I had to laugh at myself when I was trying to deal with a particularly defiant student in my class whose m.o. is to deliberately provoke, whether me or another student. I didn’t follow my own advice, which I continually give to parents in my blogs and talks. This youngster, age 14, raised the hackles on my back figuratively, by deliberately provoking me into a confrontation by defying my authority.
Instead of quickly asking myself what solution to this situation would be the most beneficial to both of us, I reacted by yelling at him and threatening him with a referral to the Principal. This would mean he couldn’t attend the 8th grade graduation ceremony and dance. That was probably the worst thing I could threaten him with, and I pulled out ‘’he big gun”. At this point, I had lost the battle, and I knew it.
How to handle the situation that I blew:
1- Make sure to take a pause (the one that refreshes the brain, the one where you give a little time to think clearly by breathing deeply a few times). I could have been using both hemispheres of my brain instead of going into fight or flight mode because I felt threatened.
2- I didn’t take into consideration that this child had to keep up his cool with his classmates, and would not back down so I would be the one who had to come up with a solution that was a respectable compromise for both of us. A win/win so to speak.
3- I needed to think and not react so quickly. I could have taken the kid into a private area and calmly asked him to discuss the reason he had to act out in the way he did, and how he thought it made me feel. I could have told him how anxious his provocations made me feel, and how hard it is to have to deal with it on a constant basis. Then, I could have asked him what he thought his consequences should be. I could have admitted that I made a mistake and realized the consequences I gave him were too severe. I could have made him part of the decision making process, and empowered him in some way by doing this. Obviously, he has self-esteem issues and needs to feel in control.
4- I would show my vulnerability and model fair behavior to this child who suffers on some level. Better that, than flying off the handle as I did, and making no advancements in understanding and respect. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve!