Teacher Classroom Management Survival Skills: Ideas To Manage Unmanagable Students
"Nothing seems to work with that child!"
Have you ever said those words? If you work with very out-of-control students, chances are you have said those words more than once. You were right. Nothing was working to rein in that youngster. In this article, we'll explain why nothing worked, and what you can do that will work. Hopefully, this article will help you avoid saying those words so often.
Just about everybody has one-- that child who is almost gleefully out-of-control. You know the youngster. He's the one who seems to live to torment vulnerable peers. He seems to almost take delight from engaging in problem behaviors like property damage, harm to others, verbal abuse, and defiance. If you noticed the heavy use of "he" in the last few sentences, that was not by accident. This child does tend to be a "he." Can you name the mental health label that might be used to describe this type of child?
The answer is "conduct disorder," a topic covered in depth in our popular Problem-Kid Problem-Solver Workshops (http://www.youthchg.com.) The term "conduct disorder" roughly means that the child has no conscience, remorse, or relationship capacity. That means that these children don't care about hurting others or damaging property, so they do what they want, when they want, to who they want. Only a mental health professional can diagnose this disorder, so it is very important that if you are not a social worker, counselor, etc., you never say that a child is conduct disordered (C.D.). However, it is okay for you to carry that concern in your mind.
Here is the most important information: You must work with C.D.s differently than everybody else. If you attempt to use conventional approaches with C.D.s, you will find "nothing works." There is your explanation for why nothing seems to work with some youngsters. You may be surprised to learn that conduct disorders are not a tiny fraction of your students. Estimates are that 11-15% of your youngsters are C.D.s. That means you probably have more than one child with whom nothing seems to work.
In our workshop, we devote hours to teaching you about this child. Obviously, we can't fit all that information into this space. Yet, clearly, this isn't a child you want to work with when you have just a smattering of information on how to manage them, so we'll do our best to explain 1.) why nothing has been working to manage C.D.s, and 2.) what to do instead-- and we'll include a handout.
1.) Why Nothing Works
Conduct disorders are "wired" differently than other students. That means that they may not be able to care. Because of that difference, the following interventions will fail: character ed, values clarification, empathy building, second chances, making amends, and more-- far too many to list here. These methods fail because the child must care about others if these techniques are to work. These approaches are absolutely fine for other types of children, but will never be of value with C.D.s. In fact, these methods make the situation worse because they communicate to these children that you don't understand who they are, and don't understand how to control them. That perception generally leads these youngsters to believe that they may be able to do whatever they want without having to deal with consequences that would be of significant concern to them.
2.) What to Do Instead
If possible, stop using any intervention that requires that the child care. For example, stop using empathy-based methods. Stop saying: "Timmy, that makes Juan feel bad when you slap him." For a C.D., with those words, you just painted a target on Juan's back. Review the list of common interventions in #1 above, and discontinue using those approaches with children who may be C.D.s.
Now, you have one key pointer to help you work with your hardest-to-manage youth: keep the costs of misbehavior high. There are so many more methods to also use, that we must emphasize that this brief article is absolutely inadequate for giving you all you need to effectively manage your most unmanageable youngsters. To best ensure your safety, and that of your students, be sure to more fully update your skills as soon as possible rather than rely on the limited information we have been able to squeeze in here. Our web site is packed with more details that you can access right away. Our link is shown above and below. Also, please note that we are not identifying C.D.s as "bad" or "hopeless." Instead, we are asking you to consider that you have a diverse population of youngsters, and you need to always select the correct tools for the correct kids. For conduct disordered kids, choosing the wrong tools can yield disastrous results. Choosing the correct tools can put you back in charge of even the most out-of-control, conduct disordered youngsters.
LIKE THESE STRATEGIES?
We have dozens more. The sampling listed here are excerpted from our newest book, "Conduct Disorders and Anti-Social Youth," and is designed to give you all the tools you need to manage unmanageable students in the classroom, office and hallways. Learning more about conduct disorders can help you rapidly get more in control of an out-of-control classroom. To quickly improve your classroom management skills, learn all you can about your most misbehaved students, your conduct disorders. The time you spend in your classroom should dramatically improve because of it.
About the Author: Get much more information on this topic at http://www.youthchg.com. Author Ruth Herman Wells MS is the director of Youth Change, (http://www.youthchg.com.) Sign up for her free Problem-Kid Problem-Solver magazine at the site and see hundreds more of her innovative methods. Ruth is the author of dozens of books and provides workshops and training.