Monday 1 April 2024

How do kids differ to adults in interaction dynamics?


“The innocence and optimism of youth is more a sad reminder of adult resentment to come.” 


I watched a gripping psychological film the other night by the name of Triggered.  It is/was certainly not a blockbuster by profile or box office revenue, but the sheer storyline gripped me from the start.  I guess it just goes to show that, in my opinion, we live in a world where success is a by-product of how many people can follow someone or something, irrespective to how high or low the quality of offering is.

Now that little dig is off my chest, the theme manifested via an all so familiar real life dynamic.  In particular, situations which are all too common for distaste in the United States.  I am not condoning for a single second what the violators acted out at the end of the film, but I can relate to how children can question the meaning of life, when, in metaphoric terms, only dark mornings are what they see outside the window each day.

Whilst I neither experienced an extreme forgettable nor enjoyable secondary school (pretty much equivalent of junior high school) five year period, I do remember enough times, mainly in observation of others as opposed to my own days, regarding how a young person can feel isolated, downbeat, lonely and, at worst, fear of even going there. 

As you get older and start working, the vast majority of adults will have that sickly Sunday night/Monday morning feeling in anticipation of a week in a job they hate.  Nevertheless, I doubt many feel as nauseas in this respect compared to the children I exampled.  At least as an adult you have life experience to draw upon in terms of perspective.  As a child, you feel trapped in an existence you despise.

My recent profession change

At the end of last year, on the back of another redundancy, I decided to train up and take a role working in education.  The main reason was a desire to give back, and, even if only in my small way capacity, help those much younger steer through the murky waters of life.  In truth, most will not yet be familiar with this pessimism, such is the hope, innocence, and optimism of youth.

I have ended up as a Cover Teacher/Teaching Assistant/Learning Mentor, in the main, at a secondary school which predominantly consists of kids from deprived catchment areas.  It also attains a higher SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) percentage than most other schools in the area, and this is a result as much towards behavioural issues as it is slower learning skills.  Five weeks in, and I am not going to sugar coat anything.  It has been a tough transition for me.

My first lesson consisted of a Year 7 (age 11 to 12) maths lesson.  I could just not control their noise, behaviour, and disobedience.  Towards the end of the week, I encountered a challenging Year 9 group which involved six boys who had clear attitude problems.  When I asked one of them to take his feet off the table for the third time, in doing so he muttered the words – “You’re gonna get smoked, bro.”

What did I learn about the boys a month later?

As time progressed however, I started to learn how to handle the vast majority of boys at the school.  As a man who possesses a decent level of presence (physical looks, height, muscular profile, smart/classy dress style, strong body language, smelling good), but in the knowledge this presence is negated by the fact you cannot touch the modern day child or put much fear of the consequences into them, by week two I started to take the whole role far less seriously.  It has worked extremely well.

One of the things that worked a treat was joining in the ridicule of myself.  Inundated boys (and girls) as early as my first day started shouting at me  - “Get back shadrack!”  Not knowing what the hell they were on about, I just looked at them with bewilderment, which most likely played into their hands.

After checking out on social media what the phrase was all about, I found the answer on this.  Whilst I would like to think (as one of the other teachers pointed out) he will be far happier with the resemblance than me, in terms of the hair quiff, I could see what the kids were referring to.  Far more important however, was the fact I could now go along with it.  Every time one of the kids now shouts it out, I say and gesture it back to them with a big grin on my face.

Q-tip 1:                                                                                                                                    Kids thrive on teacher weakness, distress, and realizing the frustration of the humour they (the kids) process onto you.  If you can rise above this, in bouncing the humour back, not only will kids like you more for this, but it negates their main weapon.

Another strong tactic I use is to, in body language and presence terms, show them who is the man in both proverbial and literal manners.  This should not be misconstrued as bullying, which I hate in any walk of life, but it is a pronounced way of giving the boys firm eye contact when you walk past them, making them walk around you in the class (basically, me standing still), and walking in a strong manner.  Boys are looking for male role models at school or in social environments, especially considering so many are likely in single parent families, and if they can find someone they look up to, even if they are loathed to admit this to themselves at the beginning, they will, sooner rather than later, warm to you.

Q-tip 2:                                                                                                                                   Most wannabe popular boys in school are all talk.  They hide behind the comfort of their male friends in classrooms, corridors, or playgrounds.  But when on their own, they barely have the confidence to look you in the eye.  Once you get over the early cockiness seen in a boy, you start to see his vulnerabilities.  This is the point when you want to help and like him, rather than dismiss and dislike him.

