Today was one of those days when one of our 4 year-old group kids was really having a very bad day. Well, to be truthful, he has been having a lot of bad days lately and the strategy he has decided to employ is to just say, “No” to EVERYTHING. Although none of his peers or teachers particularly like this strategy, one has to admit – it is effective. Suddenly, teachers become very engaged in trying to find a way to bring him back to the group. We offer alternatives, to which he says, “No”. We set “if/then” behavioral expectations, to which he says, “No.” Pretty much no matter what we try to do to get the group back on track without leaving him completely out, he sabotages with one simple word. As I said, very effective for him – not so much for the rest of the group.
So we knew that playing tag is his weak spot. It is really hard for this little guy to say “no” to tag, so we pulled him back in with that trusty lure, and then… we told the kids that they were each to contribute one part of the tag game. No surprise our little nihilist started right in with his favorite response. It was then that we introduced a new rule – ONLY SAY “NO” ONCE. We started around the circle again asking kids to share ideas (“how ‘bout…”) and then each of the kids could respond with thumbs-up or thumbs-down. As expected, our friend was thumbs-down on the first idea, which was going in the tent once you get tagged (an idea that he normally loves by the way). I said to him, “Do you really want to use your ONE “no” now with three more ideas to come?” Kind of a tricky concept, but this little guy is quite bright and he got it. His little thumbs-down slowly turned to a thumbs-up. The same with the next idea shared, and by the third idea – he had forgotten about “no” and remembered how much fun it was to play tag with his friends. Whew!! Another lost group averted.
by Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP