Pay Attention to What You Want More Of

Pay Attention to What You Want More Of
by Will Henson PsyD

There’s a simple rule I use when working with kids of all kinds – I pay attention to behaviors I want to see more of. And conversely, I don’t pay attention to behaviors I don’t want. Many educators I’ve observed pay positive attention (e.g praise) to behaviors they like and negative attention (e.g confrontation) to ones they don’t. The problem is that if you do the latter you are letting the child direct your attention, and often the inappropriate behavior is an invitation to you to attend to them in a negative way – such as a power struggle.

Try this instead: Show a lot of interest in a student when they are doing what is expected or engaging in an appropriate behavior. When a behavior you don’t want occurs, meet it with a level of disinterest such that you don’t even acknowledge it. In fact, act as if you don’t even see it. After a while, kids will learn they quickly lose your attention when you are misbehaving. Try it and see what happens!

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