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How to meet oppositional defiance with a consistent limit…

Date: June 19th, 2014
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [3:15] about how we successfully set a limit on a kid who was oppositional defiant.

Your oppositional‑defiant kid is THE kid who needs limits the most. This is the kid for whom we put a Behavior Response Plan into place and nobody deviates from it.

He does this or she does this, we do this. We respond every time that way. It’s not wishy‑washy, the kid doesn’t cry their way out of it, the kid doesn’t find a hole to slip through in the system.

I had a young lady. She was unbelievable. She was running the building. [Audience laughs.]

We know who these kids are. They don’t hide, so when people say to me, “Polly, I could not put a Behavior Response Plan into place for an oppositional defiant kid and have every adult follow it because there’s too many adults and they don’t know the child.” I said, “I don’t agree with you, we all know who these kids are.”

This kid was in a high school of 1500 kids, there were 75, 80 staff. She ran the building. And she basically walked around that building and gave everybody the finger in the classroom that had a window, on a regular basis. She was allowed to do this. People just threw their hands up.

We put a plan in place for her. I simply said to every person in that building at the staff meeting, “When you see her, say to her, ‘Go back to the room you came from.’ That’s all you say to her. ‘Go back to the room you came from.'”

They said “She’s not going to go.” I said “That’s OK, all you have to do is say that, every single staff member. ‘Go back to the room you came from.’ Don’t engage her, don’t answer questions. If she’s crying, if she’s sobbing, if she’s swearing, if she’s carrying on, you just tell her, ‘Go back to the room you came from.'”

It took us three months to get this kid to go back to the room she came from. [Audience laughs.] Three months.

She cried, she’d go to the nurse. The nurse had to really work on it and say “Go back to the room you came from.” She’d get all upset and she’d cuss and swear and she’d turn around.

Teachers would say to her, “Go back, go to the room that you came from.” As soon as they turned around, you know what she did right? Have you ever gotten the finger behind your back but you know you got it? I said to every staff, “Don’t turn around. You just keep on going.”

That was really hard for staff to do, really hard.

After three months, this young lady came back to the classroom, which was my classroom. She sat in the room, she took the stuff off her desk, she threw it on the floor, and she said, “All right, I’m here, but I ain’t doing nothing.”

Fine, because what was my goal? It was to get her to come back and to stay in one place. I was not at that moment going to get out three months of make-up work and say, “Here’s the work you missed,” because I would have started all over again.

That’s all I wanted, one little piece of compliance. Once I got that compliance, we were happy. She came to that room every day and she did nothing. But the fact that she was there mattered.