Punishing Misbehavior?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Tyler B., Nov 19, 2013.

  1. Tyler B.

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    Nov 19, 2013

    I just read that the more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) a child has, the more likely that child is to misbehave. The theory goes that a child who acts up as a reaction to toxic stress can no more control the bad behavior than a blind child who can not see.

    If bad behavior is out of the child's control, then punishment only makes things worse: like punishing a blind child for not seeing.

    Instead of punishment, these traumatized children should be taught in ways to help them learn despite the brain and body changes caused by ACEs.

    I wonder what my colleagues think about this.

    Here's free book on the subject.
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

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    Sounds like a load of bunk to me. Just more excuses for bad behavior.
     
  4. Pashtun

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    I have found in my experiences that children with "chronic" behavior problems do not respond to many forms of "punishment". I am yet to see suspension modify a child with chronic behavior problems.

    I am in favor of consequences, I just have not found them very effective for changing behaviors of chronic behavior problem children.

    Punishment and consequences work wonders for students who are typically well behaved but make a few poor choices.

    These are my experiences.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I agree with this.

    If punishments and typical consequences worked, these kids wouldn't have chronic behavior problems.
     
  6. Go Blue!

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    Exactly. I've seen plenty of students with chronic behavior problems who are always getting in trouble, quickly get their act together in front of their guardians. These kids are able to control their behavior, actions, and language when they want but they are choosing to misbehave in school because they know they can.

    Often, it is us - the adults - that blame the kid's behavior on their backgrounds/home life circumstances. I guess that's better than blaming the child for their behavior and have them take responsibility for their own behavior.
     
  7. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Then the question is begged:

    What does one do with students with "chronic" poor behavior?

    "Chronic" shoplifters. "Chronic" ID thieves, etc. Do we NOT punish them? Yes, we can imprison them to take them out of circulation for a while. And perhaps attempt to "reform" them... but if that worked, then we'd have fewer ID thieves and shoplifters, right?
     
  8. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I know you're saying that sarcastically, but I tend to agree.

    There needs to be a sense of accountability.

    "Tommy lies because he grew up with a father who lied all the time."

    Okay... granted. I get that could be the reason and it makes perfect sense.

    But the fact of the matter is: Tommy lies. Is it Dad's fault? Okay, sure. It's Dad's fault. But when all is said and done... Tommy is a liar. I refuse to comfort him and tell him that he's not to blame for lying; the truth is: he IS to blame. He makes conscious choices to lie (unless he's a pathological liar and in that case, it's most likely a mental disorder). The apple may not always fall far from the tree, but it can fall and roll away from the tree.

    I believe in natural consequences and I believe children should be held accountable for their behavior.

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned.
     
  9. Go Blue!

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    Oh, I'm dead serious. One of the biggest issues I see in my school and in my district is that everything is the teacher's fault. Everything.

    When a student is misbehaving it is because ... the teacher's class is too boring, the class is not challenging enough, the class is moving too fast, the teacher is not offering enough one-on-one attention, the teacher is not dressed in a clown suit and dancing all period which means she is not trying hard enough to keep the kids entertained, etc.

    When a student is failing it is because ... the rigor (which we are told we must teach with) and our standards are too high, the rigor and our standards are too low, we are counting/grading too many assignments, we are not counting enough assignments, we are not letting kids make up the assignments they missed because they were sleeping or talking all class period, etc.

    And don't let a fight happen in your class. When students start fighting that's because "the teacher is not teaching." My Admin loves to say that if the kids were actively learning all the time, we wouldn't have any fights. Ok.:rolleyes:

    In fact, I had an 18 year old Senior tell me that the reason he comes to first period over an hour late everyday is because no one wakes him up at home. Thus, since it is not his fault he's late (and he MUST graduate this year), I have to give him all the work he misses and give him "a fair amount of time to make it up." Surprisingly, this same kid says he is never late to his job.

    There is no sense of student responsibility at all.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    Exactly!

