Friday, April 30, 2010

Misbehaving boy? Or a boy with unmet needs?

I am on the email list for the newsletter of an educator named Barry MacDonald, who performs teacher and parenting seminars and wrote a book about educating boys. I really like his style, and have often put into practice what I have learned from him about how boys operate. Here is a link to his latest newsletter, which I found extremely relevant to my family, despite the fact that it is geared towards recess/lunch detentions. Really it is about punitive behavior modification techniques, especially ones which restrict the movement and physical play of boys, which is really great to remember with my uber active houseful of boys [and especially that middle one...if I could only discover the magic key to stimulating his interest in learning responsible and respectful behavior that comes from an internal motivation within him, I'd be GOLDEN!!!]

In particular I appreciated this list of questions to ask ourselves as parents (and educators);

Do we really believe that children misbehave on purpose or that they choose to stay inside at recess [or sit in the time out chair in our bathroom] while others socialize and play?

I would suggest that before we rush to threaten to withhold recess [send to the time out chair] or apply some other sanction, we ought first to ask ourselves broader and deeper questions:

1. Is there a pattern to the misbehavior or underachievement? If so, what might the pattern reveal?

2. What might a particular boy be saying through his behavior that we have not understood?

3. How might we look beyond his recalcitrant behavior to better understand what he needs?

4. If the boy is old enough, who might respectfully seek his input and invite him into authentic partnership? How could we work collaboratively to a positive outcome that he can be a part of?

So great! I really like this guy's approach and I sincerely hope ALL of Matthew's teachers will have gone to one of Barry MacDonald's seminars.....because he's a wiggly one....and a noisy one....and he learns by doing and talking and that macro learning MacDonald describes.....he's a handful! But he has SO MUCH intelligence and potential.


Tonya said...

Much of our boys misbehavior is caused by too much energy! Eric has taken to making them do pushups when they get that way. That way they burn a little energy and redirect their focus. They actually (usually) like it! And Seth has gotten pretty good at doing pushups. :-)

Asheya said...

Yes, I totally agree with this guy's questions and approach. This was the same mindset I came from when I taught, and you'd be surprised (and dismayed) at how many teachers don't think like this. I hope Matthew's teachers have attended this guy's workshops too!

Writers of Kosciusko County Jail said...

I love what you wrote here. I must confess that a good friend of mine has a couple of super active step-kids who have also had a very rough time in life. My friend is frequently bewildered by his children and every time I talk to him he's talking about disciplining (spanking) them. It's very hard for me to know how to respond! I definitely don't think he's asking himself those questions. So, so good.