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No one enjoys disciplining children. And if they do, it’s unlikely that they are yoga instructors. It’s hard to discipline children who aren’t your own. You don’t want to overstep your bounds, discourage the child, upset the parents, or be known as a bad guy.
Unfortunately, sometimes discipline is simply necessary. So how do you know when it’s really time to lay down the law?
As I mentioned in previous weeks, I tend to allow kids more playful freedom than most teachers because I want to encourage them to have fun and to feel comfortable expressing themselves.
When I really get tough, you know that a child has pretty much done one of three things:
(1) Hurt another child. If someone hurts another child either physically or emotionally, I always step in to set appropriate boundaries. Ahimsa–nonviolence–is one of the most important precepts in yoga. Anyone who hurts another child has to sit out of the class for at least one activity.
(2) Become so disruptive that the class cannot continue. Sometimes a child behavior is so out of hand that it distracts the entire class. Or, sometimes, if it’s the “ringleader” of the group who is acting up, the whole class joins in the act. In this instance, I will put the misbehaver (possibly the whole class!) into child’s pose or another meditative pose until order is restored.
(3) Repeatedly or defiantly ignored me. This is rare, but every so often, I will have a child who misbehaves either for attention or to be rebellious. If a child ever challenges my authority as the teacher, I find ways to remind him who is in charge. It is important that as the teacher, the kids always know who is in control.
Children need boundaries and must know that their actions have consequences. It teaches them socialization and behavior skills…in short, it teaches them how to be mini yogis.
And that’s the mini yogis minute tip of the week. Check back every week to learn something new!
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