Social Question

vampmoore's avatar

School children want me to be mean to them?

Asked by vampmoore (445points) June 3rd, 2010

I work at a school part-time. My job requires me to be part babysitter, part teacher.
My problem is that sometimes they simply do not listen to me. Their teachers ask them to do something simple (like line up) and they do it no problem. When they are asked by me, its like pulling teeth.
After a few months of this, I asked them why they wouldn’t listen. their reply was, “You’re nice to us, and other people are mean”
I never in a million years expected that answer. They act out because I am too nice? I thought I was being pretty fair, not letting them get away with much, but not punishing them for every little small offense.
I dont want to be the mean lady, but I dont want to continue to be disrespected by kids either. I thought I had found a balance but apparently not.
Any suggestions?

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24 Answers

perspicacious's avatar

Maybe you don’t understand what kids mean by nice. That means they can get away with things with you. Best you change that.

poofandmook's avatar

I think, in their kid way, they were saying that they know they can walk all over you because you are soft. Not mean/nice necessarily.

So be stern. Not mean, but stern. Make it clear that your instructions are just as important as the teachers and the same consequences apply if you aren’t followed.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

You need more practice with your bullwhip. They’re using you as a doormat.

vampmoore's avatar

I simply do not have the authority to punish them as their teachers do.

Cruiser's avatar

You are being paid to do a job and that is to teach and manage these kids. Put yourself in their shoes…they are in school and they expect teachers to teach and manage them and certainly don’t ‘expect’ nice teachers to be their friends. They expect discipline and respond accordingly to what they expect. They don’t expect nice and fun and you are thusly played by these kids taking advantage of your leniency.

I feel you can be fair yet firm but in the end firm and strong and even mean at times is what the kids will respond to and respect the most.

If you can’t apply the same authority as their teachers your only option then is to threaten to call in a heavy and follow through on that “threat” to show them there is little to no wiggle room in their out of line behaviors.

Silhouette's avatar

No they want to continue to laugh and blow raspberries in your face when you ask them to do something, it’s fun.
Like the others have said, you can be nice and still be firm. When you tell them to do something tell them once and expect them to do it. Set realistic consequences for failure to follow your rules and never drop the ball. You want respect from these little boogers you are going to have to be consistent and immediate when doling out their consequences.

vampmoore's avatar

thats just it, the consequences aren’t very high and anything new i come up with just gets old after a while. when told the punishment, the kids go, “thats easy’ or shrug their shoulders. even when i try to go to a higher power or a parent, they undermind what im trying to do. im only a lowly instructor. it is very frustrating.

Trance24's avatar

When your too nice they can walk all over you is what they are saying. By knowing that you are not going to punish them they are not afraid to disobey you.

vampmoore's avatar

i DO punish them, acoording to what i’m allowed. they just dont care about the punishment

Silhouette's avatar

@vampmoore “That’s easy shrug.” is child speak for “I’m not embarrassed because I have to stand in the corner, these aren’t tears, I have something in my eye” it’s a lot of false bravado for most kids.

The most important thing to remember is kids can smell your frustration from a mile away.

BoBo1946's avatar

I was once was a coach and teacher….first few weeks of school, never be nice…not mean, but not nice! ...a mean look without saying anything usually works (for most kids)!

vampmoore's avatar

@BoBo1946 maybe thats where i went wrong… the kids seemed shocked everytime they get in trouble and i punish them

BoBo1946's avatar

@vampmoore yep, if you start off easy and then try to “tighten up,” they will hate you…you were their friend and now look…maybe hate is too strong…dislike would be a better word. After you get them under control, then it is easy….then, you can have lots of fun with them, but they know when you mean business!

Cruiser's avatar

Hah! You just reminded me of the days when I was a den leader for Cubscouts. Once a week I was supposed to instruct kids who really just wanted to goof and have fun so I can empathize with you there. I still had tasks to complete that were often tedious and even boring. I made it work by offering choices of activity and fun or just activity. Of course the kids chose activity and fun which was a game or run around time. So if the task was disrupted by out of line kids I would stop the activity and threaten to penalize the whole group from no fun. The kids ended up policing themselves when other kids started to break bad. Good luck!

vampmoore's avatar

@Cruiser they just hate me more when i punish the whole group. i’ve actually been thinking about changing that because i do that alot. some kids dont deserve it, i have some really good ones

Pandora's avatar

The idea is that you are trying to be their friend. They will not respect you for that. You may not have the same priviledges as a teacher but you can rectify that by doing two things. Get to know the teachers in the next class. Preferably the ones with the reputation of being harsh. Ask them if you may call on them when things are out of control. Knowing you can pull in another teacher who may know some of the worse student may help.
And the second thing you can do is promise to write every infraction done by each student and follow through with giving their teacher news of what they did wrong.
Once in a while I use to babysit a class and I would simply let it be known how well I knew their teacher. And if they didn’t want certain things coming out when I spoke with her that they have best behave because I wasn’t going to lie or cover for anyone who is not doing what she expected. I also told them that she said that for each infraction the student did in class that she would deduct points their grade. (of course it wasn’t true but they didn’t know that) It worked like a charm. They would behave and do the assignment left behind for them to do.
Of course it helped that she was a very firm teacher.

jazmina88's avatar

I was too nice to teach school. I left after 5 years.

CMaz's avatar

Cruel to be kind, in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind, means that I love you
Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m thinking maybe you just weren’t cut out for that type of work. Perhaps you could find a different assignment that doesn’t require you to work directly with the children. Some people have a talent for that sort of thing, and some people don’t.

I apparently have what I choose to call the voice of authority. When I tell children to do something – they do it. Once I took a carload of children to a park. When it was time to go, a couple of them didn’t want to leave. I said ”Get in the car right now” in a very loud voice. People all over the parking lot started looking for a car to get in.

Pandora's avatar

Oh, one more thing. I would also reward them by playing games if they finished there class work early and they would play in groups. Usually I would ask the class clown (usually the leader in the class) to assign groups. Of course only if he or she was on their best behavior. Most love the feeling of authority.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I can only teach adults. The classroom drama of children and adolescents is too much for me.

flo's avatar

Nice but firm, that’s what they say is the ideal. You just have to learn the firm part I guess.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

What @BoBo1946 wrote is priceless. Develop the best poker face you can, give the kids something to figure out, to work for, make them perform for you instead of you putting all your cards on the table for them.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t think the opposite of ‘too nice’ is ‘be mean’ – more like be more assertive. When you want them to line up, say “OK, who will be first in line?” and they will run over. Figure out tricks that can help you keep the order. On the playground, we used to use a whistle.

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