The kids are screaming, the house is a mess, and you’re trying not to lose it. Sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times my classroom was just like this. (Yes, even Montessori classrooms are like this sometimes, especially in the beginning of the school year.) Don’t worry, there is hope! Here are a few tips I found helpful for maintaining peace and order when thing seemed to be getting out of control.
Your kids (or students) feed off of your emotional energy. As tempting as it may be to lose it, the best thing to do when things are crazy is to take a few deep breaths. This will send oxygen to your brain, relieve some of the stress, and allow you to think more clearly. I know this is difficult to do in the heat of the moment, but it will help, I promise! I found the times I let the stress get to me the classroom fell apart, but when I remained calm in the midst of chaos the children ended up happier, as did I. If your kids see you breathing deeply when you are upset, there is a good chance that they will start to imitate you and learn good habits for the future.
2. Offer Choices
Offer two good options, and allow the child to choose between them. For example–if you need to clean and the child doesn’t want to help, offer two choices for items the child can put away and have them choose one. This allows the child to feel like they have a say, but gives them specific things to choose from. It’s important to note that not cleaning up was not a choice. Sometimes your child might want to do something that you didn’t offer, gently remind them that it wasn’t one of the choices. However, If it is a good alternative, allow them to choose it. It shows that they are able to think for themselves.
Offering choices also works in other situations as well. “Would you like to talk about why you are upset, or do you need some time alone?” “Would you like to put on your pajamas or brush your teeth first?” “Would you like to choose this math activity or read this book?”. In each of those cases, the child has the freedom to choose between good options.
3. Prepare Their Environment
Take a look around your environment. Is it cluttered? Are the spaces for where toys and things are put away obvious? A cluttered, messy environment can be stressful for kids (and adults, too). Take a look at my post titled “What A Mess!” for tips on how to create a clean, uncluttered, and calming environment for your kids. It will help you be happier, too!
Although I slipped many times, I found that when I used these tips in the classroom, the children and I were both much happier and the class ran much more smoothly. Good luck in your journey!