Teaching young offenders

A couple of days a week I teach young offenders who are at times very difficult to control and manage. Today we had a game of soccer which they all got on with. However, at the end of the session they wouldn’t stop playing eventhough I had told them it was the end of the session. I always prewarn them how many minutes are left in the game.

I wasn’t going to raise my voice and tell them over and over again as I know that would encourage the to carry on playing. When they finished I had a chat with a few of them. I mentioned that the lesson is as much theirs as it is mine and it is about co-operation / relationship. If they get on well which they can do I am willing to design / plan and deliver fun lessons etc.

Any suggestions? Was i wrong to mention that the lesson should be a partnership.

Charlie gave a great example which I will probably have to use in the summer.

…an example of this before, regarding a Coach who was also a teacher at one of the toughest schools in Toronto. He was in his class on a very hot day when the toughest kid took off his shirt. He said: “Put your shirt back on.” The kid replied: “Why should I?” Now, if he’d said: “Cause I say so.”, it could lead to a fight. If he ignored it, it would lead to a breakdown in order. So he said: “Cause you’re turning me on!” Everyone laughed, including the kid, who put his shirt back on. That’s experience and no amount of theorizing can prepare you for that.
Successful coaching is a matter of adapting to realities, not spouting lines from a “Red Book” like Chairman Mao’s Red Guard.

Good example. But then again you never know nowadys, shit is backwards. Sexual Harrasment comes to mind. lol.

The example you mentioned of embarrassing a kid into obeying is a good one, but that doesn’t always work. All kids have to learn at some point that there are consequences for disobedience. You may have to find some way to make them suffer consequences for not ending the game when told.

Cheers. I read some material last night which recommended to give those who disobey tasks to complete. For example, the last individual to finish the session would be required to answer a number of questions re the session. Or if one individual is contiually late to the session they have to write a small note why they were late every time they are??

What do you think?

This may cause comments, but Dr. Phil’s Family First book would be a great place to learn to deal with kids. In it he talks about the 5 personalities of kids and parents (here this is you), and how sometimes they can conflict. He also talks about finding the kids currency. It’s really clear and really works.
I was working with 4 horrible eight grades before and I would try every for of punishment, but to them every was just funny. Finally I found that these kids wanted more than anything to keep working out, so to them sitting out the rest of the class was the worst punishment possible, not; yelling, push-ups, running, detention. So the threat (and follow through) of missing class worked best.
Anyways, get the book because it is very straight forward and very logical, and it works.

I’ll definitely have a look at that book. Would you recommend trying to re-establish some rules or getting them to do just that e.g., give them a question such as what / how do you will think you will get the best out of this session?

Or I was thinking of taking a couple of women’s wigs to the session to humiliate the one’s that turn up late or misbehave? Wear the wig! Not sure if that is a good ideas – any thoughts? Trying to sin bin them is very difficult.

I would not do the wig idea. Kids, especially troubled ones, (but just kids in general) want attention. Attention is attention to them, and this will only give attention to them. They will either resent you or use this as a plateform to get attention from you and the class.
It really depends on how much true power you really have above them. Don’t make threats that you can’t back up. Instead be 100 % clear on the repercussions and then stick to them 100 %. Again, be ready to stand by them, so don’t be to rigid or threatening. They are still kids and structure, no matter how much they act like they hate it, makes them feel safe within that system.
Also, give them positive attention and “catch them doing something good”. Maybe only send attention to positive actions or behaviors. They will catch on quickly.
Basically, just don’t be to rigid right off the bat because they will test you and you don’t want to be backed against the wall.

“finding the kids currency” good idea.

Could you explain a little? Thanks!

The following is taken from Family First. Please remember that it is written for working with your own kids, so please adapt as necessary.

Tool 4:
Parenting with Currency

Part 1:
Basic Steps in Identifying & Creating Desirable Behaviors
Step 1: Identify Specific Target Behaviors

Focusing on the positive is always the best way to deal with a child, so we’ll first target those behaviors that you want your child to begin performing. This category may also include behaviors that your child may occasionally perform but you want to increase their frequency, intensity or duration.

