Primary Problems

I thought the first two weeks of primary went so well because of our new meeting time. As it turns out, the first two weeks of primary went well because my instigator was absent from class.

I’m at a loss of what to do. All of the kids in my class know what it means to be reverent. All of them can tell you that they need to sit in their chairs, listen quietly, not speak out of turn, and pay attention. But for some reason, if the instigator is present, none of them seem to be capable of doing that.

This past Sunday was going well. With only a couple of reminders I was able to keep them in their seats and mostly participating for Singing Time and Sharing Time. When we got to class, that all changed. My instigator decided that he needed to make weird noises, turn around in his chair, hang off his chair, move his chair around, whine about not wanting the Scripture Journal he was given during sharing time, and about a zillion other things to disrupt the class. I tried ignoring it, but that just led to the other kids copying him and me having to quiet down all 5 boys and 1 girl. I tried quickly asking him to sit reverently and getting back to the lesson, but that led to the other kids copying him and me having to quiet down all 5 boys and 1 girl. I tried telling them that I had stuff so they could color when we were done with the lesson. That worked real well for everyone else, but only for about 2 seconds with him, and then he started laughing and that led to the other kids copying him and me having to quiet down all 5 boys and 1 girl. Do you see a pattern here?

It wasn’t my proudest moment, but at the end of the lesson I was so done that I said it was time for prayer and only those who could be reverent would be allowed in the classroom while we said prayer. He, of course refused to even sit right-side-up in his chair, and the other kids were all laughing, so I asked him to sit in the hall so we could have a reverent prayer. I left the door open a crack to make sure he didn’t go anywhere, we said our closing prayer, and then I looked out and saw that he was very disappointed. I asked him if he thought he was ready to be reverent so he could come back and color his picture. He came back in, threw another fit about not wanting the Scripture Journal, and when his big brother came by to pick him up he left the class with a smirk on his face that said he was glad he had made class as miserable as possible for yet another week. It’s the same smirk he leaves with almost every week.

At this point I’m not sure what to do. I’ll most likely be at a funeral this weekend and need to get a substitute for my class, but I’m not sure who to call because I don’t want anyone to have to go through that torture. I would call his parents and ask them to sub just so they can see what he does in primary, but I have a feeling that he would behave differently if one or both of them were there.

Are there any miracle cures for getting a 6-year-old boy to be reverent who seems bent on doing the exact opposite of anything that you ask just so they can get attention? What do you do if giving positive attention first doesn’t help? The only way that would help was if he was the only person in class because the second my attention slips to one of the other kids he’s doing anything he can to get it back. I feel like I have been jumping through hoops every week for the last year trying to find just one thing that keeps his attention and nothing has worked so far. What would you do?

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6 thoughts on “Primary Problems

  1. Anna

    Is this kid just naughty or does he have behavior issues?? We have a special Primary assistant to sit with Isaiah every Sunday. And we told her that some times all you need to do to quite him is take him to the back to color or read a book. And then if things get too bad that a trip to the bathroom or to get a drink was just what he needed to get back to listening. Do you have another teacher that helps you that could sit by him to remind him to be reverent? Just a thought on the other end of things.

    • Jennifer Lavender

      There are no behavior problems or developmental delays that I am aware of, and definitely nothing like what you guys are working with for Isaiah. The few times I have had a team teacher things go slightly smoother because they are able to divert him before the behavior gets too out of hand, but I’m on my own now. I’ve been told that they are having a hard time finding people to serve in Primary so I will likely continue to be on my own. Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. I second Anna’s idea of having a special helper assigned to just him. We have a few kids in our primary who need that. If he doesn’t have any issues though and is just naughty that would probably just make it worse. Here is what I would do:
    1) talk to his parents and let them know abou tthe problems you are having. Ask them if they have any ideas/suggestions.
    2) Let his parents know that you can not let him ruin class for the other 5 kids. Each week he will receive 1 warning. If he does not settle down then he will be taken to his mother or father. Ask them which they’d prefer and where they are each hour.
    3) Let the Primary President know that you have talked to his parents and that this is the solution. Ask for her support in having one of the teachers or a counselor who is currently sitting in singing/sharing time take the boy to his parents if necessary.
    4) Talk to the boy and let him know what the plan is
    5)Follow through. Give him one warning and the first time he doesn’t listen after that send him to his parents.

    I found with Corey that if you give him an inch he’ll take a mile. This little boy “knows” that you can’t/won’t do anything drastic about his behavior. Why should he care if you tell him repeatedly to sit still/be quiet? Doesn’t hurt him at all. You need ot make his behavior a bigger problem for HIM than it is for you.

    Other ideas to help him actually be reverent may be to let him sit on the floor or stand up if he can do it quietly. Let the kids color while you give the lesson as long as they participate and listen. Try to have an many visual aids as you can and only let the quiet kids help you hold/use them.

    Good luck!

    • Jennifer Lavender

      I have never met his parents, it’s always his big brother who comes and picks him up from class. And it seems so awkward to introduce myself with, “Hi. I’m your son’s primary teacher and he is a pain during class.” You’re probably right though, I will likely get my best advice on what works for him from his parents. Must do more thinking on how to approach this.

      • Just call por go over to visit and say “hi, I am your sons teacher in primary. I’ve been having some difficulties with his behavior lately and I was hoping you could help me figure out what I can do to help him.” Hopefully if you approach it form the standpoint of “I need your help” instead of the standpoint of “your kid is a brat!” they’ll just be open and greatful that you talked to them and not defensive. If they get offended or defensive then tell the primary Pres about the problem and let her deal with it. If she doesn’t want to talk to them then just start bringing him to her when he causes problems. She’ll want to do something about it then!

        This boy just really reminds me so much of Corey form your description and it really has been so important to make sure Corey knows that there are INSTANT and CONSTANT consequences for innappropriate behavior. Maybe some sort of chart where you put up stickers for good behavior could help. Even if this boy doesn’t behave better that may get the other kids to not follow suit. With them not immitating him he’d probably be more likely to have good bahavion himself. Have a prize bag with things like pencils, erasers, small toys etc. say for every 10 stickers you earn you get to choose from the prize bag at the end of the lesson. Once everyone has earned 30 stickers I will bring a bigger prize for the whole class. Peer pressure can work wonders!

  3. Anna

    I thinks the sticker thing would work very well. Micah’s Pre-school teacher would do that to kids who had a hard time adjusting in class. After about a month of getting stickers for sitting in there seat and listening and getting a special prize at the end. She didn’t need to do it any more.

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