Are some kids born stubborn, or do they become that way because of the way they are raised? Well, the answer is yes. Some children, as a condition of in-born temperament, are less cooperative and more prone to resist being told what to do. And some kids, because of how they are raised, become more defiant and stubborn as they grow older.
Let’s look at a classroom situation in which a teacher creates a minor disaster in her classroom as she tries to work with a defiant student. Her attempts to control the situation result in a “blow-out” by the student, creating a need for other professionals to be involved. We will then look at how this could have been avoided.
Teacher (speaking from across the room): “Jessie, why are you moving your chair? You don’t need to do that. Move it back where it was!”
Jessie: “Brittany is going to help me.”
Teacher: “You don’t need her help. Now move your chair back where it was!”
Jessie: “But I need help on this.”
Teacher: “Move that chair, or you’re going to get sent to the recovery room.”
Jessie: “I don’t have to. You can’t tell me what to do. You’re not my mother!”
At this point the situation deteriorated. Jessie was ordered to leave the room. She refused and was threatened with disciplinary action. Hearing this, she ran screaming out of the room and other professionals were drawn into the situation.
A “Nobody Loses” Approach
Here is another approach to the very same situation. No battle lines are drawn. Regardless of how the child reacts, she is obeying the adult’s request. Both the dignity of the adult and the dignity of the child can be maintained. Disciplinary action to help Jessie learn the wisdom of cooperating with the teacher can be provided later, if necessary.
Teacher (walking up to the student and whispering.): “Jessie. I need you to move your chair back. Would you consider doing that for me? Thank you.” (The word “consider” takes away any threat and eliminates the opportunity for Jessie to be defiant.)
Jessie: “But I want Brittany to help me.”
Teacher (still whispering.): “I’m sure that’s true, and I’d like you to consider moving.”
Jessie: “No. I don’t have to move.”
Teacher (still whispering.): “Thanks for considering it. Do you really think that it’s wise to refuse when I ask in a nice way? Personally, I don’t think that’s a wise decision. We’ll talk about that later.”
The teacher walks away and Jessie remains where she is, as long as she does not create a disturbance.
Because Jessie was not ordered to move, she has already complied with the teacher’s request. She was not told to move, only to consider moving. Nobody has lost a battle at this point. The other students are not aware of the problem and the teacher’s authority has not been challenged in front of the group. Jessie’s teacher now has the time to muster her forces and figure out how to deal with Jessie’s lack of cooperation. If discipline is necessary, it can be done in private.
Love and Logic solutions like this can be used by parents and teachers to handle defiant kids, as described in our webinar, Success with Strong-Willed, Stubborn or Downright Defiant Kids: Proven Techniques for the Classroom and Home.
Thanks for reading!