My wife recently came to me with a situation she had teaching with a particular student in her class. Well meaning adults have had numerous meetings on this child. These meetings, and the hours that they consume, only reinforce in the child’s and the moms mind his behavior. He and she are getting the attention they want. How they both use the power gained from that attention is another thing.  Am I to believe that the problem is there have not been enough meetings to solve the problem?

Let’s keep trying this is what mechanics do with a car. It does not work that way with children.

Let me see if I understand the problem. 3 years ago a family incident traumatized the child. A similar situation occurred again over the summer.

By the end of last year this child had made so much progress that he was close to being mainstreamed.

Now I have heard numerous solutions have been tried with this child. Yes it is true that I have not witnessed these events, but I am going to tell you there is only one new case in 10 million and this is not the one.

I have used behavior modification with many children while teaching. I have used it with autistic kids, getting them to produce more than they ever have done before, and eradicating poor behavior with others. I have used it with young children, teenagers, and adults.

Giving a child “rewards” for negative behavior goes against the very basic tenants of behavior modification. When the child misbehaves he is to be told NO. That is it. You then remove him for the environment he is impacting. Increasing the bribes only reinforces the child’s propensity to misbehave. By continuing to escalate the bribes you are telling the child the more he misbehaves the better the reward he gets. As for him burning bridges, well, no that does not happen with 8 year olds. They live in the moment. The environment triggers the behavior.

This is a troubling scenario. The future consequences of this child’s behavior in and to his class along with the Kelly school community cannot be understated. ALL the children, as well as the other teachers see this behavior and it affects them. It also allows the child to see the attention he is getting and since this is irrational behavior, and the more he misbehaves, the more attention he gets. With “bigger” and “better” bribes, there is no reason for him to stop behaving badly. In actuality, he is being encouraged to ramp up the kind of behavior he is going. It won’t be long, in my educated opinion, before he has a violent episode. He needs to be removed from the classroom and needs counseling, as does his mother.