I spent a lot of time in my office today which means I was unofficially on bathroom patrol. At my Montessori school, children use the restrooms in pairs, with one sitting in a chair holding a paper towel while the other uses the facilities. Recently we have started responding and acknowledging the correct behavior outside the bathroom, using posters that have photos of children behaving the proper way. When children are doing what they are supposed to, they see a "thumbs up" from an adult or an older child. When things get noisy, an adult is supposed to reference the poster to remind the child how they should behave.
Today a young man was sitting outside the bathroom who often has a hard time remembering to look at the poster and model the behavior. He's five. It got a bit noisy out there, so I went out to see if I could help. I came around the corner and he sort-of scrambled sideways onto a chair. I pointed to the appropriate picture on the poster with a smile.
"But it's so BORING to sit still in a chair," he said. (eye roll and frown)
"Yes, I know," I said. "But it's important to know how to sit still because sometimes it's useful."
"I can't do that," he said.
"Yes you can. Have you tried something to keep your mind busy?" I asked. "Try counting backwards from 50." ("Or even A HUNDRED!" said an interested party behind me.) "Let's do it together."
So we counted backward to about 35 together. I smiled and went back to my office. It got noisy again out there. I was ready to head back out, but then it suddenly got quiet. I heard someone whispering "82, 83, 84, 85........". He was sitting still and counting. I gave him a thumbs up. He smiled and kept counting. A minute later he moseyed into my office.
"I counted all the way to 130!" (Hmmm, his partner sure is taking a long time.........)
"That's great," I said. "Did it help?"
"Sort-of. But it's still boring."
"I know. Come here, I want to tell you a secret." He came closer. I whispered to him, "Some people have a hard time sitting still and that's OK. It gets better if you practice. You just did a great job practicing."
He looked at me and whispered back, "I don't think that should be a secret. I think its something that everybody should know if they are bored."
So he went back to his classroom to tell his classmates, and I'm telling you.