Counterwill causes stress, and counterwill is something we all experience at some time in our lives. What is counterwill? Counterwill is the name for the natural human resistance to being controlled.
Adults as well as young people experience counterwill. Perhaps it’s no surprise that counterwill is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted dynamic in child-parent and teacher-student relationships.
This instinctive resistance to force can take many forms:
Refusal to do what is asked
Reluctance and resistance when being told
Disobedience or defiance
Lack of motivation to do what the adult desires the young person to do
Counterwill can also manifest itself in procrastination or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity, oppositional defiance, … >>> “Counterwill Causes Stress”
Create visual images to prompt behaviors you desire.
P = Send POSITIVE messages.
Notice the number of times you state something negatively that could be stated in positive terms. Promise with the positive by using contingencies, rather than consequences—which usually prompt negative feelings. Notice the difference between how the following two are perceived:
“As soon as you finish your work, you can go to the activity center.” (Contingency – stated in the positive) vs. “If your work is not done, you’re not going to the activity center.” (Consequence – stated negatively)
C = Offer CHOICES.
Choice empowers. Choices give ownership, a critical component for changing behavior.
Behavior Modification or behaviorism in the form of PBIS is widely used in schools and homes.
In fact, this approach of catching kids dong what the teacher wants and then giving rewards to reinforce the behavior is still mandated by state school administrators around the country.
Ask any teacher who has implemented this external approach in the form of PBIS (Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports) to promote responsible behavior and you will hear that, after using this approach for any length of time, it becomes counterproductive. PBIS fails in a number of ways for promoting expected appropriate behavior:
• PBIS is unfair because it is IMPOSSIBLE to reward every student for everything the adult desires.
One of the key concepts of the Discipline Without Stress book and approach is to ask reflective questions. Always remember, though, that “why” questions are not reflective and often will not curb the discipline problem you are trying to correct.
So, what’s wrong with “why” questions, especially when trying to discipline a youngster? “Why” questions have an accusatory overtone. They also block communications because such questions prompt negative feelings.
Let’s prove the point. Say the following question out loud so you can hear yourself:
“Why are you doing that?”
Notice that when you asked this question, your voice pitch rose higher and your volume increased. Also, notice the effect on your emotions when you asked this “Why?” question.
More and more people are learning about the Discipline Without Stress methodology and the Raise Responsibility System every day. For those experienced with the approach, as well as for those new to it, here’s a quick summary of how the Raise Responsibility system works.
Step 1: TEACHING – (Students learn four levels of social development) Being proactive by TEACHING AT THE OUTSET is in contrast to the usual approach of just responding to inappropriate behavior.
Also (and this is critical), be sure you have taught, practiced, and practiced again EVERYTHING you want your students to do. A MAJOR ERROR EVEN EXPERIENCED TEACHERS MAKE is ASSUMING that students, of any age, know what to do without first learning, practicing, and ritualizing the procedure or skill.
I’ve just enjoyed reading an excellent thought-provoking book published in 2013, titled Mind over Medicine, written by Lissa Rankin MD.
In one section of the book, Dr. Rankin shares an experiment conducted by social scientists. They were curious about whether or not learned helplessness in senior citizens could be counteracted by increasing their feelings of control, choice and personal responsibility. Because of my familiarity with using these same principles in my teaching by employing Dr. Marshall’s Discipline without Stress approach, my ears perked up!
When I was in high school I had an English teacher who used a very simple strategy to interest and motivate students. It didn’t take much time or effort on his part and was just a simple thing, but it was enough to get me to want to attend his class every single day. What did he do? He simply put up a new thought-provoking quote, in large letters, in the same place, on the same side chalkboard every day.
A few days ago I was in a restaurant having lunch. Next to me was a young mom also having lunch, accompanied by her lovely little preschooler. As their meal was ending, I noticed the mom lift a spoonful of something uneaten from her daughter’s plate and offer it to the little girl––who, with a shake of her curly blond head, declined to eat. That wasn’t unusual but what the mom said next prompted me to pay a bit more attention.
She said, “Okay, Katie, if you like this can be your “No thank you bite.” The little girl shook her head no.
