Stop. Rewind. Try Again.

We have a strong rule in our centers that children are not allowed to open doors...don't open, don't touch, just DON'T.  Why? Two reasons:

First and foremost is a safety issue.  Children get their fingers caught in the doors and can get seriously injured.  It is a real risk with those heavy doors.

Second if they can open a door, they can go OUT a door.  That door is a barrier to stop a child from running away.  Again, it goes to safety because there are dangerous things out there that can seriously injur them.

With these two rules in place, it is very important that children understand, and comply with, this rule.  Mostly this is done simply by telling the children and explaining to them the seriousness of opening doors on their own.  We also do a lot of reminding as a group are walking down the hallway, when the first child gets to the door we remind them, "Stop, who opens doors?"

Some of our classrooms have even been known to place a red tape line a foot away from the door to remind the children to stay behind the line.

What happens, however, when a child keeps opening doors, touching doors, and is just plain defiant with that rule (or any rule for their safety)?  It's simple...we repeat and try again.

No, really!

Just the other day I had a boy who thought he was being funny and went running ahead of me in the hallway, opened the door, ran ahead through the classroom, openes that door, and ran outside.

I very calmly went out, took his hand (without saying a word), walked him inside, walked all the way back to the bathroom where we started this trip, and stopped there.  I got down on his level and, eye to eye, said, "We're going to try this again, the right way.  Are you ready?"

He nodded his head.

We went.  I very specifically did NOT hold his hand because I knew he could do it without my hand.  That was part of this. 

I could tell he kind of knew why he was repeating, but was not feeling the true remorse for his actions.  How?  He was skipping down the hallway, grin on his face, like he thought this was a fun game.

He stopped at the first door like he was supposed to.  I again got on his level, looked him in the eye, and said, "Who's allowed to open doors?" 

He pointed to me.

"Why are you not allowed to open doors?  What can happen?"

This is when remorse for his actions finally set in.  How do I know?  Because this is when his eyes become downcast, he gets figity, and shows through body language that he doesn't want to talk to me anymore and just want to get outside.

I don't continue on until I have his attention and know that he has heard me explain about his safety.

I open the door, he walks through and across the classoom to the next door.  He waits there for me to open it.

If he hadn't?  We would have repeated the process again.

I once repeated the process 4 times before a child finally stopped at the door.  I never get mad when I am doing this, never get frustrated or upset.  There's no point.  My emotions will dictate whether this turns into a success or a power struggle.  A power struggle does not prevent this behavior from occuring in the future.

Running in the hallway?  Stop, rewind, try again.

Opening doors?  Stop, rewind, try again.

Putting nap mat away and deciding to throw it across the room?  Stop, rewind, try again.

This is a great trick in my bag of tricks.  I use it often.

Before leaving you with this I want to iterate one more thing:  This is only done with one or two children at a time.  The entire group doesn't run down the hallway, it's usually one or two instigators.  Don't torment the group for one or two children.

When do you use the stop, rewind, try again?

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