11 January 2007

To Treat or Not To Treat

Last night I was the guest teacher of fourteen 8-11 year old girls from church. We had the meeting at my house since it's easier to SHOW organization than explain it (to me anyway). As they entered my home I asked them to kindly remove their shoes (if you're an adult I don't ask you to) then have a seat in the living room. A few ran right downstairs another few over to my kitchen counter and a handful listened and sat on the couch. We rounded them up and I explained what was expected of them while at my house: we have original artwork so be careful and do not touch or lick (you never know). We started in the kitchen where I showed them our candy buckets (there are 2.5 large containers of pretty-much every candy known to man) and said, "If y'all behave, then you get to have a treat out of the bucket and the best behaved gets first pick." Throughout the lesson, as we toured my house and I explained ways to organize, there were some down-right unruly girls that thought they had to entertain everyone. They talked over each other and me, opened drawers to see what was in them, touched stuff, ran around and jumped into a bed - under the covers (there were 3 of them that did that). By the time we got to the basement, I about had enough of little girls. To be fair, not ALL of them were horrendous, but the ones were so much so that it was difficult to notice the girls who were behaving. Time was not up yet but I was. As they gathered onto the couch and quieted down a titch I went into my spiel about how shocked and amazed at how disrespectful, rude and obnoxious most of them had been. Silence. A few squealed that they were being good (of course they weren't the ones REALLY being good because the ones REALLY being good wouldn't say that). A couple gave excuses why they were naughty (she started it, I'm never like this at home or at school, we always act like this). The good girls sat doe-eyed staring right at me. Then I told them that there will NOT be any treats from me tonight because they didn't deserve it. Squawk. Squeal. "But you TOLD us we'd get to have treats." Yes, I did but I also said you have to behave in order to get some. "You already went through the trouble to make them so we should get to at least take one home." Um, no. You're not getting rewarded for acting so rude. "What if we behave right now, then can we have some." No. You are NOT getting any treats tonight. So stop asking. "Well, you should at least give treats to the girls who didn't misbehave." Nobody is getting treats; you ruined it for everyone.

I seriously was beside myself with their behavior. Seriously.
I tried to finish what I had to say, asking them questions about their rooms and what to do with all their stuff and THEN they tried to behave acting all sweet. At the very end I told them that even though I was flabbergasted at their behavior I still loved them and because I was upset with how the evening turned out I still think they're great people but that they have some behavior issues to work on. I told them that hopefully they'll remember that it was a bummer they didn't get treats and next time they'll be better behaved. So tonight I went to the 7 girls' houses that WERE well-behaved and told their parents in front of them that I was thankful they were so nice to have over and it wasn't fair the naughty girls spoiled it and I gave them a treat as a thank you for their good behavior. One of the parents that came to pick up her 2 girls got a report of how her girls behaved and she was thankful to know that. I don't think every mother would've agreed with my solution. What would you have done?


This is me said...

I probably would have given them the treats anyway because I didn't want to be the bad guy or upset/offend anybody.

And I would have HATED myself for it.

Way to stick to your guns! Those girls got exactly what they deserved--nothing. I am going to apply this great lesson and example to my life with my 3.5 year old starting now. Thanks for the inspiration. Kids need consistency and follow through and that's just what you gave them. Hopefully, they will remember the lesson.

~j. said...

I don't know what I would have done; I'm working at not being such a pushover. But I think you did the right thing. You explained the expectation and the reward, and you followed through. Now they know what to expect from YOU. And *bonus* for giving props (and treats) to the parents in front of the girls for the good behaviour. That's golden.

Lyle said...

I think you handled it well. I can't say that I would have done any different. Bad behavior should not be rewarded...sometimes it is necessary to use "it only takes one to spoil it for everyone else" approach. Kudos for following up and giving the good girls a treat in front of their parents [the next day].

I am often amazed at the lack of respect some kids have for other people's property.

b. said...

Uggghh! The very INSTANT someone jumped UNDER my covers, the tour, the lesson, all of it, would have been OVER.
Like a weenie, I would have doled out the treats and said, "Time to go." and not another word.....except in my head.
YOU are amazing. YOU did great. I wanna be like YOU. Boys are easier.

cazmom said...

I would have done the EXACT same thing, Shan. After teaching 10-year old primary girls for 5 years, I have no fear of telling them straight to their face what they need to hear. I love how you took the time to drive to all 7 of the good girls' houses and talk to them. That was the perfect thing to do. And the bad girls will hear about it and feel bad about how they acted. I can't believe they jumped in your bed.

threewinks said...

I am impressed. I probably would've given in. I think it's awesome how you treated them -- cool-headed and like adults. And way to reward the ones who were good. I'm sure all of those girls will think twice about how they behave next time :D

wendysue said...

