problem solving questions such as: What happened? What was your part
in it? What could you have done differently? AD children will learn
to spin off the "desired answers", but they will be meaningless
answers. The time spent on this exercise will be wasted time.
praise, such as "you are handling things well today" is generally
seen by the AD child as a manipulative control strategy on the adult's
part. In addition, overt praise for expected basic behavior such as
sitting in one's desk is likely to provoke an oppositional switch
into the undesired behavior.
behavior management plans / level systems: Such plans are based on
consistency, and this consistency makes these plans easy targets for
the strategic thinking of an AD child. AD children will see a behavior
management plan, not as a way to change behavior, but as simply one
more thing to learn "how to work" for their own purposes. Their
movements up and down the levels has all to do with their own
purpose at any given moment and little or nothing to do with success
/ failure or earning adult approval. AD children may even use behavior
management systems as bait to draw the adults into useless discussions
about how to sustain progress. The end result can be that it is the
teacher's behavior, rather than the child's, that ends up getting
zero tolerance stances run a high risk of dragging the teacher into
a cycle of escalating misbehavior followed by increasingly severe
consequences. Zero tolerance also does not allow the teacher sufficient
creative flexibility to approach the AD child in a useful way that
the AD child could not predict.
the child's tales about horrendous treatment at home by parents and
offering support and sympathy in an effort to "compensate". In the
case of an AD child, this is probably the worst possible thing an
educational professional could do.
AD child's perspective with "objective evidence" in order to
persuade her that her thinking is somehow incorrect. This approach
assumes that the teacher and child share a common view of "reality"-
not true. The teacher's view will make little or no sense to the AD
child. In fact, the AD child is apt to see this approach as a manipulative
attempt on the teacher's part to set the child up in some way.
Setting the parents up to be the "heavies" by leaving it
to parents and home to impose consequences for school infractions
or work not done.
Teachers taking AD children's behavior or statements personally.
This usually takes some practice as AD children are skilled at discovering
adults' tender spots and going after them.
Reacting emotionally to AD children's behavior. This only
reinforces the AD child's sense of being in control of the adult's
emotions ( a goal they generally pursue). This really takes some practice
as AD children's behavior can be relentless, day in-day out, as any
parent can testify.
Looking for THE answer. There is no "The Answer". "The answer"
leads to doing the same thing the same way every time. An AD child
will have a field day with such an approach.
INTERVENTIONS: WHAT DOES WORK
somewhat unpredictable on purpose. Such unpredictability is necessary
to get past the AD child's vast array of avoidance maneuvers. An adult
an AD child can predict is an adult an AD child will "work".
some rewards absolute and not contingent on anything. This effectively
subverts AD children's strong tendency to sabotage themselves and
thereby prove to the adults that they can't "make them succeed". (Example:
AD child participates in a "fun Friday" activity regardless of their
behavior, barring any safety concerns). This approach puts the child's
succeeding under the complete control of the teacher.
in the concept of "choice". Choice is an idea that is often
absent in AD children's thinking. It is not simply that they refuse
to accept responsibility- the ideas of people making choices and having
responsibility literally makes no sense to AD children. They need
to have it pointed out to them, matter-of-factly, over and over, that
they are making choices all the time. Then discussion can begin to
move towards making better vs. worse choices.
AD children with a matter-of-fact, firm, no nonsense, not hostile,
tone of voice. Directions should be phrased as directions, not questions
(Example: "Do." vs. "Would you...").
questions never to ask AD children:
Why did you...?
Do you remember...?
What did you say?
AD children can compose eloquent answers to adult questions that mean
absolutely nothing. A question to an AD child is too often an invitation
to trick an adult., It works much better to phrase statements as guesses
and let them react to the guess. (Example: rather than "Did you break
your pencil ?" try "I think you broke your pencil to get out of doing
your work."). AD children's reactions to guesses will tell you much
more than their answers to questions.
Keep praise very
concrete and specific and do not connect it substantive rewards. Use
humor to deflect AD children's attempts to be deliberately provocative.
Teachers should follow the parents' lead in matters of behavior
management. Parents will almost always have seen behavior far in excess
of anything the school will ever see. This gives parents irreplaceable
experiential knowledge about working with their child's behavior.
The school needs to partner seamlessly with home and parents in order
to undercut the AD child's considerable strategic wilyness. However,
school and home should be kept separate in some matters. Incidents
at school should be handled at school and not referred to the parents
to provide consequences at home in the evening unless this is part
of a collaborative plan arrived at beforehand. In general, parents
SHOULD NOT be expected to be intimately involved with nightly homework.
AD children will simply use "homework" as a stage to play out their
attachment related conflicts and everyone loses.
Use of the word "trick" to describe AD children's
strategic behavior works better than the more loaded words like "manipulative",
Become a good observer of AD children's nonverbal responses
(facial expressions, body position and movements, eyes, voice tone,
etc). These are the most accurate signs of what is going on inside
the child. If you listen only to what AD children say, you will go
in circles repeatedly, getting nowhere.
Act as historian for the AD child. As AD children live in
the moment, they need adults to remind them of past events that have
gone successfully to help them maintain more perspective on the present.