Effectively Communicate With Your Student
According to psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, our basic needs, such as food and shelter, must be met before we can seek more self-fulfilling needs. School on Wheels serves children that are impacted by their experience of homelessness—many lack the basics of stability and security in their lives. For some children, negative behavior is the best way to get their needs met. It is important to recognize this and help children find alternative modes of expression. A few ways to do this:
• Depersonalize behavior—Remember, a child’s behavior is NEVER about you, so don’t take it personally. Instead of saying “You are a naughty little boy”, try, “Throwing things at other children is not nice as it hurts their feelings.” This statement indicates that the behavior is separate from the child and tells the child why the behavior is not appropriate.
• Give choices—Offer two options instead of a command. For example, instead of saying “It’s time to do homework now”, offer a choice of “Would you like to start the writing prompt before your homework, or go straight to the homework now?”
• Observing without evaluating—When we observe something, we own it as our point of view. When we make an evaluation, we are making a judgment which leads others to feel defensive. For example, the evaluation “You always ignore me when I’m trying to help you” becomes an observation when we take ownership: “The last three times I have asked you to listen, you have continued to talk.” Observing a child’s behavior without evaluating acknowledges that we see what is happening without placing blame.