Exploring Alternatives

Sometimes, in order to deal with problematic behavior in my classes, I try to remember the advice I give to parents.  But, in the thick of it, it’s easy to forget your own good advice.  Like you, I sometimes struggle with kids who are disrespectful, obnoxious, and oppositionally defiant.  I’m sure many of you unfortunately recognize how irritating, frustrating, and hurtful this behavior can be.  At the end of the day, realize that the child has a problem, and gets angry because he is thwarted from satisfying his own needs — never mind yours!  Even when I realize this, I sometimes feel anxious and  exhausted from raising my voice and using negative behavior reinforcement which means that the only way I feel I can make headway is to take privileges away such as computer time or even planned trips.

We know all kids behave badly from time to time.  But when they are defiant and even hostile, or they refuse to comply, the behavior affects the entire class or family.  By using the right strategies, you can turn negative behavior around.

Here are some suggestions:

You can use reflective listening, which means you help the child understand and clarify his/her feelings.  You might say something such as this:

“You’re angry/upset…..

“It seems to me that you feel / think……….

“May we look at some things you could do about this?

Help your child figure out a solution by saying something like this:

“Which idea do you think is the best one?”

“What do you think will happen if you do that?”

Sometimes a child is so hostile or verbally aggressive they can’t actually think of a solution or the cause of their anger, and can’t generate plausible ideas.  You might help your child by saying something like this:

“Have you considered what might happen to you, and the consequences of your actions?”


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