Eliciting vs. Imposing

Perhaps of all the approaches I have discovered, the most simple yet most effective one is eliciting, in contrast to imposing.

The following are from notes taken by Joy Pelton after attending one of my presentations—used with her permission:

ELICIT a consequence; don’t impose it.

Don’t tell a student what is going to happen if. . . . Rather, REDIRECT by saying, “George, what do you suggest we do about this?” “What else?” “What else?” until George comes up with a consequence that you agree with. Then respond with, “I can live with that.”


Two characteristics for changing behavior: (1) There needs to be an acknowledgment that a change is necessary and (2) The person needs to own the decision.

Every time you use your authority to dominate, you deprive that child of the right to learn how to be responsible, to make a responsible choice.

Joy L. Pelton
Folsom/Cordova Center Coordinator
Department of Teacher Education
California State University, Sacramento


Every time a teacher, parent, or supervisor IMPOSES, the recipient is automatically placed in a position of being a victim for the simple reason that choice is denied.

In contrast to imposing, when the consequence or a procedure is elicited then choice, empowerment, and responsibility are engaged. Victim-type thinking is negated, relations are not damaged, and a positive path to correct a situation is developed.