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The best way to target a behavior you want to change

Date: April 3rd, 2014
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [1:58] to learn how to target a behavior we want to change in the classroom. In order to target a behavior, we have to describe what we see. We see spitting, biting, saying no. We don’t see “inappropriate.” We don’t see “unacceptable.” Therefore, we shouldn’t use those terms when targeting.

Polly Bath: Behavior is action. We can see behavior, which eliminates inappropriate and unacceptable. It takes it right out of the picture.

Audience member: Takes what out?

Polly: Inappropriate and unacceptable. It takes it right out of there because I can’t see it. All right? I can’t see it. I’ve got to be able to see it. What’s the action? Don’t tell me it’s refusal. Tell me what the child does. Don’t tell me it’s disruptive. Tell me what you see. See what I’m saying? My definition of disruptive is different from yours. Tell me what you see the kid doing.

So what I should see in that column is all this stuff—hitting, biting, sleeping, making verbal threats, using foul language, saying no, fighting, taking off your clothes. We see it, right? Kicking, growling, crawling on the floor, running out of the room, being tardy, not having class work, arguing, talking out, picking your nose, making bodily function noises, all those things that kids do to entertain us.

Audience member: Spit down the stairwell.

Polly: Spit down the stairwell.

Audience member: Hiding.

Polly: Hiding. OK, running out of the room. I have that one up here. Refusing, not wearing your shoes.

Audience member: How about bossing kids?

Polly: Bossing kids. You can put bossing in quotes, because that’s kind of a…

Laying on the table, laying on the floor. Gritting your teeth.

Audience member: Smashing someone’s snack.

Polly: Smashing someone’s snack. I had a kid the other…I think I told you this. I had a kid the other day who took somebody’s water bottle, licked it and then put it down. All right? What kind of reaction did he get? A big one. OK?

Stealing, lying, cheating. Those are all actions.