Redirecting Negative Behavior

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany teachers, administrators and parents experience student misbehavior as a leading deterrent to effective, consistent learning. Not only is misbehavior found among the student population, it is also found among the school staff as well.  What do you do with adults and children when they:

  • Annoy and irritate you?
  • Anger and provoke you? 
  • Shock and hurt you? 
  • Create worry and pity in you?   
  • Shake your confidence?

Are you looking for ways to gain cooperation from them? Would you like to understand how you could affect change without diminishing yourself or them? Want effective alternatives to harshness or permissiveness when facing poor behavior? The alternative we promote is a tool called Redirecting Negative Behavior.


When misbehavior occurs, many people do not know what to think, say or do to be effective when others provoke the following feelings:

1. Annoyance and irritation. Someone cracks a joke at an inopportune time, taps a pencil repeatedly, stands at your door while you are busy, asks unnecessary questions or otherwise annoys and irritates you.

2. Anger. Someone rebels and resists, provoking power struggles either with an attitude of “No I won’t; you can’t make me!” or “Yes you will; I can and will make you!”

3. Shock and hurt. Someone makes you think, “What did I/they do to deserve that?!” They do or say something that feels like a personal attack on you or others.

4. Worry and pity. Someone is the human version of Eyore? They assume “I can’t” and refuse to try. Their behavior communicates, “Just leave me alone”. They look and act pathetic. They under-perform and are frequently ill, isolated, and calamitous.

5. Uncertainty and inadequacy. Someone acts as if you are stupid and you feel tempted to gossip about, discount or criticize him or her. They make your hackles rise with their smug, condescending tone of voice and body language that they aim at you or others.

Most school staff, in an effort to improve misbehavior, react and draw upon controlling, harsh, disrespectful and counterproductive methods, or they ignore and enable. Neither is helpful and both add greater discouragement, resulting in a negative spiral that leads to further challenges. When these do work, they only do so short-term to squelch behavior and they carry a high price tag.

Check out our online, audio, and live versions of our training and our Redirecting Negative Behavior bundle, including our phone app to make review and application effortless. We also have a series of articles on this topic.

LifeWork Systems provides abundant alternatives, tools and strategies that are not only effective at changing the presenting behavior, but resolve misbehavior at the root and improve the conditions and emotional intelligence of all who witness their use.