Friday, January 16, 2009

Converting potential hindrance into help

Last Tuesday evening I had a library show.  There were a few kids in the library when I arrived, including a 16-year-old boy who had a lot to say. He was clearly a nice boy, but needed extra attention and could, if inclined, be disruptive in my show.

I was proactive. "Sean, I wonder if you would do me a big favor. Would you be my photographer during the performance?" I handed him my digital camera (and tried not to flinch as he put his fingers on the lens). I showed him how to use it. He immediately put the strap around his neck. He loved having an official role and was, for the most part, well-behaved.

Thank goodness for digital cameras. I hit the delete button on most of the pictures, but a few weren't bad. Better even than the pictures was the fact that Sean rose to the occasion and became a help, not a hindrance.  I may try this again.


Sean said...

Back in my old life when I was doing Youth Ministry and training oodles of volunteers and adults to work with teenagers, we called this discipline process "utilization." Rather than view the "offending" young person as something to suppress, give them something to do and lots to do, too.

"Utilization" was really how I got my start in storytelling, too.

I was delighted to see your post here making use of the same technique. You are a natural empath with people, seeing the right thing at the right moment. Good for you!

PriscillaHowe said...

Thanks, and thanks for that useful piece of vocabulary. I've got another library show tonight--we'll see if I need to utilize at this show.

Flo said...

Very cool and very clever. I would've flinched.