Student who passively refuses to answer reflective questions.

QUESTION (Part One):

I’ve heard you say “The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.” However, I have a child in my first grade class this year who refuses to answer any of my reflective questions.



If you are not happy and would like me to help you, let me know what you would like me to do. There is no hurry; take your time. I’ll be here to help you when you want me to help.”

If you would like me to help you find a friend, let me know.

If you want to talk to me alone, just let me know.

QUESTION (Part Two):

Since he does not respond, I eventually feel forced into telling him why his behavior is at an unacceptable level and/or making his guided choices for him.  I know these are Big No-Nos in DWS, but what to do?


If he is not disrupting the class, it is not a discipline/behavior problem in the usual sense. There may be psychological and or social problems that are out of your control. You best approach is to paint visual, positive pictures of how he will enjoy himself and what he is missing. Your being positive, letting him know that his choices determine his happiness, and asking simple questions that have to do with his feelings are your best tactics.

QUESTION (Part Three):

I am frustrated by his complete lack of engagement, and I feel that I’ve lost control of the conversation by his consistant refusal to respond to reflective questioning.  His passive behavior is causing stress in the emotional climate of our classroom, as classmates can sense a developing power struggle.  Any suggestions?


A little reflection here: Is he CAUSING stress, or is he prompting an emotion in you that prompts stress? If so, is there not a choice available as to how to respond to the prompt?

If the other children are affected, hold a classroom meeting and discuss the problem. Get them involved. They will come up with suggestions to help.