This time of year if one of my students misbehaves I ask them “Was that the right thing to do?” Invariably their answer is “no”, because they know the rules and consequences and choose to misbehave anyway. Either the action is worth the consequences or they just hoped they would get away with it. There isn’t any “I forgot” nonsense in April.
Most students who intentionally misbehave quickly learn to wait until the teacher is talking to another student or grading papers or writing on the board. They get in the back of the line so they can misbehave as we go around a corner. They stay in the bathroom to talk and play. They hide, sneak, maneuver.
And, unfortunately, students who intentionally misbehave learn to lie. Some do it quite well. They don’t just tell defensive lies. They plan their lies and use them to manipulate others.
Many of these children go on to become chronic behavior problems, bullies, and even criminals.
I‘ve been thinking about this because I’ve been reading and researching three serious mental conditions that can often be recognized by the age of four. Wouldn’t it be great if we actually did that, gave them the support and training they need, and changed the behavior of some of them…instead of waiting until they harm someone and saying, “I wonder why he did that?” We place so much emphasis on testing and intervention for academic problems. Why shouldn’t we care just as much about mental and emotional problems? Just a thought…