“Would you like to hold my pocket?”
This is a technique we use in our schools that is very effective. As a parent or visitor of the school, you might see one or more children walking around with a teacher with their hand in the pocket of the teacher. Both teacher and child can be successful with this method of discipline in the classroom or playground. It in no way harms the child nor humiliates them in any way. The child is right there with the teacher who can continue to work with other children, therefore, the misbehaving child is also not monopolizing the time of the teacher as well. Many times, a child will only have to hold the pocket of the teacher once. The next time she gives him a choice to either correct behavior or hold the pocket, they generally correct the behavior.
Here is how we use “holding my pocket”
When a child has made a poor choice: Give the child the opportunity to correct is the most important thing. Below conversation between Johnny and his teacher
Teacher: “Johnny, please sit properly in circle”
Johnny does not listen
Teacher:”Johnny, please sit properly in circle or you may hold my pocket”
Johnny either corrects behavior or not. If he does not immediately
Teacher: “I see you have chosen to hold my pocket”
Have Johnny stand up and hold your pocket. Only do this for one minute or less. If he refuses to hold your pocket, gently hold his hand, be sure to be at his level, so if he drops to the floor, you are not pulling on him. You might say Johnny, you are going to hurt yourself, please be careful” Wait until he is ready to hold your pocket. If this becomes a battle of the wills, wait it out. Eventually if you are consistent, he will hold your pocket. Tell Johnny, “hold my pocket for the count of 5” Then show him on your fingers what that means. Once he on his own holds your pocket, count to 5. Then ask him if he is ready to return to the group. (If this is distracting to the group, quietly move away from the group of children.)
The next time Johnny challenges one of the ground rules of the group, you can quietly ask him “Would you like to hold my pocket”? He likely will correct his behavior on his own.
Consistency is the key with this method of discipline; the key is positive reinforcement of the correct behavior
About Colleen Noll
Executive Director of Calaveras, Crescent and Main Street Montessori Schools all located in Milpitas, Ca. Colleen is a formally trained AMS Montessori Teacher and worked in Montessori Education since 1992. She personally oversees the 3 Montessori Schools, which serves Infants through Kindergarten age. For over 13 years, her Motto has been “Children First, Always”.