Yelling at Kids


Respect. It is something that we as people deserve. It is something that is not often given to a child though. How do you feel when you are not respected? It is not a good feeling. Now process that feeling through the perspective of a child.

I have been substitute teaching the last few months. I come home day after day with the same surprised reaction. I have been told multiple times, in multiple grades, in multiple schools that I am a nice teacher. That may not surprise you, because I am a pretty nice guy. The reason they tell me that is what surprises me though. “You are a nice teacher because you don’t yell at us.” One boy said I was nice because I didn’t even raise my voice when talking to him.

That surprises me. It is hard to find a set of circumstances that warrant yelling at a child, especially in a school setting. But I sit back and listen. Sometimes I can hear a teachers raised voice from 3 classrooms over. I have had a few students in the last few weeks that I took into the hall to talk to. I didn’t yell, I talked. One student in particular was yelling and ready to fight. After a calm discussion, speaking to him, and showing him respect, he calmed down and became respectful, to the point of calling me sir! He returned to the class and did not have any other issues the rest of the class.

I have seen other teachers respond by yelling. Which do you think is the easier way to calm a student? By calmly talking or by getting in their face and screaming back? It amazes me the level some adults will drop to in trying to handle a situation. Funny thing is, I have yet to see their approach be effective.

Is it hard to believe why the student does not have or show much respect to the teacher? My experience has been that I am often showed respect when I show respect. Children are people too. They deserve respect. They can tell if you genuinely like them or not, and will often act accordingly.

Being in children’s ministry has similarities to being in a school setting. We deal with kids, and we know that all kids deserve respect. That being said, how can you show a child respect?

Here are few quick things I can think of (in no particular order)
1. Listen to them–you may be surprised at what you hear. Their behavior is often a direct result of what happened the night before or that morning at home. Sometimes they just need to talk.
2. Get down on their level. Talk with them, not at them or down to them.
3. Care about them. If you took time to listen to them, you would quickly realize that it is possible not many people actually care about them. Kids can tell if you care (or don’t).
4. And the one I have recently learned: Don’t yell at them.

Do you have a hard time getting respect from your kids? Is respect earned or demanded? Are there other ways you can show a child respect? Is there a situation that yelling at a child is appropriate? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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2 Responses

  1. Ron, great advice for the classroom, Sunday school room, and/or home. When I worked in special education we showed our kids respect by offering them appropriate opportunities to make choices…give them some say-so over their environment.
    Why? Because the majority of research in the area of people w/special needs indicates that people spend more time telling them what to do than asking them what they’d like to do…a lack of respect.

    • Good point. Too often the ‘adult’ feels it is their responsibility to give the orders, when it could be a much more respectful environment by giving a few options. The opportunity to make a choice is a great way to show respect.

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