    I have had so many behavior problem students in my classroom that never gave me a bit of trouble. I've had plenty that did, of course, but it was amazing how different they behaved in my room than others'. I've even had students have their schedules changed because it was believed that they did poorly for Teacher X due to timing - Johnny's medicine hasn't kicked in by first block; Sally's medicine has worn off by fourth block, etc. And even with the schedule change so I get the "bad" time with the students, they did better for me than the other classes.

    I've had students that chose to behavior horribly for me yet do great for other teachers. All of these students CHOSE to behave poorly for whatever teachers. Either because they knew they could and get away with it, or because they felt justified in doing so because of personality conflicts.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

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    I truly believe that if the consequences were enough of a deterrent, there wouldn't be that many to start and there would be much fewer repeat offenders.

    My second child misbehaved far less than her brother, especially with "big" things, because she watched her older sibling get punished for his behavior.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Nov 19, 2013

    To which you respond: "Gosh, I'm sorry... I had your missing work all set on my kitchen counter, but my husband/wife forgot to put it in my backpack. It's his/her fault."
     
  13. Major

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    Nov 19, 2013

    I wonder how they handle misbehavior in Japan? Just curious. (I really don't know but I've haven't read a lot about misbehaving students over there.)
     
  14. AdamnJakesMommy

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    I think out of school suspensions should only be utilize if the student is a danger to the school or people in it--in which case a more permanent solution needs to be applied.

    I think ISS for most other issues. I remember when I was in high school I knew everything, didn't need to be there, and didn't want to be there. One time I got into a fight with a girl and got suspended--PA-RT-Y time, now not only did I not want to go to school--but they wouldn't let me! :) Loved it. Sure I got into tons of trouble, but ultimately I got the gift of sleeping in, staying in my pjs all day, etc. My mom had to work, it wasn't like she could have me do work all day.
     
  15. Go Blue!

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    I wish. Admin is the one telling me I can't hold lateness against him, that he can't fail for being late, that he must be allowed to make up all the missing work. Admin called me into her office because she knew he was chronically late and she wanted to make sure he was not going to fail. Basically, the conversation was "ok, ignoring his lateness, what can we do to ensure he passes?"
     
  16. Croissant

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    You know, I get so annoyed when the "rough home life" excuse is thrown around by kids and/or adults. I had my share of "ACE" throughout my entire childhood. I kept straight A's, was never once written up, was extremely active in extracurriculars, and graduated top ten in my class. We are creating our own problems (an those of our students) by creating such excuses.
     
  17. Go Blue!

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    In the schools where I have worked, ISS has always been a nightmare for us (staff) to run but, for some kids, a joy to be in. Its impossible to force the child to do work or stay awake. And, since most of our kids take public transportation, we cannot force them to stay too late after school because they might miss their bus.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

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    ISS has been a joke in some of the places I've worked.
     
  19. Ash Inc

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    I feel like out of school suspensions are tricky because, like you said, it's almost like a vacation for the student. I think the biggest way for it to be effective comes down to the parents. If the kids simply get a day (or week) off of school, then nothing is learned from it. But if the parents are making sure this is no 'holiday', then maybe the child will learn something and not want to get suspended again.

    I remember I had a student who probably had about 10 suspensions in one semester, ranging from 1 school day to 7 school days each time. It did nothing to curb his behaviour. His teachers (myself included) would send home work for him to complete while absent and absolutely nothing would get done, despite being off for "x" amount of time. So in this case, the suspensions clearly did nothing. He didn't do any work while absent, and it didn't improve his behaviour whatsoever.

    While ISS would likely be more of a consequence for the student because they don't get to relax at home, it could potentially be a nightmare for the staff, as someone mentioned. If these students continue to misbehave and refuse to do any work, then it's almost like the teachers supervising them are the ones getting punished because they have to put up with this. It's a tough one...
     
  20. Special-t

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    To those who want to punish ....

