Why positive behavioral supports work better

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It is refreshing to see that schools are now recognizing that zero tolerance and negative responses to all actions does not allow the student to develop a sense or mastery over their own behaviors.  Students need to know that they are meeting expectations, not to just assume that if they are not being criticized or punished they are doing what the teacher or principal wants.

As a society we need to remember that children and teens don’t have all the answers.  They need to hear often that they are making progress and developing mastery skills.  They are not choosing to do it wrong or to make things worse.  They need us to help them learn the steps to success.

Check out this article about how well positive behavioral supports work.

The Root of All Conflict

This is a great article by Robert Whipple, The Trust Ambassador. When I work with parents and teachers regarding a child or teen labeled as oppositional defiant disorder, this very problem of everybody wearing their “I am right” buttons is the root of the conflict.
What would happen if instead of, as the adult, demanding that the child/teen accept your belief, you took the time to hear the child out, ask them to figure out how your viewpoint fits with theirs or why it does not, and then develop an agreement as to why one way or the other fits the situation at the time. Yes it takes more time to do this, but it builds trust in the child that you are to be respected and treated with dignity. Would that be okay with your?
Let me know your thoughts.

Would you like a copy of my free report on oppositional children? Click here.

celeriacCan you believe a single three-word phrase is the basis for nearly all conflict? It is true that conflict shows up with numerous symptoms and there are many different ways of resolving it. If it were not for three words, and their implications, we would rarely experience the dysfunctional behaviors of conflict that cause interpersonal problems and billions of dollars wasted in business.

Human beings come in all shapes and sizes; each of us is a unique specimen. One universal truth we all have in common is an amazing ability to drive other humans crazy when we try to live or work in close proximity. Two people working in the same area day after day will eventually hurt each other emotionally, if not physically. Put three people together and it will happen even faster. When you peel back the various layers of symptoms, you always come back to the same…

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Do Children Have Rights?

How many of you saw the video of the stepfather in California beating his son with a belt for “not catching the ball”?  According to a report written by Kevin Dolak of Good Morning America,  the neighbor who taped the beating, Oscar Lopez , said “he heard Sanchez tell the boy he had better learn to throw the football correctly because when he starts playing, ‘They’re all going to laugh at you.’ ”

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I was sickened by what I saw and by his and his lawyer’s belief that it is okay to discipline a child this way, when you are supposedly trying to teach him  a skill.

I have a question.  If it is okay to train children this way to learn skills, should it also be the policy to use the same strategies on our employees?  I am guessing most people would say NO in outrage for such an abusive suggestion.  But what is the difference?  Both are individuals in subservient positions to their parents/bosses/managers?  Why should it be okay to do it to a child, but not an adult?  What if the employee broke something in the office, or took someone else’s stapler off their desk without returning it?  What about lying about getting their work done?  Or why they didn’t come to work today?

If you felt it was inappropriate to discipline an adult for any of these behaviors, why is it then okay to do to a child?  We need to call abuse what it is and bullying what it is, no matter whether it is happening to a child (or animal) or an adult.  There are so many positive methods of teaching skills or dealing with inappropriate behavior, that we must no longer tolerate such behavior from others.

I applaud Mr. Lopez for being a whistle-blower and advocate for this boy.  Let’s all learn from him and step up when we see atrocities like this.

Understanding the Acting Out Student in the Classroom

The hardest thing for a teacher to deal with in the classroom is a student acting out.  She has 20+ other students to teach and disruptions don’t allow for learning.  Unfortunately, many if not most teachers were not given training on effective classroom management.  Those who did were introduced to assertive discipline. This relies on letting the student know immediately when he has violated a rule.  The teacher was taught less about setting up positive supports for behavior.


Two areas of great importance, however, are rarely taught to teachers.  These areas would provide teachers with the tools needed to assist all students in managing their own behavior while increasing their learning.

The first area deals with child development, most importantly in terms of temperament. Temperament is the hows of behavior.  We are born with nine traits of temperament, such as activity level, basic mood, and intensity of response. These traits interact with any developmental, learning, and mental health issues we have, and our environment to help mold our personalities.  The more that a teacher understands how to respond to a student through his/her temperament profile, the more successful the child will be in managing his behavior in the classroom.

Looking at the first trait mentioned, activity level, some students need to use energy to be comfortable in their environment. If a teacher understands that her student needs to expend energy in order to be engaged, she can have him doing things during the lesson. He also requires recess in order to use up his energy. Taking away his recess due to misbehaviors will only make matters worse.  He can’t keep his energy level down and also concentrate on the lesson.

The second trait, basic mood, refers to his first impression to whatever is suggested, presented, etc. A student, who is more negative in basic mood, will start out noting the problems with what was presented.  It may be stating that he can’t do it, that it is dumb, or some similar response. The teacher will never win by trying to convince him otherwise or telling him that he is wrong. She has to connect with his feelings. She can then problem solve with him on how to get it done despite how unappealing it appears, or how hard it seems to be.

Intensity of response is a hard one for most teachers to tolerate, when it’s the high intensity level. The student will always be at 100% of whatever emotion he is experiencing.  The school counselor or social worker can help the student learn about degrees of expression and practice them based on a hierarchy of situations. The teacher than can positively reinforce variations in level of intensity during the class day.

The other area where regular education teachers are taught little if anything at all deals with recognizing and providing interventions for learning struggles.  One child in seven has one or more issue in learning that is developmental in nature. This may be problems with vocabulary or language knowledge. It may be in visual or auditory processing, which can affect reading, learning to write letters, spelling, and connecting the sounds with the letters of the alphabet.  When a child is acting out, this has to be looked at.  Academic supports are needed to close the gap before it becomes too much for the child to handle.  If this same child is also having the temperament trait problems mentioned above, it is even more important, so that peace can return to the classroom.

Colleges and school districts need to provide more training and support to teachers in these areas.  By doing so, they will also be helping many more of the struggling students. In the end, everyone will win.