Email this pageEmail This Page

Behavior: authority issues

Date: September 29th, 2016
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: Authority, how many kids really understand authority? They don’t quite get it. What if you’re the kid who’s at home and you are the authority figure? What if you’re the kid who gets up and gives your little brother and sister their medication in the morning, and it’s up to you to take care of everything, because mom’s passed out in the corner, and you don’t even know where dad is, because he didn’t make it home last night?

This happens to our kids and you know this. Then, they come to school, and they are all of a sudden supposed to turn their authority off and listen to you. I always say to kids, here’s the line that I use, I like to use a lot of common language cues, so I’ll say to them, “We’re in school now.”

When the kid walks in and says, “Hey, I’m not doing that.” I say, “We’re in school now.”

The kid walks in and drops a bunch of f-bombs. “We’re in school now.”

Because I know that that’s how they behave at home, I know that’s what they do when they’re outside of school. But you know what? They can learn to walk in this building and behave differently, if that’s what our expectation is. Not to throw our hands up and say, “Look at what’s happening at home, we can’t undo that.” You’re right, you can’t undo that! All you can do is teach them skills to behave differently when they are here, because that’s the environment that we want to put together in here.

Then, they walk in and say, “Oh yeah, I’m in school now. I can relax. I don’t have to be defensive. I belong here. I don’t have to drop f-bombs. I don’t have to make decisions. Those decisions can be made for me and I can regulate my own behavior.” It’s powerful to teach that!