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Time out—Penalty!!

So it was my rotation this Sunday again to teach the little ones at Children’s Church. I’m now teaching 5 and 6 year olds, who are lot more aggressive and active. Undoubtably there is one child who is the instigator and the aggressor…Cameron. Every time I see him I groan internally.

When I was just a teacher’s aide, Cameron is the child I would sit next to in order to make sure he knew he couldn’t get away with bad behavior. He even threatened to bite a teacher one morning when I was helping. It was then that I picked a spot by him each morning.

Now that I teach, there aren’t many helpers to aide in class…and I have Cameron to deal with and the other kids he riles up. So far in the last few months, he’s either been tame or not attended. BUT Sunday was another story. There were 3 trouble makers at one table making the most irritating noises, which left it unable to get a teaching environment going.

I separated the problem children, but Cameron enlisted the boy next to him into his aggressive behavior. Most of the class, I got him involved so it wasn’t an issue…but after 35 minutes he got really anxious. He started jumping on his chair and flying off onto the ground. I put him in a ‘time-out’ in the corner. This is something I’ve never had to do in the year I’ve been volunteering, and I felt bad doing so…but his behavior wasn’t going to fly with me.

Cameron quietly read for a good 5 minutes. It seemed to be the only thing he did respond too, so I’m thinking I’ll put him there from now on! The only bad part is when I let him go back to his seat, he ended up hurting another child. The little boy that was sitting next to him tripped over Cameron, who stuck out his chair to jam into his friend. It hurt him bad enough that he cried. I was consoling this little boy, Tyler, when all the parents started lining up to come claim their children.

I told Tyler the only thing I could without crossing any lines. First I told him how sorry I was that he was hurt and upset. I put my arm around him to give him a small hug. The lesson this Sunday was over ‘peace’, so I asked him if he remembered how to keep peace in his life. He tearfully nodded…and I went on to tell him that another way to have peace in his life is to make wise choices about who our friends are in life. Some friends will bring us peace, and some will bring us stress. I told him next time to sit next to someone who wouldn’t hurt him.

Cameron was out in the hall. Tyler proceeded to march out side in the hall, leaving me and his dad in the class room. He stood there and stared angrily at Cameron. I did the only thing I could do without offending Cameron’s dad. I quietly walked outside in the hall, squatted in front of Cameron, and asked him if he thought he should apologize to Tyler. Cameron looked at his feet and nodded his head yes. He then walked across the hall and apologized. I was very proud of Cameron and Tyler for confronting how they felt.

I think all in all they both ended up okay, but Cameron’s dad was clueless to this whole situation which makes me wonder what kind of discipline he receives at home.  I just pray that I’m able to come up with a positive way to handle this child in the future.  Any teachers or counselors out there that have any pointers???

11 thoughts on “Time out—Penalty!!”

  1. I think you handled it very well. 5 to 6 year olds are very difficult sometimes, especially the boys. You are probably right that there may be little discipline in the home. I find this all the time as I taught 1-5 grade at church for many years. If it continues, you may need to at least tell the dad, that his son was a “bit disruptive”. You can say something like ” I don’t know if he is feeling well today, he seemed to be very agitated and wouldn’t really get along with the others.” That might be a way to break it to the dad. Let us know how it goes in the future.
    Mack Goodman Come read my blog.

  2. I used to teach Sunday School way back, and we had a rule that the pastor had set up. If a child was just out of hand, we were then authorized to take the child back into the sanctuary and they can sit with their parents, or have someone call the parents to remove the child from the SS class.

    This usually worked, because then the parents can reflect on their childs behavior and discipline methods.

    The parents become embarrassed because their child is removed from SS, and it causes them to reflect on their discipline methods.

    Blessings to you!

  3. I think you handled it really well! I don’t think teaching sunday school is my gift, so I admire anyone who can do it!


    angela 🙂

  4. Yvette, thats an idea that I will ask if it can be implemented. Thank you.

    And Angela, we all have our gifts. After this last Sunday, I’m wondering if teaching isn’t one of my best…I don’t know how well I do it. Most Sundays I feel very inadequate, but if I don’t do it…there aren’t many standing in line to replace me. So I feel it’s not my gift but my duty none the less. Thank you both for stopping by!

  5. Just another point of view…
    My son was acting up A LOT at preschool and we had no idea it was going on. The teachers didn’t tell us for over a month and he’s always fine for us at home. Well, not ALWAYS, but most of the time. He certainly doesn’t do the things he does at school. Once we found out, we’ve been working with the school and trying to figure out the correct method of discipline. Maybe that Dad wasn’t aware…either that or he is oblivious!

  6. Thanks Momofali. I had thought about pulling his dad to the side to visit a few seconds with him, but didn’t know if I should. Next time his child is an issue I will.

    Terri, trust me my patience was thinning! I enjoyed giving him that time out…immensely.

  7. oh girl!
    i went to guatemala in november (pics on my blog) to give a conf. to children’s ministry workers.

    i get you babe and i think it does take extra grace and patience to do this well.

  8. It’s funny but not so funny… I’ve worked with youth for several years and they didn’t behave much better. I remember one group I worked with…the first meeting I attended there was a fist fight at youth group!! I couldn’t believe it! Once I became involved we had more rules but also more peace.

    One solution, get the parents involved. They should know how their children are behaving….

    Sounds like you handled it like a pro.

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