    (This is referring to children who have been traumatized -beyond having a tough home life.) If a child truly has been traumatized, then of course they could have issues that manifest in behavioral problems. This kind of reaction to traumatization is a well-documented result - not an excuse. I think it's pretty obvious that further punishing a child like this would just cause more trauma and keep the reactive cycle going.

    Of course, some children will internalize traumatic events (particularly ongoing trauma) differently, depending upon their own personal qualities. But a child who has been subjected to trauma (ongoing or sudden) did not go looking for an excuse to misbehave. They are victims whose brains are still forming and who are still going through developmental phases.

    I also find the concept of "punish" to be severe. Are we as teachers ever supposed to punish students? In my opinion, we should be looking for ways to modify behavior - not punish.
     
  21. EdEd

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    Honestly I think this conversation is rather unproductive as "punishment" isn't a singular thing. It depends on how, when, and with whom it's used. Punishment does work with some kids, and not with others. We've all experienced situations where punishment has worked, and times when it hasn't.

    To the OP (Tyler), I agree that punishment can have that effect, but it doesn't always.
     
  22. EdEd

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    It just depends on the person. Sometimes it may be an excuse, but sometimes not. Not saying we shouldn't have high expectations from kids with environmental stressors, but if we're going to academically talk about understanding behavior, we have to understand that home life has an impact.
     
  23. Ted

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    I prefer the word "discipline", because of its root word: "disciple"...and thus, it contributes to teaching.
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    But often punishment is used in school because there is no teaching component to it. There are many times no one cares about the why it happened and then work with the student to find alternatives, it often is just a consequence with an order to not do it again.
     
  25. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Perhaps.

    But I do my best not to be one of those who doesn't care. I do try to get to the root of the situation. Not all teachers fall into your "often", or "no one cares" statement.

    But when I have 31 students, I'll be honest. When a child smacks another child with a ruler, no... I don't interview the kid and ask him about his upbringing, or how his home life is. I don't dive into his cum file to see what other teachers have done in the past. I simply send him to the office and/or give him a referral.

    If I had 10 students, maybe that would be different. I don't know. I'll never know.

    We're teachers and we're humans. We do our best (but perhaps some do better than their best).
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Ted,
    If you don't fit the group, it doesn't mean the group doesn't exist. If you don't fit in the group, then I'm not sure why you are defensive.
     
  27. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Does that kid have a cellphone? Probably does. It has an alarm clock feature. Maybe someone should show him how to set it. LOL I use my cellphone's alarm clock.
     
  28. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    He's too busy texting with it during classes. ;)
     
  29. Rockguykev

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    I love that we fight for high expectations in academics and then do everything we can to have no expectations in behavior.

    Yes, people should be punished for bad behavior. Welcome to society.
     
  30. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I often wonder if we take it to the extreme... if we coddle too much?

    For example, at my school each year we have a talent show. Not the typical talent show (where students actually AUDITION to see if their talent is worthy enough by a panel of judges) --- but anybody who wants to be in it may be in it.

    I kid you not... one year we had a student say the alphabet. Not in Latin, or backwards. Just the alphabet. Why? Because we knew parents would be upset if we exempt any child. Because "every child is special" (which means no child is special).

    Sorry for slightly derailing the thread. But my point is that while I agree we should look at a child's background and home life, I agree with Kev above. If a child has demonstrated bad behavior, there should be negative consequences and, if we were to go by Google's definition: "inflict a penalty or sanction on (someone) as retribution for an offense, esp. a transgression of a legal or moral code." then yes... it could be called "punishment".
     
  31. EdEd

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    There is a difference between coddling and strategically using other strategies than punishment. Rockguykev, high expectations doesn't mean that the only response to not meeting expectations is punishment. If you had high expectations for a student academically, but the student didn't meet the expectations despite trying hard, would you punish?

    My point is that punishment isn't bad, but it isn't the uniform response to all poor behavior.

