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Dealing with chatty children as students - what are some of your techniques?

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  • #21
    I've been teaching elementary school/orchestra for 12 years and I'm working on a special education credential. There's nothing wrong with this girl, she's doing this for attention. All teachers get one of these at some point, and yes, they're annoying.

    Stop answering her questions if they're not directly related to what you are doing. If she starts asking you which halter (and you know she's knows), tell her she can't ride unless she finds the halter herself and then ignore her. Taking too long to tack up? Too bad, if it's a group lesson start without her, if it's a private lesson tell the mom that the lesson starts at X time, and if she's not ready she'll lose that time.

    Personally, I'd have a talk with the mother and explain that perhaps the two of you aren't a good match, or something along those lines. There's no reason to keep her, imo.

    BTW, watch how she interacts with her parents. Children like this are very spoiled with attention. They constantly interrupt their parents and the family is focused around them. The mother might seem to be supporting you, but there's no true follow-up at home. The word "spoiled" has fallen out of use, unfortunately, because we're seeing more and more children like this girl (and boy), and it's the parents' fault. Their whole lives are focused on their "little darlings".
    In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

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    • #22
      The "forgetting" how to tack up, or the right halter-does sound like a way to get your attention. She may just not not know a better way to engage you. How about a lot of praise for doing the right thing and no reward (attention) for the wrong thing?

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      • #23
        Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
        You know what?

        I don't think you're the right instructor for this child.

        I understand you want to have a serious program, and that's a good thing.

        However, this kid doesn't fit in. She'd fit in at any number of barns geared toward children. The behavior may not be attention seeking. It may be. Not really your place to diagnose.

        For that age, that is not a simple course.

        And honestly? It's the mark of a poor teacher to blame the student. You're not redirecting, you're asking her to remember, which sounds like it might be a problem for her.

        Redirection is without judgement. It's annoyance free. It's a simple "ok, now lets try that again, but with the two point here". It's, let's repeat that until we get this right.

        Maybe she's color blind, dysgraphic, ADHD, who knows.

        Sorry, but you just don't like this kid, and she deserves an instructor who likes her.
        Exactly. I see her trying to be silly to get your attention, your laughter, and ultimately, your approval. Her actions are innapropriate and your annoyance undoubtedly comes through. How many times have people posted on CoTH about the importance of having a good rapport with their trainer? Yes, the trainer can be demanding, but if you, as an adult, had a trainer who was annoyed with you, the relationship wouldn't last long -- and it shouldn't.

        In the same way, I think you need to acknowledge that you don't like this girl and that you are not getting through to her. I imagine you have other young clients you really click with, so it's no big deal if you have one who doesn't work out. I had this happen one time when I was tutoring math, and I had to tell the mother that the boy didn't respect me and I felt he might do better with a male tutor -- and I recommended someone. We parted ways with no hard feelings and the boy did indeed have a better rapport with his male tutor.

        Another thing I wonder is whether she, like the boy you teach, is frightened and using delaying tactics to avoid riding.

        As far as the boy goes, I think you should acknowledge his fears and reassure him that yes, horses can be scary, and that he is very smart to have fear, because clearly a horse is big and capable of harming us, which is why we use our heads to utilize techniques to outwit them and influence them, and why we take safety measures such as paying attention to the horse's mood and signals, and wearing safety gear. Then let him know that if something is frightening, that you can break it down into smaller increments until he is comfortable.

        What I want to know is how do you handle students who could not care less about horses, but are there because their parents want them to learn to ride.
        "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

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        • #24
          I was this kid, and gosh I am probably likely, okay, I'm still this adult. It's not attention seeking, it's being social awkward, and maybe a little bit on the spectrum. The best thing anyone has ever done with me is go, "Paula, love ya, focus." It helps me re-set.

          I use it on students all the time. "Kyle" I say with a smile, "focus. Good man".

          I guess what's important is that I like my students. I don't take the chatter or the scatter personally -it's part of that person's personality so I accept it and work with it.

