This is the continuation of How to Reduce Power Struggles.
The Houdini Technique: The Art of Escaping Difficult Situations, Cont.
ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) is now becoming as much a common diagnosis as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). In fact, they are often combined. ODD is especially connected to power struggles between children and adults. Minimizing power struggles is an effective strategy in dealing with children, “ODD” or not.
It is important to understand that the basic drive of a child engaged in power a struggle is to:
- Resist or refuse the “control” of others
- Rebel against “positive reinforcement” which he perceives as manipulation
Here are some tips for teachers on how to avoid engaging in struggles of control and manipulation.
Deflect the Blame
Don't take personal responsibility for rules and limitations. You can do this by placing the “blame” on a source outside yourself. Here are some examples:
- "According to the clock..."
- "The Schedule says..."
- “It's the school rule. As teacher I must follow it. That's my job."
Make Positive Reinforcement a “Disappearing Act”
To benefit from giving positive reinforcement without it appearing as manipulation, try to draw minimal attention to it. Here are some examples of “disappearing act” positive reinforcement:
- The "walk by" reinforcement: a brief, even non-verbal, acknowledgement of a student’s effort or performance.
- Whispered praise: a quiet and brief word of encouragement.
- Positive note: leave a note for a student to discover.
- Puzzle prizes: have the student draw a picture of a reward and then cut it into “puzzle” pieces. When he is doing well, give him one piece. When the picture is complete the student gets the prize.