Kids are kids; They aren’t good or bad. Instead of labeling children, you should address their behaviour. Here’s why:
The good boy/bad boy label is damaging to self-esteem. A child who is told he is good feels pressure to be perfect, because he constantly fears the single slip-up that will make him a ‘bad boy’. A child who is told he is bad will grow up believing it.
Children don’t know how to resolve conflict unless you teach them the tools to do so.
Here’s an example of how I teach conflict resolution:
I have a ‘quiet corner’ set up in a low-traffic area of the classroom, where I take children who were involved disputes. The children sit on chairs facing each other, while I play mediator from a chair a couple feet away.
We’ll call the children Bob and Mary.
“Bob, it’s your turn to talk. Tell your friend what happened, from your point of view. Mary, you cannot interrupt while Bob is talking”.
Bob says: “Mary, you broke my tower”.
Mary then has a chance to talk. “But I saw your Mommy come to the door, so I knew you were going home, so I wanted to build my own thing”.
I say to Mary, “How do you think that made Bob feel?”
Mary says, “Sad?”
I say, “How could you tell he was sad?” It’s important to prompt children to recognize feelings by reading body language and listening for verbal cues.
“Bob was crying and then he kicked me”.
“What could you have done differently?” I ask Bob.
“Instead of kicking you, I could have said ‘I want to show my mommy the tower, and then you can play with these blocks’”.
“Great idea! Mary, what could you have done differently?”
“I could have asked Bob if I could use the blocks”.
“How can you fix the situation now?
Mary says, “I can help Bob build the tower again”.
Bob says, “I’d like that”.
Later, I have a talk with the class about the situation. I address the issue at circle time, without singling out the children who were involved. I get all the children involved in a discussion or roleplay.
Kids are not simply good or bad. Even if a child’s behaviour leaves a lot to be desired, he is not so one-dimensional that he can be defined by it.