Friday, February 26, 2010

I Love Loud Boys

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

I Love Loud Boys, by Elder Yoon Hwan Choi
Of the Seventy

I substitute-taught a group of loud and rowdy six- and seven-year-old boys and girls last Sunday. In trying to help the loudest two, I employed two strategies: force, and love.

When the two children wouldn't stop talking (and touching) each other in a meeting, I split them up by sitting between them. This worked for all of five seconds. I then moved one down a few seats, rearranging the entire class. (To her credit, the one I asked to move did not complain about the change at all.) Despite this, the one remaining child turned his distraction on me, poking, talking, squirming, etc. What to do?

The last time I substitute-taught, I saw another substitute-teacher scold and whisper-yell at rowdy children (with less-than-ideal results). I had also seen other teachers completely ignore their class members, which didn't work well either.

I had a decision to make. Criticize or ignore. Or, I could try love.

Placing my arm around his shoulders, I reminded him that I was there. When he would act out or squirm, I would use softly-spoken questions to bring him back to the meeting. Interestingly, it worked!

After a few moments, he was calm and even leaning against my arm.

Elder Choi relates a more labor- and time-intensive account of how he and his family were able to positively influence a dozen such "loud boys." He tells of how he prayed and acted with love to teach these troublemakers a better, gentler way. This was all done with patience, persuasion, and praise.

It's one thing to have twenty minutes of success in a children's meeting, it's another entirely to offer consistent examples and reinforcement.

I want to use more love and less force in my life, particularly with my own children. Elder Choi spoke of the young men collectively, but it is equally applicable to our own children:

Dear brethren, let us love our boys—although some of them are loud boys. Let us teach them to change their lives. . . . These young men are all of our sons. As we reach out to them, lift them, and help them, we will feel like John, who said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (See 3 John 1:4)

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