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January 11, 2007

The Rehabilitation of an Anti-Sharer

“And chances are if the mouse asks for a glass of milk, he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.”

Ahh, the end of story time, right after lunch and before nap-time…a time when most of the children are relaxing, flirting with the decision to crash prematurely on the rug before retiring to the comfort of their individual mats, or contemplating the complexities highlighted in the literary masterpiece just presented to them, in this case the enigmatic cyclical nature of Laura Numeroff’s classic, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Yet, for Kevin, this point in the day used to be filled will anxiety, frustration, and sometimes pure anger if he was not chosen to help me pass out the mats.  Not anymore.

Unlike the other children, our key phrase –“Oh well, I’ll get picked next time.” –did not work for Kevin.  Ms.  Morrison and I decided to individualize our approach to Kevin’s struggle with taking turns and build on his visual learning style and interest in taking on greater responsibility.  Each day, after we complete our post-story discussion, Kevin walks over to Ms. Morrison’s table and figures out who should have a turn to distribute the mats by reviewing a list of his classmates who have helped over the course of the past two weeks.  He then announces the person picked for the day to the entire class.  Since we have developed the system Kevin has not cried or thrown a tantrum once during this transition time.   

We still have some difficulties in other parts of the day; for instance, if he doesn’t get picked during a discussion or game on the rug.  Yet the intensity of his responses has subsided, and he is better able to manage his anger without much direct attention from me.  He will sometimes turn his back to the group to weep silently or just breathe deeply.  He either comes back to the group on his own in a few minutes or responds to me praising others or engaging him with an interesting activity.  He even occasionally uses our “Oh well” message.

We have certainly made progress in working with Kevin and understanding how to continue improving his behavior in the future.  His ability to stay focused and calm even when he is not chosen or he does not get what he wants will undoubtedly help him grow both academically as a learner and socially as a member of our classroom community. 

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