the acting out behavior cycle n.
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  2. The purpose of this model is to provide a description of the successive phases in an escalating chain of acting-out behavior involving a teacher and antisocial students. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  3. Common Assumptions • Teachers need to be in CONTROL! • Problems are addressed immediately and directly • Teacher uses putdowns and sarcasm, is confrontational • Teachers need to establish AUTHORITY! • Students need to be shown “who is boss” • Teacher threatens, is confrontational Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  4. Common Assumptions • Children must not get away with behavior, sends the wrong message to other students • Misbehavior needs to be addressed immediately and publicly • Students need to be settled down when they become agitated • Teachers should approach them with empathy, calm them down, return to responsibilities • Establishing “learned helplessness” or “rescuing” Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  5. Antisocial students carry high levels of agitation due to the various stresses they are exposed to, usually outside the school setting. • The agitated child is often viewed as a “walking time bomb”. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  6. Typically the precipitating factors, which lead to the child’s escalation of behavior, are as simple as asking questions or making requests. • Usually this is described by school staff as, “There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what sets the student off.” Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  7. In order for the student to progress through this cycle, the teacher must feed him with reciprocal behaviors. • The student’s challenging and arguing behaviors engage the teacher. • This leads to a costly cycle plagued with “reactive behavior” patterns. • “The conflict cycle is extremely disruptive and damaging to relationships.” Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  8. 1. The “Calm Before the Storm” • During this initial phase of the Acting-Out Cycle, the student exhibits cooperative, compliant and desirable behaviors. • The antisocial student seems to be conforming to the classroom rules and to teacher/peer expectations. • He is often described as a likable student who wants to please the teacher. • He can be extremely helpful around the classroom by participating responsibly and assisting others. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  9. Unfortunately, the teacher hesitates to call positive attention to the student because she does not want to “rock the boat”. • This also allows the opportunity for her to provide more attention to other students whom are so often neglected due to her exhaustive efforts in dealing with the demanding behaviors of the antisocial student(s). Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  10. Quite the contrary should happen. • The antisocial student will meet the most academic and social success during the “calm” phase. • The teacher should take full advantage of helping these students during these times. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  11. 2. “Fire in the Hole! • Igniters or “triggers” represents this phase, which set the student off. • The activators can either originate at home or school. • In either case, the student feels a sense of powerlessness or loss of control because a want or a need has been denied or an undesirable situation has been forced upon the student. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  12. The student perceives these situations as direct assaults against them, which may or may not be the case. • An inability to express their feelings effectively lead way to more destructive measures as an attempt to get their point across. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  13. A negative adult or peer response to the student’s misbehavior overshadows the original unmet need. • The student further feels victimized and becomes more agitated as he encounters a series of unresolved conflicts. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  14. Some possible school-based triggers may be; sudden changes in routine, intentional irritation by peers, academic, social and routine pressures and the overall lack of pro-social skills. • Home-based triggers may be due to lack of unmet physical and emotional needs. The student often comes from a dysfunctional home that is often plagued with all types of abuse and neglect. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  15. 3. “A Walking Time Bomb” • The antisocial student’s behavior during this phase has become increasingly “agitated”, is prolonged and is typified bya major inability to remain focused or concentrate on any given task. • The student is unable to participate in meaningful conversation. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  16. They may exhibit two separate sets of distinct behaviors. • The first is characterized by a high level of intensity, as evidenced by darting eyes and constant repetitive movements by their hands. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  17. The student may briefly attempt to engage in a task, but soon his attention is diverted. • A student displaying the second type is withdrawn and engages in isolated activities. • He often appears subdued and staring off into space. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  18. His hands are usually contained either by folding arms or putting them into their pockets. • The student avoids conversation and often mumbles when directly addressed. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  19. 4. “Cocked, Locked and Ready to Rock!” • During this phase of the cycle, the student’s behavior has “accelerated” and he is locked into very focused and specific behaviors. • The goal is to engage the teacher and he executes this with precision. • The antisocial student will participate in escalating behaviors that will ensure a quick and immediate response from the teacher. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  20. The student lures the teacher in by asking a question, not working, active resistance, purposefully getting arise out of his peers, whining, crying, sighing, moaning, avoiding activities, threatening, intimidating, cussing or destroying property. • The teacher engages herself by responding to the student’s challenging behavior, which sets the stage for the next phase. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  21. “Thar She Blows!” • At this point the student’s behavior has “peaked” and he is out of control. • The student exhibits behaviors that may cause serious destruction of property, assault, self-abuse and severe tantrums. • The student may exhibit physical symptoms of stress and agitation like a red face, agitation, yelling, crying and hyperventilation. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  22. 6. “Dazed and Confused” • During this phase the student’s behavior “de-escalates”. • The student begins to disengage from the power struggle and becomes increasingly less agitated. • The student is essentially “coming down” from a destructive high. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  23. At first, the student demonstrates behaviors that represent confusion. • Behavior may seem random and disorientated such as wandering, staring, pacing, sitting or rocking. • There are several types of behaviors that epitomize this phase. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  24. The student may attempt to rationalize his behavior and place the blame on others, which also coincides with denial of at least part of the episode. • Some students may attempt to reconcile with the teacher and may even state that they are sorry. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  25. The student may be responsive to concrete directions and engage in motor tasks. • However, at this point the student does not wish to discuss the incident. • Usually they want to be left alone. Often they are exhausted from the incident and want to rest. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  26. 7. “Life Goes On” • In this final “recovery” phase, the student returns to his normal non-agitated state. • A need to be busy with independent activities is essential. • The student will remain passive if he is forced to engage in-group work or class discussions. • He would just a soon forget the whole incident and is reluctant to talk about the phases of the episode. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  27. References • Walker, H., Colvin, G., & Ramsey, E. (1995). Antisocial behavior in school: Strategies and best practices. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. • All material adapted from Walker chapters 3 & 4 Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  28. Karen G. Smith (UMF)

  29. Karen G. Smith (UMF)