How To Distract Children from Tears and Blood

I’ve talked before about my method for dealing with crying children: carry on with teaching and distract the other children while the P.A. deals with the teary-one. It’s not that I’m lacking genuine concern for the kid, but it can get quite chaotic if you abandon the plan: some kids gather around the crying child, some kids are running here and there, unaware that the game has stopped, some kids will start hitting each other, this one kid always goes straight for the board markers… so I think it’s best to let the P.A. (who can actually communicate with the child and find out what’s wrong) handle the situation and my job is to keep the other 10 kids from killing themselves.

An example of this would be what I like to call The Domino Effect. I was playing a game with my Small Stars Green class (my youngest class, 4/5 year olds) and Benji ran head first into Kate, causing the back of Kate’s head to smack into Williams face, creating an interesting domino effect. So there are 10 kids in the class, 3 are crying, 4 are still running, 2 are watching the crying children with interest, and 1 looks like she wants to cry out of sheer confusion. My mistake was paying attention to Benji (the least hurt out of all the them, go figure) while May took care of Kate and William, leaving the rest of the class to watch or talk amongst themselves. When I was ready to continue class, it took about 10 minutes to get all the kids attention back on to me and for a class that only lasts an hour, this is a considerable amount of wasted time. I had to resort to blowing up a bright pink balloon and letting it go, so that every kids eye was on the zooming balloon until it landed on the floor. I then did the same thing with a bright yellow balloon, just in case. I’ve also used balls, fly swatters, music, and sitting on the floor singing Happy Birthday to draw their eyes away from the spectacle and back to me. The Domino Effect was a special case, it’s not often 3 kids cry at once, but I’ve learnt that it’s better to distract and carry on with class before the children get to distracted and are unable to refocus on the task at hand.

Turns out, my method for dealing with bleeding children is no different. On Wednesdays and Sundays I have my Small Stars Red class (5/6 year olds) and halfway through every class I line them up and we all walk to the bathrooms together. I made this plan for a reason! The kids in this class constantly need to go to the bathroom, for whatever reason. There was rarely a time when all 12 students would be in the class at once because someone would be in the bathroom. So I made the rule that we would all go to the bathroom together half way through the class, and this way no one misses anything.

So on Sunday we were heading back from the bathrooms in a straight line, me leading in the front and May bringing up the rear. Before we start walking I always shout “No running!” a few times and they repeat it, but it never works. They always end up running. I’ve stopped many times to scold a few, and even assigned 1 or 2 students to be the “line policemen” and to keep the other students in line and walking. But nonetheless, on Sunday we were walking back to class and I turned around just in time to catch the end of Adam’s epic face-plant. He is the sweetest boy, but super clumsy and he had doubtlessly been running and tripped over his own feet, swan dived, and smashed his face on the ground. Blood began to spew and he began to cry. The first half of the line were unaware of what happened, but the kids behind Adam began gathering around him. May was already rushing him back towards the bathrooms and some of the kids started following them while others had passed me and were heading towards the room, and some remained frozen on the spot, not knowing which direction to head. Kids scattering everywhere! Chaos!! I bellowed the names of the kids following May back to the bathrooms, managed to hussle everyone back into my classroom, and many of them were saying “Adam! Adam!” and telling each other (I assume) what had happened. I managed to distract them by taking out work sheets while saying “OOOoooOOOoooo!!!”, chucking a handful of crayons on to the middle of the floor and telling them to colour. This worked well because, like dinosaurs, nothing distracts kids better than colours and dramatic gestures. Adam and May returned after a few minutes into the colouring, Adam bearing a wad of kleenex in one of his nostrils and miraculously no tears! I told him he was a brave boy and he just smiled and began colouring with the rest of the children.

So my method works I think, whether it’s dealing with tears or blood. Distract the other students and let the P.A. handle the disaster. May, who is my P.A. for both my Small Stars classes, and I have an unspoken agreement of what to bring to class: She brings the tissues, I bring the props.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marilyn Hanstead
    Nov 15, 2011 @ 20:09:43

    Hi Steph:

    Your stories never fail to let all of us know how interesting and unpredictable life in a classroom can be. Your teaching skills and how you handle your classes are so impressive. I always look forward to the next chapter in your blog.

    Still no snow on the ground in Keewatin but we have had a few flurries so winter cannot be far away. Heading into Winnipeg tomorrow for a Hanstead family funeral and then to baby sit Gracie on Friday.

    Happy Wednesday…..

    LOL Auntie Marilyn


  2. Lois Christianson
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 08:12:53

    I, too always look forward to your blogsWhat an amazing teacher you are turning out to be. Fascinating, in my books.
    I’ll check on you again on the week-end…to-day is Thursday
    Love Aunty


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