Last week I wrote about an activity to help kids understand that it is not affable to purposely annoy or bother our friends. We may think it’s fun but they do not. This week Meghan and I tried to concretize the concept by using actual buttons.We asked the kids in the 2nd grade group to recall their friend’s buttons from the previous week. The first step in not annoying others is to learn and remember what annoys them. Surprisingly, the kids quickly stated each other’s buttons with better recall than I could claim.Secondly, we explained that we needed to practice playing and working together while being respectful of each other by NOT pushing buttons. We prepared a mancala game board with the first initial of each child place in one of the mancala board pits. We placed a handful of buttons in the larger pit at the end of the board. The kids were told that a button would be placed in their pit if one of the adults observed them pushing a friend’s button.
I am pleased to say that Meghan and I were in awe as we witnessed the kids supporting each other and working together, controlling their impulses and bodies, and accepting the ideas of others WITHOUT pushing each other’s buttons. We ended up with only a few buttons in the pits. There were no other consequences and we pointed out how respectfully they behaved.
We recognize that this activity involved only one hour out of the many hours in a day and we can’t expect this friendly behavior to persist at all times. However, we also believe the practice, success, and warm feelings the kids experienced is a big step in the right direction.