exhibit this kind of strong unacceptable characteristics have usually just started school. They have been used to staying home with Mum or grandma, nanny and now they are in a new en environment with other children all of a sudden. Imagine this change is a shock to the child’s system and therefore this bad reaction.
So what can you do to help the little one? I would say:
- Get the child to do an activity that will engage them, something they are interested in. My main activity that does not fail is getting a new child in school to do some sweeping! Sweeping? Yes you read right, sweeping? OK now I am not advocating for your child to now be the school cleaner, but here is the thing, a little activity like this captures the child’s attention. He is no longer wondering why Mum dropped him in this new environment, because he is doing something he had always wanted to do but has never been allowed to. Even if he has been, which nine and a half times out of ten I know he hasn’t, the tools I would give to the child to get this done would be something the child would love to use. He is now engaged, motivated to stay and happy working. The idea of fighting, biting or hitting another child is very far from his mind now. If we keep our new children engaged, they will have less time to create a lot of havoc.
- Another way to help children settle into their new environment is have a routine you follow. Let them know the routine. One thing we need to remind ourselves of is that children actually love order and they do go through a period when order is so important to them. If there is a set routine then they know what to expect. Two year-old’s love repetition so do not despair when they want to repeat activities over and over again or they insist that you read the same story the tenth time over! This is how they learn period, via repetition! So, some of those tantrums are just their way of saying ‘I want to learn, let me learn’.
- Set some ground rule right from the beginning in your classroom if you are a teacher. Simple classroom rules which you would teach at the beginning of the term and introduce to your new children as they join the class. How to carry a chair, how to ask questions, how to play with toys or work the Montessori materials, what to do if someone takes your toy or working materials, how to wait for your turn etc. These are part of a practical life curriculum. Yes the children are young but with a little direction a lot of problems can be avoided.
- When things do go wrong, and they have bitten another child etc. The best thing to do is get the child to calm down before you start lashing out. Once we know that there is a potential for trouble, we need to be watchful and pre-empt the situation, stop it from happening as much as possible. In the Montessori setting we use a peace table. A quiet corner where the child can sit and reflect on what happened.
So a two year old will misbehave, but it is important to understand why they misbehave and also to know what steps we can take to help them overcome the bad behaviors they exhibit, children will change these if we show them how with love.
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