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Behaviors At School

The Disrespectful

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

Revenge
This student has been mistreated and therefore is mistreating others.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

Sex/Sexuality
There may be a great deal of conflict between the adults in the home.

Escape from Pain
He/she is feeling a great deal of pain caused by peers, family, or educators.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Power
This student, because of his/her hurt, is hurting others as a form of power. The power is usually a demonstration against adults.

Status
Because of the treatment received, the student-through disrespect-lets everyone know he/she is somebody.

Actions to Take
  • Always remember that disrespect is never given without reason. The reason may or may not have to do with the teacher. Yet, student disrespect will never be resolved unless we realize this fact-and do something about it.

  • Adopt the strategic position of acting in a positive rather than a negative way. Don't try to fight fire with fire. The behavior of this student can't be changed with such an approach.

  • Be aware that, more often than not, the teacher is not the cause of disrespect. It's an indicator that a child has problems, is experiencing failure, has been hurt, or has been indulged too often by adults. However, a close look will reveal that disrespect is often a result of a circumstance which could be altered rather than a permanent condition. It's an instant response which the student might withdraw immediately if so allowed.

  • Try responding to the offender with "What's wrong? Did I do something to offend? If I did, I'm sorry." This can set the stage to resolve rather than fuel the situation.

  • Keep the responsibility on the student. This is an important aspect of handling the disrespectful student. Retaliating only lets him/her off the hook.

  • A public confrontation may put the student on the spot and compel him/her to act even worse to save face or retain his/her image as one who "doesn't get pushed around by anyone." Whenever you can, move to the hall or a private place in the room to handle disrespect.

  • Remember, an unprofessional reaction always reinforces negative behavior in this student. Approach disrespect as you approach other student misbehavior-professionally. Although it's normal to be offended by disrespect, returning it only proves to the disrespectful student that he/she is right and justified in the behavior. It convinces the student that the teacher does not deserve respect. That's why a private one-on-one meeting always has a better chance of success and of achieving honest communication-and a student apology. In addition, classmates will not support disrespect from another student directed at the teacher when the teacher responds respectfully to the disrespectful student.

  • Be calm, poised, and perceptive when disrespect is shown. Most disrespectful outbursts are the result of quick, unthinking, and emotional responses. They would never have been made with forethought. By remembering this reality, you'll never prolong a student's quick outburst. Rather, you'll shorten it.

  • If you believe that the disrespectful remark was completely unwarranted, say so. Simply say, "Jim-I don't think I deserve that." Follow this remark with "Now . . . tell me what's really on your mind." This is confronting in a professional and caring way. This response will produce more instant student apologies and resolve more ugly incidents than you might think.

  • Remember, disrespect is often a result of hostility and revenge. Give the student nothing more to be hostile toward, and he/she will usually cooperate.

  • Don't jump on disrespect too quickly and harshly. Doing so can turn a cornered kitten into an ugly tiger. If your reaction is negative or retaliatory, you may receive further disrespect. So be careful not to let your initial response be defensive, indignant, or attacking.

  • Don't engage in sarcastic comments, put-downs, ridicule, or barbed teasing with students, or you will probably hear similar statements made to you-openly or behind your back. There is much truth in the old cliche: Example is the best teacher. The behavior you display toward students will be mirrored. You can count on it. Remember, misbehavior can originate from both sides of the desk.

List of Behaviors

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Please Note
We are labeling behaviors, not children! For the sake of convenience, we will describe behaviors with terms such as The Whiner or The Interrupter.

Never use such labels when talking to—or about—children! Doing so could cause many new problems and seriously damage the teacher-student or parent-child relationship.