Across the playground you hear a young child crying as his teacher panics yelling, “Ugh–he is so dirty, put him down!” knocking the frog out of the child’s hand. She then picks the toddler up as he screams “My frog! My frog!” She puts the boy down and walks away with the child in tow. You hear her explaining how dirty that frog was and how he shouldn’t touch it.
Sobbing with boogers dripping down his face, he screams louder about his frog friend. He becomes inconsolable. He is flailing his arms in anger. Nothing she can do now can stop the temper tantrum. The damage is already done.
At this moment, I wish I had an imaginary teacher helper that could run around and say “No, no, no, try it this way!” This insane moment that was created by an overreaction is so unnecessary. The teacher, the child, and anyone else in the class now have to feel the stress created by the teacher’s reaction to poor Mr.Frog’s visit.
The skills needed by a teacher, caregiver, babysitter and a mother/father are all the same in these moments. Patience, love and IMAGINATION.
Skill #1 Love: How would I feel if …
If I was holding a frog in my hand and someone tore it from me, how would I react? I would throw an adult temper tantrum. I would feel unloved. I would demand to know who has the right to grab my frog from me, and cry just like the child! Okay so maybe I wouldn’t cry, but I would certainly question anyone who treated me this way.
We should only react so abruptly to children when there is an emergency scenario. Emergency scenarios do not count picking up a frog or a ladybug! (Step #4 will address the safety issue of frogs)
Children need to be viewed as little future adults and deserve kindness and respect at all times.
Skill #2 PATIENCE: Remember what it was like to be a child…
A young child is not going to want to hand you their new friend. They will run from you, hide from you, maybe even stick the frog in their pocket for it’s safety!
Stay patient and remember to laugh. Young children are developing their own survival skills and yelling at them about a frog will cause fear, not compliance.
Sit with the child and pet the frog too. Tell the children as they gather around how this frog needs to go home to its mommy. Stay calm, loving and patient.
Skill #3 IMAGINATION: Join the child’s world…
Get on the child’s level. Remember what it is like to be young and excited about something you’ve never been able to hold before. Join the child in their adventure. Be as excited as they are and save the frog–with their help!
“Johnny, that frog is amazing. How did you capture him? You must be a super hero to that frog. Come on everyone, let’s save Johnny’s frog and get him back to his mommy!”
Even a 2 year old will be excited to help. Slowly walk the child and frog to the fence line and say goodbye together. Release Mr. Frog and wave goodbye.
Suggest that maybe the frog will be in the classroom and go for a Frog Hunt! Hop around like frogs on lily pads! If the child still throws a fit, then at least the child crying won’t be a stress and distraction to the fun the rest of the children are having!
But wait, can’t frogs be dangerous?
OK, sure, some say that contact with frogs can cause an infection because they may carry salmonella bacteria. Still, this is not a reason to freak out. After touching a frog, you should simply wash your hands with soap and water immediately. Don’t eat or touch food before washing your hands. Frog juice is not tasty anyway.
After the Frog Hunt or lily pad jumping session, warn young children not to touch any frogs or other living creatures without calling for an adult first and keep an eye out for any sneaky frogs that have made it into the classroom or home!