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Behaviors
Behaviors At School

The Gossip

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 feels that if he/she can relate a story to a teacher or student who listens, he/she gains attention.

Power
Being able to relate exclusive stories is a form of power.

Self-Confidence
This student may attempt to enhance his/her self-concept by being "in the know" about others.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

Sex/Sexuality
The behavior of the gossip is an attempt to gain attention and establish relationships with others.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Gregariousness
This person wants to belong, but doesn't know how to approach this need positively.

Aggression
This person needs to assert him/herself through classroom activities and other responsibilities.

Power
The gossip sees him/herself as having a certain amount of power. But he/she does not understand where loyalty fits into friendship and, too often, "uses up" people by discarding them when their usefulness is over.

Actions to Take
  • Always talk privately to this student.

  • In the private conference explain the hurt that gossip may cause other persons. Also explain that your position is to help the gossip and others in the class, and that you will not allow others to be hurt.

  • In a caring way, confront specific situations in which his/her gossip has caused hurt or violated a confidence.

  • However, never generalize, and always talk about his/her strengths as well as weaknesses in any discussion.

  • Give this student tips for sharing information in a constructive way. For instance, tell the student to tell everyone his/her heart desires about good news, but to resolve not to say a word about the negative.

  • Regard each incident as an excellent opportunity to teach responsibility.

  • Look for the hidden message this student is sending you. It is usually the need to be center- stage, reveal importance, or take pressure off him/herself.

  • Always consider and try to meet the needs of the gossip rather than put him/her down. For instance, this student has a strong need to belong to a group, be affiliated with you, or acquire power or status with classmates or adults. There are countless tasks you can give him/her in the classroom to fill these needs.

  • Seat this student where he/she is close to you-or at least easily accessible.

  • Be aware that the rest of the class will be watching how you work with the gossip. It's important for classmates to see how you relate to and manage the gossip because your behavior will serve as a guide for their actions.

  • Don't use the gossip. Rather, stop this behavior when it begins. Don't wait to hear the story, then reprimand. This is treating the problem after the "horse is out of the barn." Remember, until you stop this behavior before the fact, he/she will continue to gossip.

  • As a last resort, bring this student face to face with the person he/she is talking about and have him/her repeat the story.

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.