My name is Vlad Truta and I am currently in my second year in Child and Youth Care Counselling at Mount Royal University. I've started my second-year practicum in a grass root organization setting. The kids I am working with range from 3 to 18 years old. I have noticed that at the after school program for children 6 to 13 years old the immediate staff are very relaxed and not strict. Children can be seen screaming, throwing toys, breaking toys and generally misbehaving.
I'm curious to know what would be the right approach to somehow encourage children to behave without undermining staff authority?
Try engaging on a one-to-one play time and then small groups will form to see what is going on, what's the fun and laughter all about. At that point, you command the situation, and you are able to teach them about playing nicely, sharing, and the responsibilities of everyone to cleanup. Be the example, not the authority, respect will all come in due time once your truly connected.
Best of luck, hope this offers some solutions!
Do you work in this program and/or have interactions with these
children? If you do then I would speak to them directly. Ask them why
they're doing that and what purpose it serves them. Generally behaviour
like that means there is a need not being met, and maybe these kids
don't have any other skills to help them meet that need. If you can find
out what the need is and try to teach them other ways to do it. Then
you're both helping the children, and not risking alienating your
coworkers in that program.
Hope this helps.
It looks like it's an issue of program and structure, including the schedule, the activities (what is done within the time frame, the physical setting, and the involvement of the staff in all of these.)
It 'sounds' as if there is no if little structure and as you say,
minimal staff involvement and intervention. It's actually easier to
stand by and watch
the chaos rather than to take hold with a carefully designed program and structure that engages the youngsters and encourages positive behavior.
A structure needs to be set up, e.g. :
• If the youngsters are coming directly from school, what greets them ? Are the staff ready with some age-appropriate, interesting activities ? These would include: arts, crafts, games, outdoors, music, community service projects, etc.
• Is the setting well stocked, and neatly
arranged, with everything in good repair and inviting ? When the
materials are shoddy, pieces missing, etc.
• that is an invitation to misuse them, i.e. throw them around.
• When the youngsters arrive, are they greeted individually by the staff and perhaps offered a snack and the opportunity to talk about the afternoon's program ?
• Is there an opportunity for physical activity, perhaps early on ? If the youngsters have been in school all day, and especially in schools without recess, then this is even more important.
• How are the youngsters grouped for activities ? There's a wide age range between 6 and 13. If the activities are not complex enough at the higher ages, there is not going to be interest in them and that's an invitation for indifference.
• How are the adults assigned to the youngsters ?
If the staff is lumped in a group together with a diverse group of
youngsters, that may not be the best
• way. Some grouping and assigning staff to be in charge of these subgroups may be a better way to engage the youngsters and encourage better behavior.
• Authoritative instruction and guidance in the activities. Many youngsters will get engaged when offered the opportunity to be exposed to new knowledge and skills areas. This takes similar knowledge and skill on the part of the staff. Have they reviewed those activities that they enjoyed as children and the hobbies that interest them now ? This inventory can serve as a basis for developing an activity program that utilizes staff interests and skills – thus engaging them as well the children and youth.