          Paula
          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

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          • #25
            The first kid sounds like she is just being silly and a little attention starved. She probably cannot picture what she could be doing in the future. Do you video her lessons? Maybe ask her to ride her best and video it. Then show it to her so she can see herself riding. Maybe recommend a couple of movies/online vidoes for her to watch and compare herself to. It might motivate her and remind her what she is working towards. If you have already done all of this, then I apologize.

            The second kid sounds like he's scared of everything. He needs some more time learning basic horse behavior. Maybe take some time to watch horses in the pasture with him? Explain their interactions and ways they communicate with each other. They might be as foreign to him as wild animals at the zoo. Maybe he would benefit from seeing himself ride as well? Just remind him how far he's come.

            I don't think there's anything wrong with the kids. They sound like typical beginners and a little attention starved. It must be hard teaching kids who have never been around horses.
            “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

            St. Padre Pio

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              OGP, you may be right. I do have a serious riding program and have had one for a long time. I do not require my kids to show, but I do require them to pay attention and focus for their own safety. I don't tolerate **intentional** stupidity very well, so I many have to throw in the towel on this one. I hate giving up on a kid, and I've never had to in the past, but there's a first time for everything.

              That being said, I don't know of many barns with kids who will tolerate her behavior. I've had more than one parent of some of my other students come up to me and tell me "You're a saint for putting up with that girl the way you do!" They see it, too.

              I even had one parent get annoyed with her (because it was her child's lesson that was getting interrupted with her halter game) and say to her, "Can you read?" "Yes..." "Then why can't you read the names on the halter to find the correct one? Stop being stupid!" Amazingly, she did and found the correct halter and was perfect for the rest of the lesson.

              If her behavior was consistent every lesson, then yes, I would say she has a processing disorder (I have had several students who have had processing and sensory disorders, as well as genuine ADD/ADHD and even autistm). But between the calculated behavior when tacking up that disappears every time on those rare occasions when her sister stays and watches, and is hit or miss on other days and the fact that she has days when she nails her lesson skills (and I praise her lavishly when she gets her skill sets correct) on days when she isn't asking stupid questions, I don't think it's a disorder, but a behavior. I know she can be a good rider, because she has days when she IS a good rider. But it's usually 2:1; two annoying lessons to one good one.

              Thanks again for everyone's input.

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              • #27
                My students have their own responsibilities towards their lessons. These responsibilities are appropriate to their ages and stages. If they don't meet them, are deliberately resisting staying on task time and again, and are too wired into the Pay Attention to Me game, I drop them. Parents don't always take it well, but really, they need to be with someone else. This child and your program are not a good fit. Release her and let her go her way. You'll both be a lot happier.
                "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

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                • #28
                  But between the calculated behavior when tacking up that disappears every time on those rare occasions when her sister stays and watches, and is hit or miss on other days and the fact that she has days when she nails her lesson skills (and I praise her lavishly when she gets her skill sets correct) on days when she isn't asking stupid questions, I don't think it's a disorder, but a behavior.
                  Then what are the triggers?

                  What's interesting is that with kids, that can be things like hunger, a hard day at school, a not hard day at school, indoor recess etc. etc. etc.

                  Or a plain old day where Mom isn't giving her whatever it is that she needs. A lot of attention seeking behavior is related to not getting the attention that a kid craves. It's hard to tell without a consistent observation of the behavior. If you want to keep the kid, I'd think hard about what the triggers are, and aren't. There are probably clues there.

                  I even had one parent get annoyed with her (because it was her child's lesson that was getting interrupted with her halter game) and say to her, "Can you read?" "Yes..." "Then why can't you read the names on the halter to find the correct one? Stop being stupid!"
                  That doesn't necessarily extinguish the behavior, it means that when bullied enough the child stops. I'd think long and hard about that tactic, personally. It tends to backfire in the long run.

