Listening Our Way to Cooperation

There was a five-year-old boy in my Kindergarten group who had been giving little signs of distress for a few days, showing that he was not relaxed. He threw a few toys, hit a few children and showed misbehavior at circle time. He didn’t throw hard or hit hard, but I could feel he did not feel good.

One morning when we were in the corridor, dressing up to go outside, he started swirling his jacket around, hitting a few children by doing so. I took him back into our classroom and told him that we would sit down and wait until there was more room for us to put our coats on. I was actually using this situation to help him to work on his feelings. I was quite sure he wouldn’t like the idea of waiting, and he demonstrated that strongly by trying to run back into the corridor.

I held him back, telling him gently that we would soon go, when there was more room for us there, and he started to cry hard. Tears were rolling down his cheeks, and he tried to run away. After five minutes, he kept on crying, but stopped trying to get away, now fully absorbed by the tensions he was working on. After another ten minutes, he cried more softly, and gently laid his head on my shoulder.

After a few more minutes, he was ready to go back into the corridor. As I opened the door to the corridor, we saw that the children’s shoes that had been left there had shed a lot of dirt, which was lying on the floor. He wanted to clean it all up and make everything look nice. He was smiling joyfully, dressing himself calmly, talking and being so very cooperative.

What a change! I was proud of him, and of myself. During the whole session, I never doubted that we would come to a happy end, and I was comfortable with listening to him the whole time. What a good morning!

–a mother of four and Kindergarten director in France.

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