    I also think people have an emotional attachment to punishment similar to revenge. When kids misbehavior and seem to not care, we feel resentment that they have taken something away from the community, including ourselves. Emotional desire to punish I think stems from this resentment, which is - at its core - not focused on helping the child and the overall situation. Note that this does NOT mean I don't support punishment. I do. But, the choice of punishment should come out of a neutral position of strategy, not because a child "deserves it."
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

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    I'm not sure THAT Ted's post was "defensive" - more precisely, it wasn't defensive, and I'm reasonably sure on the strength of his posting history that he himself is not a defensive person, either.

    Imputing defensiveness to a person on the basis of that person's expressed opinion is likely to be construed as an attempt to punish that person for expressing that opinion. If you didn't intend that, I'll recommend lightening up the you-language and mending some fences.
     
  33. ku_alum

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    I may be too late to the discussion for this to matter ... but, as someone who graduated from one of the few programs in the nation in behavior analysis, I need to add this ...

    We must be careful with saying things like, "punishment doesn't work," ... that is a false statement.

    Punishment is defined as the process in which a consequence that immediately follows the behavior decreases the future frequency of the behavior.

    So ... do we sometimes apply consequences and the behavior occurs again (didn't have effect intended)? Yep. In those cases, the consequence cannot be called a punisher/punishment.

    Factors that increase the likelihood that a consequence is a punishment: Immediacy, Consistency, Intensity.

    Immediacy - must occur immediately after behavior - not a few seconds after ... how often do we meet the immediacy requirement? Not often.

    Consistency - must occur consistently after behavior ... each time behavior occurs, consequence must be applied ... how often do we meet the consistency requirement? May be better here, but still not ALWAYS consistent in EVERY environment.

    Intensity - must occur with intensity ... ramping up the intensity of a consequence is one of the best ways to make sure a behavior CONTINUES (the opposite effect intended). How often do we meet the intensity requirement? Again, not often.

    So, to repeat, saying "punishment doesn't work" is a false statement. The correct statement would be "the consequence applied didn't serve as a punishment."
     
  34. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    I find behavior analysis so interesting.

    Your above quote - would you then suggest to LOWER the intensity each time or to keep the intensity consistently the same? (Since you said ramping up the intensity has the opposite effect)? You stated we often don't meet the intensity requirement, but I'm clear what that requirement is.

    I'm not being sarcastic. Far from it, I really am interested in this and how I can become a better teacher (if I can understand it).

    Thank you! :)
     
  35. EdEd

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    ku_alum I appreciate the technical explanation :). As Ted mentioned, I'd question your statement about the connection between intensity of consequence intended as punishment and reduction of behavior. This is not my understanding of the research, nor my experience. Could you explain more?
     
  36. ku_alum

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    It should remain consistent. If it requires multiple applications, the consequence is not serving as a punisher.

    I don't know how to explain the intensity requirement well. I've always struggled with that explanation without going into descriptions of experiments that show frequency of behavior (and efficiency of behavior change) in relation to intensity of consequence. AND, AN IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert on punishment. I haven't officially researched it. I refer to a study from the late 60s with rats and electric shock (when one gets into different schedules of consequences, I am out of my league). The methods I used "back in my days as a BA" only involved reinforcement.

    Maybe some examples will help? (or not) ... still won't provide specifics ...

    -- Positive punishment of swat on the hand vs. a hard slap across the face (I know, I know ... this is just for the sake of explaining).

    -- Negative punishment of a child losing 1 evening's access to his PlayStation vs. a child's room being emptied of EVERYTHING except a mattress for a month.

    An example that sometimes helps with understanding all three factors that influence punishment: You almost always speed in your car. One time, you get pulled over and ticketed for speeding (consistency issue - not pulled over EVERY time you speed) ... You pay your ticket a month later (immediacy issue - 30 days have passed between your consequence and your misbehavior) ... You pay $90 (may be an intensity issue depending on one's budget). IF YOU CONTINUE TO SPEED IN FUTURE DRIVING SITUATIONS ... you were not punished.