                  Not saying the kid has ADHD, but just because the behavior isn't consistent, doesn't make it NOT a disorder. I'd hesitate to diagnose anything over the internet (unlike the experts in the thread who feel that they can, which really amazes me, because even the experts in real life depend on extensive testing to diagnose or rule out a disorder...but whatever...) but ADHD is diagnosed based on a percentage of time the behavior presents (and where it presents). It's kind of funny, because when I did the rating scale one of my sons (diagnosed as ADHD) all I could ask was...you mean there are kids who *don't* do this???

                  People with ADHD CAN focus, and even hyperfocus at times. Then they also have times when they are not focused, silly, and even difficult to work with.

                  I have a creative studio (as a job) and I work with people who have "different" biorhythms. Most would be diagnosed with ADHD. There are some days no work at all gets done in the studio. There are other days when a lot does. It's cyclical and has zero to do with discipline. All, as children, were as you've described. Brilliant people, positively brilliant people. Just didn't fit into a traditional program.

                  Again - no armchair diagnosis here. Just saying that there are people who, just like horses, need a different environment to thrive. That doesn't make them wrong, that doesn't make YOU wrong...it's just a different environment.

                  My coworkers would not work well in a factory or an accounting firm, but neither would a factory worker or CPA work in my studio (unless they were exceptional!!!). We've had a few come in, and in general, they don't know what to do unless they are told precisely what the expectations are. They are paralyzed without a serious structure, and our creatives have a different sort of structure.

                  The cool thing about having your own program is that you get to decide how it works. Same thing with a business

                  So - if you decide to keep the kid...
                  Have you broached it with the mom at all? Have you asked her about this kid's "off" days? Maybe she knows what the triggers are. It may be as simple as having something to eat before she comes. Or running around in a circle. Or not having enough boundaries. Or desperately desperately wanting your approval.

                  If you decide to lose the kid - it's okay. No judgement here.
                  Last edited by OneGrayPony; Apr. 12, 2013, 01:00 PM. Reason: Missed a rather critical word

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                  • #29
                    OneGrayPony, no one diagnosed the child, just suggested the possibility of possible traits or tendencies or a line of inquiry that might be explored.
                    If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great

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                    • #30
                      Rally - I was actually referring to the poster(s) who stated that the child definitely did NOT have a condition or disorder.

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                      • #31
                        I think one of the reasons this situation annoys me so much is that I have an AWESOME 10 year old daughter who was doing great in her beginner lessons last year- when the facility which had the riding school changed their program to private facility only- and we were shown the door... kindly and gracefully... but booted none the less. We loved the place and Fiona really clicked with the trainer and their school horses. Since then I have not been able to find a good replacement- I'd give my eye teeth for my daughter to be able to trade places with this kid.

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                        • #32
                          You call it as you see it, whether they are child or adult.

                          That's not what we are doing. We are doing this, and then this, and you had better start NOW! Said with a smile!

                          They are like riding a distracted horse. Just keep changing the program so they must pay attention.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by stonzthrow View Post
                            OGP, you may be right. I do have a serious riding program and have had one for a long time. I do not require my kids to show, but I do require them to pay attention and focus for their own safety. I don't tolerate **intentional** stupidity very well, so I many have to throw in the towel on this one. I hate giving up on a kid, and I've never had to in the past, but there's a first time for everything.

                            That being said, I don't know of many barns with kids who will tolerate her behavior. I've had more than one parent of some of my other students come up to me and tell me "You're a saint for putting up with that girl the way you do!" They see it, too.

                            I even had one parent get annoyed with her (because it was her child's lesson that was getting interrupted with her halter game) and say to her, "Can you read?" "Yes..." "Then why can't you read the names on the halter to find the correct one? Stop being stupid!" Amazingly, she did and found the correct halter and was perfect for the rest of the lesson.
                            Your program sounds like an excellent one and should be valued. This girl and her family don't value what you are doing and offering. By consistently & deliberatly not focusing on the tasks at hand this child is putting herself, other riders AND her horse in danger.

                            I'm a parent of 2 children and have had to deal with sharing lesson time with an attention seeking child. It's frustrating because a child asking off-topic/distracting questions and pulling silly stunts takes away from EVERYONE's chance for learning. I wouldn't be surprised that many of your students' parents are HOPING that you will either let this student go OR restrict her to private lessons. I bet they aren't saying anything straight to your face because they don't want to be asked to leave your program by "rocking the boat" or to speak.

