Family and school settings need to develop systems that define behavioral expectations and allow children to evaluate their successes and problems. This system needs to include a way for problem solving to occur. This will help children to learn how to recognize their hurt and repair the hurt in a relationship. Don’t you think that you would have benefited from this type of system? This will help children remain grounded in the rational mind-set that people who hurt others are accountable, and the relationship can be repaired through a problem resolution approach. The next two chapters will outline the categories from which these behavior expectations will be developed, along with strategies on selecting behaviors to improve a relationship. Individuals with psychiatric and developmental disabilities will also benefit from the same type of system.
The family or individual who wants to incorporate the behavioral expectations and problem-solving strategies outlined in the following chapters would need only to ensure that time is set aside each day to evaluate the positive or negative behaviors of all participants. This would also include time for problem solving to take place. In a school setting, additional factors will need to be considered when implementing this type of system.
Factor 1: Identifying Learning Differences
One factor that needs to be considered when this system is implemented in a school is the differences in how students learn based upon their developmental stage. Do you remember how you learned in the first years of school? Teachers will teach behavioral expectations and problem solving to children in early elementary school through indirect methods. This will include the use of stories and play activities to demonstrate each behavioral expectation. Once students reach the fourth grade, their teachers will utilize discussion times to teach expectations and to help students solve problems. As students enter middle and high school, the teacher will teach behavioral expectations and problem solving through role-plays and open group discussions initiated by the students. Students will need to test their views on morality and gain a sense of their identity and autonomy as they enter adolescence.
Factor 2: Teacher and Student Participation
The second factor that a school will need to consider while implementing this system is the level of participation by the teacher as compared to the student (again based upon the developmental stage of the student). Early elementary students will be less active in the development and evaluation of the behavioral expectations. The teacher will initiate most of the stories or play activities, depicting the behavioral expectations and prompting children to demonstrate them when relevant. The teacher will help students to evaluate how they met specific behavioral expectations and help them to identify and resolve problems. When students reach the fourth and fifth grades, the teacher will remain active in the development of behavioral expectations, but the students will be given more opportunities to evaluate whether they met the behavioral expectations. They will be provided opportunities to resolve conflicts with some guidance. In the middle and high schools, teachers will take a less active role in the development and evaluation of behavioral expectations. The teacher will ask the students to negotiate behavioral expectations based upon criteria presented in role-plays and open discussions. Students will choose expectations that will promote their meeting developmental needs.
Factor 3: Means of Evaluation
The third factor the school will need to consider while implementing this type of system is the means by which the students will evaluate their behavior and resolve issues when they fall short of the mark. For each group of students, teachers will utilize class and free periods to evaluate student behavior and conduct problem-solving activities. The elementary school students will have more opportunities to evaluate their behavior due to the smaller classroom sizes and fewer transitions to other classrooms during the school day. Teachers could use the beginning portion of a class to review behavioral expectations relevant to the activity, and then use the end of the class to review how students performed. Students could engage in problem-solving activities as problems occur.