The third profitable strategy I have used is to act by the firm but fair balance.  This might sound simple in real life, but in practice I probably failed in this during the first week.  I would not say this in man to woman relationship terms, but in this case leaning toward the firmness extreme did me no good at all.

After a conversation with someone who had previously been a teacher, he advised me to do two things:

·       One, within reason, act more like their mate.

·       Two, just do not try and replicate how most teachers act in the classroom.

This advice was golden.  I started to give the ill-disciplined boys (and some girls) that bit more space, and only laying down the rule book when they crossed the line.  I turned a blind eye to when they went on their mobile phones - by coughing, looking, and smiling at them, and just simply hand gesturing for them to put it away.  If the occasional one of them started walking around the classroom, I would allow this for a couple of minutes before kindly asking them that I had been reasonable to permit this, but it is now time to sit down. 

This non-dictatorial method has brought about a clear understanding that, whilst I cannot be walked all over, they know they receive lenience not received from most teachers.  I am not going by the rule book, but if I cannot use some level of my socio-psychological discretion and knowledge, then I am in the wrong job.

What about the girls?

The girls, by and large, present different challenges.  At all ages on a standard basis, they are more mature in respect to behaviour and willingness to learn.  With this said, their difficulty is more than compensated by their self-entitlement mentality.

Again, giving them space has been the main benefit.  If you think dictating a girl in a school will reap rewards, then I am seeing things far differently.  Without being a pushover, girls will generally give more when you allow them that bit more flexibility. 

As non-approving of this as I can be due to the age factor, some of the girls hold no reservation in flirting or saying sexual things to their friends when I turn my back about what they could do to me.  One of them even did the tiger growl and hand expression when she walked past me.  Bear in mind I am over three times the age of some of them. 

A final thought

This entire process has given me a first-hand experience to evaluate the comparison between how children respond to my existence against adults.  I have produced this easy explanation:

With regards to males, it is an inverse correlation.  I would estimate that 70% of men are not fond of my presence, leaving 30% who strive to be friendly.  There is not much in between.  With boys, I estimate 70% to 80% are fond of me, and 10% hold some kind of grudge (I would tend to think this 10% is mainly the popular boys who have heard the popular girls saying complimentary things about me).  This leaves an approximate 10% who have barely noticed me.

With consideration to females, I hold by the stance that 80% of women are not fond of my existence, with a remaining 20% who range from trying to get to know me or are not antagonistic but with no urge to pursue and contact.  With girls, it is again pretty much an inverse scenario.  80% seem to be anything from proactively liking me to standard friendliness, against the 20% who are not keen or just apathetic. 

This view of mine holds firm to what I have documented in this blog for the last decade.  In simple and general explanation, the younger the female age (and consequent younger female emotional mind), the more interested, engaging, and friendly girls/young women are towards the most physically attractive men.  Once the female age passes 23 and up to the early to mid-30’s, the less preferential, cooperative, and amiable women are towards stand out looking men.

Once women enter the mid 30’s, a greater percentage lean away from the 23 to early 30’s mindset as explained above, and towards the way of thinking accustomed to the girls/young women.  Regardless, they will never, or rarely, go back to how they were as the fearless teenager who just hunted down the hot, popular, and often jerky boy/young man.

A final, final thought

A man’s main form of envy and bitterness towards another man is due to the fear of said other man being more sought after by women (including his own female partner) than him.  Conversely, boys do not undergo these negative dispositions or habits, such is that the older attractive man is seen as a mentor and role model, and not a rival. When all said and done, the boy views him as someone he aspires to be, whilst the man sees him as a competitor and threat.

A woman’s main form of nose out of joint moments towards a high value man (and mainly very good-looking man) is due to her hostility in seeing a man who likely does not value her beauty in the same way as a less physically attractive man’s eyes project onto her.  In essence, her ego is punctured because of his options with women.  On the other hand, most girls embrace a hot man, because not only does a girl lead with her heart and sexual impulses, but she feels her social status is elevated by being part of his life.

Q-tip 3:                                                                                                                                         If men could remove jealousy and acerbity from their lives, in addition to not following the social pressure to fulfil their female partner’s financial expectations, they would live a far healthier and stress free life.

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