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What about student behavior?

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

One week we hear about violence and guns in schools, the next we hear about vandalism, students being more aggressive, etc. Principals and superintendents send messages to the community and families stating that they are working on addressing the problem and request that families address the behavior with their children. Principals ask that families monitor their children's social media activity where children are observed posting about their "accomplishments" - such as destruction of school property.

All these efforts are geared towards addressing the behavior, yet none go to the root cause. For the behavior to change permanently, we need to get to the root cause or any improvement in behavior will likely be temporary. We see this pattern all the time, with students temporarily improving their grades or behavior at home as a result of a threat of discipline, a prized possession taken away, or even positive reinforcement. But somehow the change in behavior - if it occurs - is only temporary.

We shall ask ourselves why is that? First, we must recognize that over 96% of our behavior is habitual and that those habits are driven by our subconscious. What is our subconscious exactly you may ask? It is the part of our mind that is not conscious, that acts almost like on auto-pilot and controls our actions.

More importantly, paradigms (a composite of habits and beliefs) and our self-image reside in our subconscious. How we view ourselves, how we view the world and view ourselves in this world control of our behavior. So if we want to change our students' behavior, we need to understand and help the student understand their own paradigms and self-image. That's part of a growth mindset.

Let's say a student has a poor self-image, has an inferior view of himself or herself in relation to others and this world. This image will be anchored in the student's subconscious and the negative feelings deriving from that perception will cause the student to act accordingly, whether that student displays very poor social skills or whether they overcompensate for their "inferior" self-image and do things to get attention, bully others, destroy property, etc.

So while metal detectors, dogs, prevention programs, asking parents to monitor their child's social media accounts are all measures aiming at addressing the issue, they are simply control points - leaving the root cause unaddressed which will find another way to express itself.

If we want our children to be successful, our schools to be safe, our schools (including people and property) to be respected, we must work with each student on their self-image and paradigms. How they view the world, their beliefs about this world, how they view themselves and how they view themselves in this world has a tremendous impact on behavior. If a child believes that they will gain peer recognition, some sense of superiority and control in vandalizing a school bathroom, then they will naturally do so regardless of "rules."

Educators, school administrators and staff, let us be the instrument of change, let us truly "educate" our children by teaching them who they are, recognizing their thoughts and self-image and teach them how to replace that self-image with a positive one that will lead to positive behavior. Dream Into Success is here for you as a partner in this journey.

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