Does anyone have a letter communicate to parents about Discipline without Stress?
Here is one letter that was shared by a Kindergarten teacher in Memphis and is based on the outline Dr. Marshall provides in his book. It may provide a starting point for your own letter.
Our classroom is a small community where teamwork and good relationships are expected. Since Kindergarten is a new experience for most students, we will spend a lot of time learning class procedures/routines and practicing them. Each student is expected to act within our standards of behavior.
I was thinking today about the “enforceable statements” that Love and Logic is big on using. At first, I was thinking that I might use their statements in my Discipline without Stress teaching but now I’m wondering. I’d like another opinion on the subject.
In the Love and Logic program, instead of making rules for your students, you only tell them what YOU, the adult will do. The thinking behind this is that the only person you ever really have control over is yourself.
I can see how some enforceable statements could be used with Discipline without Stress if they fall into the category of procedures. For example, things like :
My class is so messy! They leave trash everywhere and it takes them forever to clean up after centers, or art time or snack! How do you get kids to clean up? They will eventually clean it up because I keep telling them over and over, but I need some ideas!!
I try to approach it in this way in my primary class…
When I ring our chimes to get their attention at a clean up time, I typically make some positive reference to the activity which will directly follow. For instance, I might say….
Who’s interested to see what’s been brought for Show and Tell today?
Here’s the book we’re going to read today. I can’t wait
I am an art teacher at an elementary school. I have three 4th grade classes that are usually difficult to manage. I have recently asked a guest artist to come and do a Jackson Pollock lesson with them. She is supplying all the paint and canvases for this lesson, except one. I also have one very large (6 X 8) canvas that only one class will get to paint. The other two classes will have to work on smaller individual canvases. This lesson requires the students to be on their best behavior and be good listeners as we will be “splatter” painting. I told the classes they could “earn” the big canvas. I said that the class with the … >>> “Do you think I did the right thing?”
Reflection is a powerful teaching and learning strategy that parents and teachers often overlook. The key to reflection is the skill of asking youngsters self-evaluative questions. Here are a few examples:
Are you angry at me or at the situation?
Does what you are doing help you get your work done?
What would an extraordinary person do in this situation?
Are you willing to try something different if it would help you?
Unfortunately, most parents and teachers ask ineffective questions such as, “Why are you doing that?” This is a pothole question. First, most people cannot articulate their motivation and second, the youngster may answer, “Because I have ADD.” Better never to ask a child a “Why?” question regarding behavior! … >>> “One Key Skill All Parents and Teachers Must Master”
Just yesterday I sat listening, mouth wide open, as my dentist and his assistant chatted and worked on my teeth. At one point their conversation turned to family and they updated each other on the lives of their respective children. The dental assistant asked how the dentist’s son, a first year of Med student, was doing. Since the boy had always been a good student, she wondered if he was still getting good grades. The dentist said, “I really don’t know. They don’t give grades anymore. The only mark Med students receive is Pass or Fail.”
When she expressed surprise, he went on to explain further. He said that things were much different now than when he himself had attended … >>> “Competition in Medical School”
What if a child chooses something as a consequence, that is in his/her own mind, nothing more than a way of getting out of trouble? Although Dr. Marshall’s book has validated my beliefs on how to treat children, I do feel that in this one regard a self-imposed consequence could simply be a way out for a person in the wrong.
As well, if a child violates another person’s right, it seems fair that the person whose rights have been violated would have a say in whether they think the self-imposed consequence is a fair one. Could you please advise me if my thinking about is correct or not.
How do I handle denial? I have several 5th grade students who deny their behavior. Even when I directly observe their Level A/B behaviors, they deny everything. I find this stops every conversation I try to have with them. It’s so frustrating! How can I guide students toward responsibility when they are in denial?
I’ve encountered this problem as well. Here are three ways that I deal with it:
1. During an after-class chat with these students, instead of saying “When you were throwing pens….”, I might say, “If someone was throwing pens during a lesson, what level would that behavior be at?” This way students aren’t directly confronted. Initially, … >>> “What if students deny Level A/B behavior?”