Stages of development are our ally. The younger the child the more rapidly they are willing to forgive. Likewise, the younger the child the more difficult it will be for them to process what they did, and how to correct the behavior.
If it is the parent that has violated family or societal values, forgiveness must be sought by the offending adult. The further along the chronological scale a child moves the more difficult it is to obtain healing between youngsters and adults. The greater the duration between the offense and the sincere admission of wrong on the part of the parent, the harder forgiveness becomes and the greater the separation.
Outlined below are the various levels of emotional identity children share with parents and other adults. This outline helps parents identify why their children might be responding in a certain way, knowing that their responses are reflected in the stage of their development. When the parent knows what their child’s emotional needs are, the parent is then prepared to respond in a way that stabilizes the relationship.
|Age Level||Role Identification|
|5–9 – Primary||Parent Figure|
|10–13 – Pre-Adolescent||Parent/Authority Figure|
|14–19 – Adolescent||Authority Figure|
|20+ – Young Adults to Adult||Coequal|
Source: (Korb, 2012, Motivating Defiant and Disruptive Students to Learn, pg. 4-5)
A child in the primary years of development will not usually retain memories of a broken relationship with their parents or adults. These youngsters are very forgiving and prepared to move on from a hurtful experience. They are preconditioned in their cognitive development, as a natural defense system, due to their limited experiences in life to retain and process the logic behind a hurtful experience. This age child is quick to forgive, yet not always able to state their feeling of forgiveness. Strauch, B. (2004). The primal teen. New York, NY: Anchor Books.
It is the parent’s responsibility to initiate and model the healing process. Admission of guilt is the first stage in healing the relationship. When a child has violated family or societal values, they might not be able to vocalize what they did. This is where the parent can introduce the process of admission of wrong, and steps for avoiding the error in the future.
Here is a strategy that will assist any youngster or adult. First, both parent and child must take a few minutes to calm themselves. It is best to have the child sit somewhere where they can process what took place. If at home, they should go to a room (their room should be avoided) or place where distractions will be the least. If in a public setting, find an isolated spot. Second, the youngster must be required to state or write how they violated the rules of acceptable conduct for the particular environment. Primary age youngsters will need assistance in drawing out the situation or writing dependent upon age. The parent or adult must not draw or write for the youngster. There is a necessary mental impression taking place when they observe their own drawing or writing. Third, one or two solutions, dependent upon age, must be provided to how they will avoid this situation in the future. These solutions must contain effective actions the youngster will take in avoiding a repeat in the behavior. The youngster must not be allowed to repeat the violation with trite responses. Example – I won’t do (the violation) again. They must explain how.
Our book – Motivating Defiant and Disruptive Student to Learn provides over 200 strategies that work in obtaining the responses you desire. This book is available at – www.pioneereducationconsulting.com, and www.corwin.com/books/Book237486. Questions about your particular situation can be sent to – Behavior Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Response will be provided within 24 hrs.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Rich Korb has thirty-three years of educational experience as a successful educator and consultant working with difficult and at-risk students. Rich is also a sought-after presenter, and author of Motivating Defiant and Disruptive Students to Learn, Powerful Strategies for Working Effectively with Difficult, Noncompliant Students, and Accelerating Achievement Through Purposeful Assessment. Rich is an adjunct faculty member for Seattle Pacific University and Brandman University Chapman University Systems, where he teaches a course in how to work with defiant and disruptive students.
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