In schools, psycho-education is a classroom behavior management method that aims at training teachers and students about children's emotional and behavioral problems. Psycho-educational teachers believe that socio-emotional growth happens when children understand the role that emotions play in their school difficulties. Psycho-educational theory and methods include cognitive (thinking), affective (feelings), and behavior aspects.
This is an excerpt from my free ebook, “Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and
Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior.” To download this
book, click on the link at the bottom of this post.
Persuasion Technique 1: Assume that What You Want is True
If you talk and act as if what you want is true, your child
will believe you. When we assume something, we are sending the message to the
child that he or she already wants to do what we are requesting; for example,
asking, “Do you want carrots or celery?” assumes that the child wants and will
eat one of these two vegetables.
Persuasion Technique 2: Use Positive Directions
When we use positive directions, we get higher compliance
than when we use negative directions. Negative directions tell children what
not to do; “Don’t make noises” or “Don’t hit your little brother” are examples
of negative directions. On the other hand, positive directions tell children
what they need to do to comply. Work in changing the negative directions you give
children into positive directions. Shapiro (1994) recommends that we write down
the negative directions we typically say in one column, and then, in a second
column, we change these statements into directions that tell the child in a
specific way what he or she should be doing instead. Always describe what you
want in positive terms; for example, “Talk in a quiet voice” rather than “Stop
Persuasion Technique 3: Point Out an Acceptable Alternative
Positive directions guide children toward a more appropriate
behavior or in the direction of an alternative behavior. Shapiro provides the
following examples, “Making noises at the table disturbs other people during
dinner. If you need to make noises, you can excuse yourself from the table and
go outside for five minutes,” and “When you hit your little brother, you will
have to go to time-out. Try hitting this pillow when you feel angry.” According
to Schaefer (1994), when we point out an acceptable alternative, the child will
be more likely to change the inappropriate behavior because he knows what he
should do in addition to what not to do.
Persuasion Technique 4: Use More “Start” Messages and Fewer
It is easier to start doing something than to stop doing
something. Apply this principle when you discipline children; instead of
telling the child what to stop doing, tell the child what to start doing. For
example, we can turn a statement like, “Stop playing with that toy” into
“Please, hand me the toy.” A teacher or parent skilled in persuasive discipline
is able to suggest alternative ways of behaving rather than constantly saying,
“No” or “Stop that.”
Schaefer, C. E. (1994). How
to influence children. A handbook of practical child guidance skills (Second
Edition). Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.
Shapiro, L. E. (1994). Tricks
of the trade: 101 psychological techniques to help children grow and change. King
of Prussia, PA: Center for Applied Psychology.
To download free
Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence
Children Toward Positive Behavior, just click here.
There is no single explanation why some students feel
habitual and recurrent anger, exhibiting more aggressive behaviors than other
students show. Some of it might depend on the child’s earlier experiences in
life. Students who show a tendency to angry and aggressive behaviors in school
seem to be responding to a worldview, their idea of how the world functions,
that validates the belief that they are living in a hostile and negative world.
If the child has had negative experiences earlier in life, experiences that are
now part of the child’s memories, a particular incident may trigger anger
associated with the student’s memories and thoughts. For example, if another
child accidentally steps on the child, the troubled and anger-prone child will
be inclined to perceive the intrusion as a hostile and intentional act because
this interpretation matches and validates his or her worldview. Anger becomes
an automatic response to everyday events, even when the environmental cues are
not there, or even when the environmental cues are contradicting the child’s
interpretation of the event. This habitual response can be reinforced by
others, including parents, teachers, and peers if they have become used to it,
and are expecting angry and hostile reactions from the child all the time. Every time the child’s angry feelings create a
counter-reaction from others, this counter-reaction reinforces the child’s
negative worldview, helping the child feel in control of the situation,
especially when he or she gets what the anger was all about in the first place.
The angry feeling by itself functions as a short-term reinforcement for the
child, and once anger and aggressive behaviors are recorded in the child’s mind
as a way to control, manipulate, and dominate others and their environment, the
anger-prone child will use angry feelings and aggressive behaviors more easily
in the future.
Other contributing factors can help in maintaining an anger
habit. Among the most common in children, we can mention:
·Frustration. Anger is almost always based on frustration. When
feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, or ignored anger seems to be the child’s
attempt to regain control. Anger-prone students show low frustration tolerance, going “on the offensive” to deal with
situations that other children just put up with.
·Fear. Anger can be based on fear, from fear of losing a
privilege to fear of failure in a task or skill, anger is usually about the
fear of losing something that feels important to the child. As I said,
anger-prone children seem to be always on the offensive; they feel uneasy and
sometimes overwhelmed with situations that put them at risk of losing what they
value, and they try to hide this apprehension from others by being the ones who
can spring from the child’s feelings that he has to fight all the time to
preserve his dignity and sense of self-worth.
·Lack of Assertiveness. When the child lacks the ability of assertively speaking for
his rights, and does not know how to negotiate to get what he wants, the child may
find himself exploding instead.
Certain pre-conditions may
also influence angry feelings and aggressive behaviors in children, among them
attitude towards aggression and violence (a reaction to watching violent movies,
television, and/or sports)
and aggressive interactions with a parent or a caretaker
cover-up for feelings of failure
·a cover-up for sadness and depression
or “getting even”
What the child is thinking and how she is feeling at the
moment of the event is instrumental in creating anger. If at the moment of the
event the child is relaxed and in a positive state, she is less inclined to
react angrily to the event. If, on the other hand, the child is already on an
aversive or pre-anger state, she will
be more susceptible to an angry reaction.
For more on the topic of anger in
Understanding the Anger-Prone StudentPart One: Models of