Help children bounce back from Negative Behaviors
Failing students and the snowball theory - Episode 007
For a child who struggles in school – with behavior issues or with completing assignments on time, it can build into something bigger than a student can handle on their own. But, as parents or educators, you can help boys and girls who struggle to make positive changes and feel less pain.
It’s no fun to be the kid who is known for not turning in homework or scoring low on tests. It’s no fun to be the teacher who knows a student has this reputation, or the parent who may be at the end of their rope and feeling lost when it comes to helping their son or daughter to improve and shed that image.
As counselors and parents, the question becomes this: how do you help students to build momentum around positive behaviors, instead of the negative? How do you help students shift ?
I have an answer for your question. It’s admittedly one that my students in Florida make fun of because they don’t actually get snow that often. My preferred theory is the “snowball theory.”
Let’s Chat about Yellow Snow and Snowballs
When we see a student with months of bad grades or behavior – or even years – the idea of changing those patterns can be overwhelming – for parents and teachers AND the student. So, I say you need to think of it like you’re building a snowball.
There’s the negative ball that comes from small flakes - like a missing mark here, a referral there, shouting out in class. Taken individually, they’re not that bad, a student can brush them off and keep going.
But, if you let it keep building, eventually, you’ll find that it creates a giant snowball of behaviors – and that’s often what we as parents and educators see.
When someone comes to me with this problem, I acknowledge the snowball of negative behaviors. But, I like helping students and parents to build another snowball. It’s as simple as saying “let’s just do one missing assignment. Let’s try to show up in class with a pencil. Let’s just try to have a day in class where we concentrate on a different behavior.”
What to do when the Snowball gets Away
Over time, you do start to see changes in behavior, and kids feel great. But, I also see students hit another wall, and they lose momentum. Maybe they were sassy in class, maybe they didn’t do a project. It’s often then that people are reminded of the old snowball. What we don’t want to see is that kid who is working on new behavior, slip up –and they feel like they’ve been whacked with a newspaper like a puppy that misbehaves. We don’t want them to think “well, this is hopeless!” and give up.
Instead, I’ve told my students (and clients) this:
“Don’t let it stop your progress, because it takes time. You’ll start to see buildup of positive little snowflakes, and soon, they’ll be thinking ‘Oh! This kid has a snowball of awesome! There may be 1-2 peed on snowflakes, but it’s mostly awesome.’ Don’t throw away good progress and think that no one is going to see it. It is appreciated, and you are working on change. That is awesome.”
Eventually that new snowball is what everyone will see.
Help your Child Build a Better Snowball
If you have a child or student with not-so-fabulous habits, but can see that they’re trying to change, there are a few things you can do to help them keep the momentum:
· Celebrate the progress. Even if there are slipups, celebrate how far they’ve come. Cheer the process that they took to get to that point.
· Acknowledge slipups. But, don’t let that student use the slip up to give up. I tell students that they’re human. Everyone is entitled to a bad day. They’re still dealing with the big snowball of negative issues, and building a new snowball of good. Just keep pushing forward. I also know that there are two choices – continuing on the negative path, or making the effort to try to correct myself.
· Ask how it felt when they did the positive stuff. If you get curious with no expectations about what they’re going to say, it can help to build the positive.
If you’re reading this on podcast release day, you still have time to get in on the Homework Playbook virtual workshop, but not much! The Homework Playbook is designed to help parents bring their best attitude and skills to your child’s homework time. It covers things like the science behind learning, executive functions, and communication.
Visit The Homework Playbook to learn more, but hurry!
The Homework Playbook workshop for parents
How to help students shift from negative to positive behaviors
Overcoming setbacks in behavioral changes
Marni Pasch | Academic Coach | Team Pasch Academic Coaching and host of School Counselor Gone Rogue
I work with students in grades 6th and higher, who struggle with academic confidence and motivation. I help them survive school with less stress by helping them create concrete goals, tackle procrastination and learn creative study techniques. I empower students to take charge of their education and reach their goals. I do this through individual or group coaching so students achieve success in life, school, career readiness and their social endeavors.