I think you handled things great.

In fact, one situation came up in our ward. One teacher got stuck with two classes (12/13 and 14/15), and they were horrendous. The teacher actually walked out and found a member of the bishopric to say that she was not going back in there. The other teacher that had to be gone that day, called all the parents to say what had happened and arranged for all of the kids to meet at her house. . .they would be making dinner to take over to the teacher that had to leave the classroom.

I think kids get away with way too much, and need to be called on it more often. I think they also need to be "caught with good behavior" more often.

Good for you.

compulsive writer said...

I once had the responsibility for 24 12-14 year-old girls, five of whom were especially pieces of work. One day I was attempting to teach and things got out of control so I politely but firmly handed the book to on of the fab five and told them was done with them for the day and she needed to finish the lesson and then I walked out. It made a difference the rest of the time I was with them, but mostly because they already knew I cared about them.

Sometimes, especially in this crazy mixed-up world in which we live kids are just begging for some boundaries. It never hurts to show them that you mean what you say.

AzĂșcar said...

I would have done (almost) exactly the same thing. I probably wouldn't have put up with the rudeness in the middle of my presentation though.

Did I tell you that J used to make his 11 year olds run laps around the church?

My favorite part is this: "What if we behave right now, then can we have some." Why do they always say that?

Geo said...

It's hard to say just how I would have handled it, but since hearing your perfect response I know how I would want to handle it--just like you! I doubt I would have made it as far as you did with your presentation.

I walked out on a really wild Primary class once too, when I was still a teenager. I like c-dub's solution of handing over the manual.

I have to teach on Sunday. Maybe I'll get to try out some of these tricks? (Knock on wood.)

P.S. I want to say how great it was to meet you today except I know you want to meet for the first time next time!

Bek said...


That age is the hardest in my opinion. I dread it. I live in fear of my daughter being one of
"those" girls. I think that you handled it the way tha I would like to think I would (but who are we kidding, no one would ever be touring my house as a demonstration of organization....). I think that "ruining" it for the whole class has a bigger impact than just the stinkers going without. The peer pressure of that can be huge. I love that you gave the good girls praise in front of their parents and gave them a treat anyway. This is wonderful because it reinforces the right kind of behavoir.

Good Job.

As a parent I would be HORRIFIED if my kid acted that way and would want to know without a doubt. I don't believe in NOT telling parents how their kids are doing. I trust that others will tell me. I know that they won't be good all the time, but I need the help of others to know what to work on. The only exception is when you are watching the kids of a mom that doesn't often get to leave them and is reluctant to do so. In that case, no matter how many hours the baby screamed... it was all "just fine". :-)

c jane said...

Fourteen girls is way too many to handle at an activity. If this was a perfect world, you would've had another leader with you. In Young Women it is mandatory to have two deep leadership, just so things like this don't happen.
Shannon, the best part of this story is that you rewarded the girls who deserved the reward. Thanks for doing that, and thanks for reporting.

Lucky Red Hen said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement. My MIL told me a story about 8-10yr old scouts. The teachers would bring licorice ropes and hang them on the wall labeled with each boys name. As they misbehaved, the teacher would eat a piece of the licorice and say "thank you" to the kid. After a couple bites the kids got the hint and didn't want their candy eaten (packs of gum, M&M's, Starburst, etc.).

Rebekah said...

Good for you Shannon! You did the right thing! Those bratty little girls needed a good kick in the pants. Sadly enough though...I was one of those bratty girls when I was that age! I was obnoxious, loud, disrespectful....and now when I see girls acting like that I want to give them a beating.

Miriam said...

I'm hard-core serious with my violin students, though I reward them lavishly for steps in the right direction and try to show them how to enjoy self-respect. I'm always surprised how much they come to like that system.

It's funny how boys get the bad rap. I think because I always felt on the outside of that naughty girls-clique I might have been bad to try to be one of them. It especially irks me to see that side of kids now. That sense of entitlement (begging to do give a luke-warm, too-late effort to coerce an undeserved reward) is everywhere, isn't it? Just look at the way people drive...

I agree with Bek, I would VERY much want to know if it was my girl, and I would love you stopping by with a reward the next day. Bah to grubby rude girls in your sheets!

Julie said...

Okay, I'm late joining the posting, but I think you handled it perfectly. No way should you reward bad behavior. They knew the rules and they made their decisions. I would have tried to handle it the same way if I had been you, but then again, no group of girls would be touring my home for ideas on organization.

I'm appalled that the girls would climb INTO your beds! That's just gross. Their parents definitely needed to be made aware of that kind of behavior.

Way to handle it, Shannon. You are a pro.