Sunday, February 6, 2011

Passive Aggressive Kids

Kids get discouraged at school.

Their discouragement can take many forms. We might see sad faces, tears of frustration, or even anger “acted out” and directed at classmates or, worse, at the teacher.

More and more these days, I see anger “acted in” as depression. Some kids exhibit their discouragement by giving up. They become passive-aggressive, and begin refusing to do their work.

From the teacher’s point of view, passive aggressive behavior can appear to be defiance. But look just under the surface of that “defiance.” You will see  a hurt and sad child who hasn’t gotten the help he or she needs to succeed at school.

I interpret passive aggressive behavior as a signal to find another way to give additional support. The kid who sits at his desk with an empty paper is really hurting. He needs more help than I’ve managed to give so far.

I remind myself, the student who tries and fails is better than the student who makes no effort to succeed.

As his teacher, I share in the failures of my students.

My job is to coax my student back into the batter’s box. I’ve got to take the heat and the curves off the lessons I've thrown. I’ve got to lob something he can connect with right over the heart of the plate.

He’s going to need more than three strikes.

That’s okay. We’re still in batting practice, and we’re on the same team.


S. Parker said...

Thank you for this reminder. I always let my students know that it is okay to make mistakes. It tells me how I can help them. I also let them know that I make mistakes, too.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks for leaving a comment S. Parker. I think it's very important to let students know that we do make mistakes. Mistakes, if learned from, help us on our path.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is what is happening with my child? The teacher told me in 2nd week of kindergarten that he was pouting when other kids would interrupt his play time so she told him that he was too old to do this and would have to go to baby school if he didn't stop. Now he refuses to do anything, often. The teacher says he is a bully and aggressive (he is oldest in his class with a birthday right after the cut off--so he started at age 5 then turned 6 within 2 weeks). Teacher says it's classic adjustment to longer school days and lack of discipline. The problem is, and I didn't tell her this because she sat me down and very matter of factly told me this with an air of superiority I felt. The problem is he has been in day care since 6 weeks old thru age 5 for longer days (7am-6pm) and I have a serious of yearly reports of him being a great listener, follows rules, good at transitions, etc...

But she is not lying. He admits to pushing, hitting, and refusing to do work because of silly slights. He constantly hits a girl who is teeny tiny for 5 maybe she is 3 feet tall if that, for things like 'she pulled my shirt'. He is in community center after care and he has no problems there or in soccer or playgrounds etc...

It is totally school related. He is struggling to read and doesn't know any letter sounds and still gets the alphabet song incorrect. They think he could have dyslexia. sorry so long. I just heard again today from him but not school that he got sent to principals office because it was his turn to turn off lights and the little girl did it instead even though it was on calender as his day so then he pushed her and got sent to office...So frustrating because I don't know how to stop his actions. we talk about being frustrated and using words but often what he can say (expressive language) is so much less than he wants to say...