Respect. It is something that we as people deserve. It is something that is not often given to a child though. How do you feel when you are not respected? It is not a good feeling. Now process that feeling through the perspective of a child. I wish certain people would stop yelling at kids and start showing them respect. It may surprise you who I found out was doing the yelling.
I was a substitute teacher for a few years. Day after day I would come home with the same surprised reaction. I was told multiple times, in multiple grades, in multiple schools that I am a nice teacher. That may not surprise you, because I am a pretty nice guy. The reason they tell me that is what surprises me though. “You are a nice teacher because you don’t yell at us.” One boy said I was nice because I didn’t even raise my voice when talking to him.
Alternative to Yelling at kids
That surprises me. It is hard to find a set of circumstances that warrant yelling at a child, especially in a school setting. But I sit back and listen. Sometimes I could hear a teachers raised voice from 3 classrooms over. I have had a few students that I took into the hall to talk to. I didn’t yell, I talked. One student in particular was yelling and ready to fight. After a calm discussion, speaking to him, and showing him respect, he calmed down and became respectful, to the point of calling me sir! He returned to the class and did not have any other issues the rest of the day.
I saw other teachers respond by yelling. Which do you think is the easier way to calm a student? By calmly talking or by getting in their face and screaming back? It amazes me the level some adults will drop to in trying to handle a situation. Funny thing is, I have yet to see their approach be effective.
Is it hard to believe why the student does not have or show much respect to the teacher? My experience has been that I am often showed respect when I show respect. Children are people too. They deserve respect. They can tell if you genuinely like them or not, and will often act accordingly.
Being in children’s ministry has similarities to being in a school setting. We deal with kids, and we know that all kids deserve respect. That being said, how can you show a child respect?
A Bit of Advice: Stop Yelling at Kids
Here are few quick things I can think of to help show respect to kids (in no particular order)
1. Listen to them–you may be surprised at what you hear. Their behavior is often a direct result of what happened the night before or that morning at home. Sometimes they just need to talk.
2. Get down on their level. Talk with them, not at them or down to them. I often will kneel to get to their level, and look them in the eyes.
3. Care about them. If you took time to listen to them, you would quickly realize that it is possible not many people actually care about them. Kids can tell if you care (or don’t).
4. And the one I have recently learned: Don’t yell at them.
Do you have a hard time getting respect from your kids? Is respect earned or demanded? Are there other ways you can show a child respect? Is there a situation that yelling at a child is appropriate? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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You could yell TO them – like “Get off of those train tracks!!” But I think of yelling AT them as involving anger, and that never goes well.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
This is exactly a strategy used in high-intensity situations when trying to calm down someone who is possibly violent: speak to them softly, in fact, so softly that they have to lower their voice to hear you.
Also – I wonder to what degree our cultural heritage plays into this. I am someone who normally speaks at a low volume, but some people seem to normally speak at a high volume. They seem surprised when I comment that they seem to be yelling at me – they think that is normal volume!