So my church just called me to be a teacher for the 4-year-olds. Four boys, two of whom seem fairly sweet and biddable (at least, y’know, for four-year-old boys), the third of whom is extremely cheerful and also rather high-energy, and the fourth of whom… well, at the low point this Sunday, “Aaron” informed me that I was mean and that he hated me. So any help would be welcome!
“Teaching,” in this context, involves a) preparing a 30-45 minute lesson (which is supposed to involve some simple concept, but at this age probably involves coloring or some other activity-ish thing to keep them busy) which is just me and the boys, and b) supervising them as they’re sitting in a room with about 20 other children, for about an hour. (This was the only part I did last week, and it was the one where Aaron told me he hated me.)
I’m quite worried about this. The last time I taught kids at church, they walked all over me (and they were girls, too!) – it was ten years ago, and I wasn’t a parent then, and am now, and thus have cultivated some methods of discipline, but I’m still worried. Also, I’m around very few four-year-olds, and when I have been, it’s almost never been in a teaching-surrogate-parental-ish role. I feel fairly comfortable with looking after 2-3-year-olds – I’ve looked after up to eight other kids besides my own (with one other adult) most Sundays in the last year, but not 4-year-olds, and I don’t know how they’re different.
With the 2-year-olds I’ve been around, I mostly try to be very patient and consistent with consequences (if the rule is that yelling won’t get you a toy, yelling louder will definitely not get you the toy). I don’t know how to be with four-year-olds except the same way. (Aaron was angry at me because I sat between him and another boy he was poking, and he kept insisting that he needed to sit next to the other boy, and I kept insisting that he had to show me he could sit still quietly first, which apparently was too onerous a demand.)
I know one thing that’s different, I was informed when I was talking to our nanny, is that with two-year-olds I generally can use touch to enforce discipline (e.g., one of our nursery rules is that when you upset a basket you need to pick up the toys in that basket, and I usually have to enforce this by taking the kid’s hand and picking up at least one toy) – and four-year-olds don’t really stand for that sort of tactile control (and get upset when you try). So that’s one thing I know I need to work on.