One pest in a class is just about manageable. Doing something different in a lesson increases the amount of pestering that goes on, and the amount of pupils doing it. Take, for example, a trip to the computer suite one lesson, and the pestering that goes on reaches critical level. No matter how clear and slo-o-o-w my initial instructions, no matter how long we spend clarifying points with whole-class questions and answers before the activity, hell, it doesn’t even matter that everything is re-iterated on handouts or on a board that everyone can see, still the pestering comes.
“Can I print on coloured paper?”
“Can we work as a four not a pair?”
“Can I go onto this really cool website?”
“Can I go to the toilet?”
Okay, some of this pestering is because of the change from the norm, and many of the pests are pacified with my first response. But a hard-core of pests will continue, nagging and repeating themselves and whinging and whining and pulling on my sleeve to get my attention, five or six of them on and on and on… It’s hard to remain calm. I want to swat them all away like flies. I want to swear at them or shout to shut them up. It’s difficult to remain calm. I don’t always manage it. Sometimes I’ll explode.
“Oh for goodness’ sake, what’s the matter?! You know what to do, go back to your seats!” I might yell. (“Goodness’ sake” is my own private code. It’s a substitute phrase for something far, far worse.) I might even tell them at that point that if we continue to have so much fussing we won’t come and use the computers again.
But why haven’t these children learnt by the age of 11, 12 or 13 that no means no? That when an adult tells them no then they should understand that’s the end of the matter and that repetitive nagging doesn’t get them what they want? Parents need to learn a valuable lesson that will save them a lot of grief later on. Train your children when they’re young to understand the word “no” and they will be less of a pain when they’re a bit older. It might break your heart to see your toddler having a tantrum because they haven’t got their own way. It might make you feel like the favourite parent if you can provide your child with what they nag for when the other parent has said no. But giving in to a whinging child turns that child into a pest. Pest? That’s putting it lightly. Mega-whiny- spoilt-bratty-pain-in-the-butt might be more spot on.
Look parents. If I can tell them no when there are seven simultaneous nagging children trying to wear me down, whilst trying to mend a broken printer and keep an eye on 23 other kids at the same time, then you can do it with your solitary child at the right age. Let’s put a stop to pester power now!