Teaching Young Children: Who Do You Control?

Sometimes people think that young children are not developmentally ready to grasp Restitution concepts.  Wrong!  This awesome lesson was created by Michelle Lachuta, who teaches grade 1/2 at Winnipeg Beach School.

First I read The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends

We then had a discussion around the book and then formed a class meeting focusing on:

  • We cannot control other people
  • The only person you can control is yourself
  • The best you can do is to hope to influence others, but ultimately, what they choose to do is up to them
  • We have the power to choose our own behavior in situations

I came up with a few scenerios:

 What if you are playing with a ball and someone comes up to you and takes it?

What if someone is on the swings and you really want that swing?

We discussed: What kind of person do I want to be in this situation…

  • A caring person/mean person
  • A sharing person/selfish person
  • A confident person/weak person

 I gave examples of what each kind of person may look like.  Then we discussed…. What would a caring/kind/sharing/confident person do when…

We came up with a plan for handling difficult situations:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Take a deep breath and think about what kind of person do I want to be?
  3. Take a deep breath then act on the kind of person you want to be

We ended with:

When we shift our thinking from complaining/tattling/arguing to self reflection (the 3 deep breath steps), it is amazing how many choices and different outcomes are truly available to us.

Michelle shared her thoughts after completing this lesson:

“I did this with my ½ class and it was a very touching “Ah-ha” moment for many of them and myself.  We engaged in some deep conversations about problem solving and being in control of themselves.  As a teacher I am here to keep them safe, guide them, give suggestions and reminders but ultimately it is up to them.  A student asked “What if the other person is not trying to compromise or being respectful?”  I asked  “Who can you control?”  In response another student said “Only yourself, so maybe you just need to walk away if that person is being mean.”  It has been amazing to see how this simple and quick class meeting is now panning out in the classroom!  Students are reminding others that I can only control myself and problem solving together, as well as reflecting what kind of person they want to be.”

Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle!


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