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School behavior continued

Last week we were looking at the guidelines for teachers towards children. One important point is the attitude towards school reports. When parents are strict, bad reports are a nightmare for the child. Many a child is afraid of taking home a bad report when the upbringing is strict and results in lying and altering the report. The teachers could be aware of such a situation and help the child to recover his confidence. The teacher has to protect the child against the class belief that he is a bad pupil and arouse his interest level again. A great majority of children at school occupy more or less the same position in all the classes they pass through – either at the top, in the middle or the bottom of the class. We should not look at this as a manifestation of intelligence but the limits that these children may have set for themselves, their degree of optimism and the field of their activity. If the teachers can help these children to rid themselves of this myth, they can probably help them perform better. One task for the teacher is to take on the responsibility of the education of the child on themselves. Making the child responsible is just one method to explain away the errors and relax the efforts. Their attitudes and exertions do influence the child and they can really accomplish a lot in this position. The strongest factor in the development of intellectual ability is interest and if interest is blocked through discouragement and the fear of defeat, it can have harsh consequences. Behind very exceptional degrees of ability is found not exceptional intelligence but sustained interest and training. The teacher will be successful in removing the limits that the child has set on himself if she believes that those limits are not fixed. The next task for the teacher is to help the child recognize his personality. The child needs to distinguish different characteristics present in him. The child’s capacity for attention and concentration, the ease with which he can make friends and the distance he keeps from other children are all a pointer towards the personality of the child. A feeling of isolation and self-absorption can make a child not join others in games, a child who is constantly asking for help with his work is showing a lack of independence and a desire to be supported by others. Some pampered children have a great need for attention and can study only if praised or appreciated or do well till they have the attention of the teachers. This characteristic represents a need for a special position. A special case is the mischief monger who disturbs the whole class by being a general nuisance. Reproaches and punishments have no effects; rather he revels in them. The need is to be punished rather than be overlooked and the unpleasantness he brings on himself by his bad behavior seems to him a fair price to pay for the attention he gains. He may also see punishment as a personal challenge; how long he can hold out and he will always win because the outcome is in his hands. The teacher can help to recognize this characteristic. Then there is the lazy child who avoids problems and postpones decisions all the time. For this child it is a fear of failure that can diminish their self-esteem and they defend against it by the attitude – it is only laziness and not lack of ability. This is an ambitious child afraid of defeat. The child never experiences any true feeling of defeat because they never face any real test. He is afraid to be judged on actual accomplishments and looks for a theme of hidden brilliance. Also, he get praised for the least bit of work as everyone is hoping that he is at last started to mend his ways and is encouraged for further improvement even though the same piece of work from an industrious child would not even be noticed. In this way, the lazy child lives on the expectations of other people. There is also the leader of the class. However, leadership has to be encouraged when it is not a leadership in situations where only the child rules and dominates but is a leadership in the best interest of all. The task of the teacher is to recognize these characteristics and prevent the development of habits that lead towards defeat and difficulty in later life.

A major task of the teacher is to be able to know all their pupils intimately or they will not be able to engage their interest and cooperation. This is certainly a disadvantage in large classes where there is scope for the child to conceal a characteristic if the teacher is not vigilant to individual differences and treats the class as an undistinguished mass. This would also bring to the fore another task and that is the behavior towards children who are either very brilliant (these pupils should be guided towards other activities and interests in addition to the tasks of the class; their successes in these activities would also widen the interests of these children) or children who are backward (spending a little extra time with these children and help them to recognize the mistakes they might be making in estimation of their capabilities). The final task of the teachers in that sense is to be able to connect to the parents with the child’s welfare in mind. They can talk to the parents who also have a lot of information to contribute and discuss the child’s problems in detail and chalk out a way in which to help the child. To reproach the child will not help but inviting the child to discuss his problem will certainly make a headway in his understanding it better. No one can understand the minds of the children as well as the teachers who work and play with them. They see so many types of children and if they are skillful, can establish a relationship with each one of them. It rests with them as to whether the child’s early mistakes are allowed to continue or are corrected. Finally, like a parent, they are the guardians of the future and the service they render is incalculable.

Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.

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