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Why I don’t call a behavior “inappropriate” or “unacceptable”

Date: April 18th, 2013
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [2:56] to learn why describing a behavior as “unacceptable” doesn’t help us change it, which is our goal.

Let’s talk about behavior.

Is it inappropriate? Is it unacceptable? Is it good? Is it bad?

We can’t really define those words, so using them doesn’t help us change difficult behaviors.

Think of it this way: behavior is always an action. We can see it. Furthermore, what we are seeing is what a student is doing to get her needs met.

Every action in the classroom, on the school grounds, on the bus, is a form of communication. Not always a good form of communication, granted! Nevertheless, what we have to figure out is usually something like this: Is it a skill set the student is lacking so that she doesn’t know how to get her need met without getting into trouble? Or, is she purposely doing that action in order to get into trouble, because trouble is really all she knows in order to get her needs met?

I’m always asking myself and my school clients these questions: “What is the action, and what is it getting for the student?” In order for us to go in there and try to attack a behavior and change it, everything has to be described in terms of what is observable. We have to describe the action.

Finally, remember, kids don’t say, “Gee, Ms. Bath, this is really tough for me to do. Could you just take me aside and give me a little tutoring or maybe tell me how I might be able to tolerate the situations that are difficult for me?” They never do that. Instead, it is a student’s actions that are communications to us. It’s those actions that we’ve got to look at.

It will make all the difference.
Click on my video above for more.