Impulse Management and Lower Levels

The following QUESTION was asked:

I asked a student (middle school) on which level he was choosing, and he answered, “On a lower level.” He did this a few more times, so I gave him the reflection form and he still operated at a low level. I’m going to tell him that now he has a detention. Do you have any other suggestions?


Hopefully, both “reflection” forms were used: Essay and Self-Diagnostic Referral. These forms are in the book.

Think “Elicit—-rather than “Impose.”

After the student has acknowledged lower level behavior and continues to act on level B, ask the question, “What do you suggest we do about it?” Then follow up with the next question, “If you get the urge to do this again, what procedure will you use so that you will be a victor, rather than a victim of your impulses—unless, of course, you want to remain being a victim?” (This paradoxical questioning is often very effective with this type of person.)

The key question to keep in mind is, “What can I ask to make the responsibility the student’s?”

After a procedure has been elicited to redirect future impulses, then elicit a consequence in case irresponsible behavior continues. In this way, the student has ownership of the consequence. People don’t argue with their own decisions.

When a consequence is imposed, negative feelings erupt in both the student and teacher. This not only damages relationships but often is not very effective. If the same students keep getting detentions, one should—in my opinion—conclude that detention is not effective with these students.

When anyone tells or imposes a punishment, the other person is being deprived of an opportunity to become more responsible.


Learning a procedure for responding appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link .