Let the Brainwashing Begin!

In education we have a phrase:  “Catch kids being good.”  We also have a warning:  “Just wait til the honeymoon period ends.”  I like to use the former to prepare for the latter.

With only two days of school behind us, my 7th grade homeroom is doing exactly what I’ve asked.  This morning, for example, they were all seated and quietly reading a book (or finishing their morning sentences) by the time the bell rang.  I made a point of thanking them and telling them how much I appreciate a class that is SELF-controlled instead of  TEACHER-controlled.

Later in the afternoon, my 8th grade literature class had hands up all over the place to make comments and ask questions during our class discussion (which covered a multitude of topics, but that’s another story).  I told them I remembered that behavior from last year, when they would get so involved in our discussion that they didn’t want the class to end!

Teachers and parents are quick to point out what the kids are doing wrong, but not always as quick to point out what they’re doing RIGHT.  Teens and adults alike stand a little taller and try a little harder when they receive compliments.  And even more powerful than a compliment is public praise.  Today I hauled another teacher into my classroom and told him, “Look at how awesome my class is!”  It was all they could do to keep from beaming.  (Everybody knows you don’t look cool if you beam when a teacher praises you.)

My plan is to make my students feel so good about doing the right thing now, while they’re still in eager-to-please mode, that they’ll just keep on doing it when the honeymoon wears off.

Want to improve your teen’s behavior?  Catch him being good – and comment on it (but be sure to keep it understated so you don’t mess with his “cool factor”)!

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