    COMPARE above scenario with this one: You get caught speeding the VERY FIRST time you speed, you are IMMEDIATELY put in the backseat of a cop car, and jailed for 20 days (INTENSITY). If you never speed again, the event was punishment. If you continue to speed, you have not been punished.

    My stance on punishment: for it to be done correctly, it comes with a lot of adverse effects and should be avoided if possible.

    Potential side effects of punishment:
    -- aggression
    -- avoidance
    -- fear
    -- injury

    (I think) most behavior analysts would advocate using punishment only as a last resort to other methods (e.g. reinforcement of appropriate behavior, shaping appropriate behavior).

    When punishment is used, it is very important to teach an appropriate behavior to replace the inappropriate one.

    Punishment (when using the word like a behavior analyst would) is VERY tricky stuff.
     
  37. Ted

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    ku_alum, thanks for taking time out of your day to give such a thorough explanation. I truly appreciate the examples and your analysis of punishment, as practice.

    As a teacher, I find it's quite difficult to find that fine line. I want my students to behave in such a way. Often, I try to find the good, strong traits and bring those to light, praising generously and often. I have seen this backfire and get an almost "Well, I just earned kudos from Mr. M., so now I can act up a bit, since I've made a deposit in the account." Of course, those students who are "naturally" prone to behave appropriately take that praise and thrive off it...striving to do even more good behavior. Those who naturally don't care one way or the other, will use that and sabotage the whole group.

    Nineteen years of teaching and I'm not sure I'm any better a teacher than year one. :) I get many compliments and I have a reputation for being very strict... but I'm "old school" and not always sure I'm doing what's best for my kids. And that's what I want to do.

    I may never become the "best teacher" in regards to behavior modification but... as I said earlier --- I'm human and I can only do my best. :)
     
  38. Go Blue!

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    LOL. He sure does; he's always bragging about his "IG Life.":rolleyes::lol:
     
  39. EdEd

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    ku_alum - again, great write up! I do think it's important to be more technical with behavioral strategies as there are a lot of informal myths about what works and what doesn't. I appreciate that you are rooting your practice in the base of evidence available.

    I think we largely agree in our understanding of the literature. I still would disagree that great intensity of punishment results in higher rates of undesirable behavior. Your speeding ticket is a great example - imagine if tickets were $5,000. I would imagine folks would speed a lot less.

    I'm also not sure what you mean by "multiple applications" not serving as a punisher. My experience has been that punishment often requires multiple applications to build a consistent understanding of what will happen if undesirable behavior occurs. A child may not respond to a "first application" (e.g., might see it as a fluke), but is probably more likely to respond if s/he sees the consequence as consistently occurring. This actually relates back to your comment about consistency - consistency wouldn't be as much of an issue if a punishment were always expected to be effective by the first application.

    Finally, I might say that I also disagree with punishment as a last resort. While I agree that more intense punishment can come with some serious side effects, mild punishment - especially the kind that would typically occur in a day-to-day classroom environment - is not as likely to produce such results, and is probably more efficient than a reinforcement-only approach. Evidence supporting response-cost systems would support this approach.

    I definitely agree that reinforcement/instruction should be the most salient component of any behavior support plan, but if a teacher completely avoids punishment until the last resort is needed, I think more problems may be created than avoided. Another way of conceptualizing this is that most kids are very used to at least mild forms of punishment - the complete absence of any teacher-administered punishment may likely lead kids perceiving that environment as much more permissive than desired.

    More generally, I think it's important to keep in mind that a lot of the ABA research done (including the one study with rats you mentioned) was done in very different environments from classrooms, and with different behavioral issues than ones typically experienced in a general classroom environment. With kids, a lot of the initial ABA literature was done with kids with low incidence disabilities experiencing severe behavioral problems with very low communication skills, with punishments used often being much more intense than typical classroom response costs items such as lost minutes of recess, points/tokens, etc. There are certainly some universal truths within the ABA literature, but some that may not generalize as well to typical classroom environments.
     
  40. Special-t

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    Nov 20, 2013

    Well said.
     
  41. EdEd

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    Thanks :)
     

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