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Teachers: Are You Still Using Yesterday’s Teacher Training to Manage Today’s Difficult Student

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Teachers, when you received your training to teach,
the world probably looked much different. Guns
meant water pistols and gangs meant West Side Story.

Here is a test to see if your skills have kept up with
the changes in our kids. If you discover that you are
more prepared to work with Beaver Cleaver than Beavis
and Butthead, then consider coming to our Problem
Student Problem-Solver professional development
training workshop or
ordering some of our books and tapes. Our resources
can turbo-charge your skills to fit contemporary kids.

The answers are shown below and at the bottom, you
can also rate your skills for working with today’s
youth and children.

** 1. Who is the hardest-to-manage, most potentially
violent kid, and how must you work with them
differently than everybody else?

**** Bonus Question: If you work with this hardest-
to-manage child using the same approaches you use
with everyone else, what is likely to happen?

** 2. There may be just 3 major ways that kids can
respond to adult directions. Name the 3 ways.

**** Bonus Question: What is the only effective
way to get children to comply with adult directions?

** 3. Name the student most likely to drop out.

**** Bonus Question: What other problems will
this child quite likely face?

** 4. Who are the kids at highest risk of extreme

**** Bonus Question: Why do you work differently
with each of these kids?

** 5. Other than violence prevention, name the
single most important school readiness skill to
teach to students. (Hint: Most schools don’t have
a formal plan to teach it, but they all require it)

**** Bonus Question: When is the time to teach
this skill?


Conduct disorder is a mental health term that
essentially means that the child is sociopathic.
While you can continue to successfully use
relationship-based approaches with any other
child, these methods almost inevitably flop
with conduct disorders who, by definition,
can’t relate normally to others.

Bonus Question: If you use conventional
relationship-based approaches with conduct
disorders, it conveys to them that you do
not understand them. It may be close to
painting a target on your chest. Actions
that are normally appropriate under some
circumstances, such as giving one more
chance, can be dangerous even disastrous
with conduct disorders. If you do not know
this child backwards and forwards, you may
lack key tools to ensure your safety and
the safety of other children.

2. The child can become OPPOSITIONAL.
The child can CAPTIULATE if coerced to
do so. The child can comply: ACCEPTANCE.

Bonus Question: Acceptance is really the
only way to gain compliance. Power-
struggling with oppositional kids means
everyone loses especially you as no adult
ever wins a power struggle with a kid. If
you must hassle and harass a kid into
capitulating, that is not a positive
way of interacting with others that
you want the child to emulate as it
will normally not work in the world.
Plus, imagine the harm you might
do hassling a troubled child by
coercing compliance from them.
Acceptance is the standard that works
everywhere and won’t damage even a
very vulnerable child while gaining their


Bonus Question: Teen moms also have
the highest risk of poverty, going on
welfare and never getting off of
welfare when compared to anyone else.
Shouldn’t everyone know who is the
one child at highest risk of dropping
out and be aware of the potential
additional litany of woes?


Bonus Question: Each of these 3 children
needs a very different kind of help. For
example, the thought-disordered child
might be able to benefit tremendously
from medication, while there is no medicine
for conduct disorders. This means that to
best prevent extreme violence, you must
understand how to work with different kids
very differently.

If the student isn’t in your classroom, you
can’t work your magic on them
Bonus Question: Day 1 of school. It’s that

SCORING: (Score 1 point for each
question or bonus question)
8-10 You’re READY for even the
“South Park” kids!
5-8 You’re DUE for a Training Update!
0-4 You’re OVERDUE for a
Training Update!

If this article has made you realize that
you are using yesterday’s methods with
today’s students, you may want to see what
updated teacher training looks like. Take
a look at, and
discover how you can fill in the gaps in
your training so working with difficult,
conduct disordered, angry, truant and
agitated students doesn’t have to be so

Get much more information on this topic at Author Ruth
Herman Wells MS is the director of Youth Change,
( Sign up for her free
Problem-Kid Problem-Solver magazine at the site and
see hundreds more of her innovative methods. Ruth
is the author of dozens of books and provides workshops and training.
For re-print permission for this article, contact the author by

email ([email protected])


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