When children realize that they can always have their way at home, it makes it very hard for them to succeed in the classroom. Tanya knew that when she wanted something that her parents initially said no to, she only needed to throw a temper tantrum and she’d eventually get her way.
Very early in the school year, Tanya wanted to color at the easel, but there were already two children on either side. I told her that she’d have to wait. With that, she flung herself on the ground and started crying and beating her fists on the floor.
As it was early in the year and we didn’t know Tanya well enough yet to know if something else was wrong, I picked her up and tried to soothe her. I explained that she would have the next turn at the easel but in the meantime, she would have way more fun playing with something else while she waited instead of crying. Soon after, one of the children at the easel came over to Tanya and told her that she could take his spot. It was very sweet of him and it certainly calmed her down.
The next time a similar situation happened, we understood that this was Tanya’s behavior when she didn’t get her way. When the sweet boy tried to give in, we told him that while it was very nice of him, this was his turn at the easel and Tanya would have to wait. For the first two weeks of school, Tanya threw temper tantrums several times each week. We began making sure she was in a safe spot where she couldn’t hurt herself or someone else, but we let her cry. Sometimes while she was crying, we’d move on to another activity and Tanya realized that she had missed out on that activity altogether. It didn’t take long for her to recognize that her tears weren’t going to get her what she wanted.
At one point, I asked Tanya if she gave Mommy and Daddy a hard time at home like she was giving us at school. “Yes,” she admitted. “I throw temper tantrums at home all the time.”
“That might work for you at home,” I told her. “But it will not work for you at school.”
It didn’t take long for Tanya to figure that out.