                            Please have a sit down, face to face meeting with this girl and her parents. Outline what is working and what isn't. Suggest what needs to be fixed, otherwise you'll have to let this girl go. Stick to your guns. Your other students and their parents will all appreciate you taking this situation in hand.

                            Just my 2 cents worth..

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                            • #34
                              I got annoyed at this girl just reading the OP....

                              Good luck, let us know how it turns out!
                              "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

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                              • #35
                                I read John Rosemond's parenting books when my kids were young. In one of them, he published a letter from a teacher who was frustrated by one of her students constantly interrupting the lesson with off-topic questions and silly observations similar to what has been described by the OP. It was quite obvious to the teacher the child was seeking attention, but the teacher didn't know what to do about it, and she was being driven batty by the child. Rosemond advised her to make three "tickets" out of construction paper and laminate them. She was to give these to the child at the beginning of the day along with a list of target behaviors (i.e., "asking a question," etc.). The child could interrupt with a question or irrelevant observation only by cashing in a ticket. When the tickets were gone, no more questions. This included things like asking to go the bathroom, etc, so the child had to save tickets. At first, when the child raised her hand or started in with, "Mrs. Teacher...," the teacher would ask, "Susie, do you want to give me a ticket?" If the question was important enough, Susie would. If not, she would have second thoughts and refrain. It didn't take long for the child to learn to control her attention-seeking behavior.

                                I'm not sure if this method would work or not with the child the OP describes, but with some modification, it might be worth a try, especially if the OP has a talk with the child and her mother first. If the child tries one of her attention-seeking tricks, the OP has to take a ticket from her; when the tickets are gone, the lesson has to be over. That's why Mom has to be on board with this.
                                I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Malda View Post
                                  I've been teaching elementary school/orchestra for 12 years and I'm working on a special education credential. There's nothing wrong with this girl, she's doing this for attention. All teachers get one of these at some point, and yes, they're annoying.


                                  BTW, watch how she interacts with her parents. Children like this are very spoiled with attention. They constantly interrupt their parents and the family is focused around them. The mother might seem to be supporting you, but there's no true follow-up at home. The word "spoiled" has fallen out of use, unfortunately, because we're seeing more and more children like this girl (and boy), and it's the parents' fault. Their whole lives are focused on their "little darlings".
                                  I see, teaching elementary for 12 years and doing a special ed credential gives you the ability to definitively say that this kid is just spoiled and has "nothing wrong" with her, even though you have never met this kid and are basing it on one aspect of this child's life, discussed on an internet post. Although I'm sure you also have some medical training to make that diagnosis? Amazing.

                                  I don't typically get riled up at things I read on the internet, but posts like this, especially from someone who should know better, do indeed rile me up. As the mother of a child who looks quite normal, can walk and carry out a conversation, but has a plethora of neurological abnormalities, including several parts of her brain missing, I can say, you don't have a clue and I am extremely thankful that you are not her elementary school teacher.

                                  My daughter can read a repetitive book, with exactly the same words - e.g. "Time for bed, Biscuit" on 5 successive pages, but on the 6th page she hasn't got a clue what those same words are. I can tell her to go and get the blue halter and she'll come back with the red, I say "ehm - the BLUE one!" and she'll come back with the pink - depending on the time of day, the position of the moon, the level of the cedar pollen and who knows what else, her ability to retain that information between the pasture and the tack room can vary wildly. Some days it can be totally fine, other days you wonder what planet she lives on. I'm sure you would find my "little darling" quite annoying too.

                                  My point is - you cannot possibly say that there is "nothing wrong" with this kid. There might not be, she might be a spoiled, attention seeking brat, she might be a kid that has some trauma going on at home and is looking for attention in a more comfortable environment, or she might have an neuro issue that just requires a bit more patience.

                                  The net-net is though, if the OP is not enjoying teaching her she might be better suggesting a different program for her.

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