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View Behavior Model

View All Behaviors

Four Steps Model
Step 1: Identify the Behavior
Step 2: Understand the Effects
Step 3: Identify the Cause
Step 4: Avoid Mistakes

Related Behaviors
The Alibier
The Crier (Who Claims Foul)
The Excuse Maker
The Griper
The Loudmouth
The Objector
The Questioner
The Vindictive
Behaviors At School

The Complainer

Action: Identify causes of misbehavior. Pinpoint student needs being revealed. Employ specific methods, procedures, and techniques at school and at home for getting the child to modify or change his/her behavior.

Primary Causes of Misbehavior

Attention
This student needs to know that you know he/she exists, and needs to be able to do something that gets attention.

Self-Confidence
This student has a very low feeling of self-worth and sees everybody else as to blame for his/her failure.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

Sex/Sexuality
Opportunities should be given in which this student may develop relationships.

Escape from Pain
The complainer finds his/her own personal life very painful. And it becomes easier to blame everybody else rather than look into his/her own responsibilities.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Affiliation
This student may need a strong positive relationship with a teacher or a fellow student.

Achievement
Academic success can reduce complaining.

Power
The student is struggling for independence, but needs to channel energies in more constructive ways. The teacher might explain that it is OK to complain constructively when a valid complaint exists. Thus the power need can be met in acceptable ways and respected.

Autonomy
This student needs to understand that he/she is in control of his/her success or failure as a person.

Actions to Take
  • Recognize that student complaints are usually the result of some kind of upset. They are expressed by saying, "This isn't fair," or "I don't think we should have to do this."

  • Don't overlook this one important facet of complaints: Inherent in complaints is interest. Furthermore, complaints usually indicate involvement. That's why if we ignore a complaining student, we may turn interest off.

  • For best results, allow a student to say what is on his/her mind. Complaints require a full explanation.

  • Be personal. It's your best motivational tool. Tell your students that you do care. Use such phrases as "Let me help you," "Could we work on that together?" and "I think you have a good idea." Use personal pronouns, and students will respond in positive ways.

  • If the student is totally or partially right, correct the situation immediately and thank the student for bringing the complaint to your attention. If the student is wrong, explain and give assurance in a caring way.

  • Above all, don't do anything that makes either the student or the complaint appear unimportant.

  • Study the student's background to find out his/her real needs.

  • Remember, this student fears failure, and bolsters his/her ego by complaining to the point that he/she believes the rationalization. Talk to previous teachers to try to gain a comprehensive view of what is bothering the student. Check the student's ability closely. The class work may be too difficult for him/her.

  • Don't work on long-term goals. Rather, present more immediate goals through short-term assignments. Even if this student is behind classmates, make-up work will result in his/her giving up almost completely. Helping the student set short-term goals and selecting tasks which he/she can complete will give you the opportunity to reinforce this student's actions with consideration and encouragement.

  • Don't react defensively to complaints. Accept them at face value with a comment such as "That may be a point I should consider." Then, encourage private discussion and counseling. by saying, "Could you give me a little time to think about it and then stop by after school to discuss it with me?"

  • Always have a private conference. Tell the student, "I would very much like to talk to you privately about your various complaints." Counsel in regard to negative and constructive criticism. When counseling, say, "If you're going to criticize, you must have solutions." This helps make the student accountable.

  • When this student offers a complaint, treat him/her as you do other students. Do not be quick to reject the complaint. Rather, try to create a situation in which you can discuss the complaint privately rather than publicly. Then you are in a position to help the student as well as maintain your relationship with other students.

  • During the private conference, always begin the conversation by asking for the student's constructive criticism. Agree with any of the student's legitimate complaints. This is the key to developing a working relationship, and enables you to establish a base for guiding the student toward gaining skill in voicing criticism in a positive, appropriate way. If you reject all criticism, all is lost.

  • During the meeting, don't appear offended or irritated. Listen sincerely. If possible, respond with immediate action. Regardless, be sure the student understands the reasons for the requirements or policy you have established. Students gain perspective from teacher explanations. Usually, there are few complaints a teacher cannot solve with communication.

  • Give this student attention on a daily basis. Such a continuous program of attention is an important part of his/her guidance. Talk specifically to him/her once every day.

  • Listen to the student. When you do, he/she will consider you "special" and may "bend your ear" so often that you'll feel the behavior is getting worse rather than better. You'll be surprised at how much you can help this student. He/she is often heard but seldom listened to.

  • Remember, the person who complains still cares. However, if he/she is not helped, the next step is uninvolvement. Never forget, the primary reason for complaining is to get attention. Don't let this need for attention get you down.

  • Discover some ground upon which to compliment this student.

  • Above all, know that this student must have success. This includes academic success as well as help to see the positive aspects of his/her life.

  • Don't encourage complaining. However, students do need to know you have an "open-door" policy. Too, they need to know how to voice criticism. Remind the students that you discuss privately the suggestions you may have for them-and that you would appreciate the same consideration.

  • Explain that it's OK to be wrong and make.