  1. Within the scope of the child’s abilities.
  2. Narrow in scope.
  3. Unambiguously definded.
  4. Measurable.

Step 2. Determining Currency

Based on human nature, there must be a reward or payoff for your child to actively adopt more desirable behaviors. That’s not an indictment of your child as being unduly selfish. It is human nature. Everyone approaches a given situation thinking “What’s in this for me?” to some degree. Children are certainly that way, because they have not yet been socialized to spend much time considering the thoughts or feelings or needs of others.
Children can be both selfish and power-seeking. I’m not saying they are Children of the Corn-style evil beings. They are just kids looking to survive and looking to get their needs and wants met. I’m pointing out their nature because if you want to be successful in dealing with people you have to understand what makes them tick. You have to meet them where they are, and if children are greedy, then appeal to the greed. Children want what they want when they want it and they want it now. So figure out a way for them to get as much of what they want through appropriate behavior.

All of us work for payoffs at some level. That’s just human nature. What constitutes a payoff varies from one person to another. As the oder saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It is for that reason that you must empirically define whether a given consequence is truly positive for your child. That means that you just can’t decide that some consequence is a reward just because you think it is or ought to be. You must determine a positive currency for your child based on what she likes or dislikes and what she is willing to work to get. One of the most powerful currencies for a child is the parents’ acceptance and approval. If your child isn’t influenced when you say “great job” or “you are disappointing me,” then they don’t care what yo think. And that’s a sad commentary on your relationship. You will need to do some major repair work because you have been written off. In most cases, children write off a parent if they think the parent doesn’t truly care about them. They shun you and your influence to strike back. That way, if you hurt them, they can say, “I don’t care.”

As I said earlier, I have had so many parents of “problem” children tell me that their children value nothering, respond to nothing and are willing to work for nothing. Those parents are wrong. They just haven’t found the currency yet or they have arbitrarily decided what works as a reward for their child. All children have currency, levers and hot buttons. If you want to have influence over your children, you must empirically identify and then control their favorite currency.
Children need to reconize a direct connection between their levels of performance and their quality of life. There are a number of different currencies that can vary with your child’s age. Onc currency for adults is monetary. At least in theory, if adults do an excellent job, they get an excellent paycheck. With yor child, one form of currency, for example, would be be grades earned in school. I believe it’s important to teach children how the world works, so i believe that if grades are designated as an important currency and a child has an A level of performance, they should enjoy an A level lifestyle. If the child has a B level of performance, they should have a B level lifestyle. If the child makes C’s in school, they should have a C level lifestyle. This teaches them how the world works. It also gives them that sense of kid power and mastery and control of their excistence that is so critical to the development of a child’s sense of self. They also learn that valuable lesson: When you choose the behavior you choose the consequences. This is critical for learning responsibility.

So it’s important to determine what currency works for your child and for you too. Do you know your child’s currency? Do you have a plan for using it to shape behavior? Or do you just hand out candy indiscriminately, because they are entitled? Here’s a definition of exactly what I mean be currency.
Currency is anything that when presented during or immediately after a target behavior will increase the likelihood of that behavior occuring again. In other words, it is something the kid will work to get.
Not the emphasis on “during” and “immediately after.” You must be very careful about your timing or you can inadvertently reinforce the very behavior that you’re trying to eliminate.
Currency can also motivate a child in the negative. What that means is that children are willing to perform Behavior A in order to escape Consequence B.

  1. Categories of Potential Positive Currency
    Tangible/Exrinsic Reinforcers: Material, money, food, token economies. External rewards are derived from the world and the people in it- as opposed to self-rewards. But, be careful not to overdo the external material rewards. To the extent that extrinsic rewrds such as toys, privileges and money go up in value, internal motivation goes down. A parent who wants to boast about his child’s grades and gives 20 dollars for each A is offering extrinsic reinforcement that is unlikely to inspire the child to take pride in the grades or to develop a healthy thirst for knowledge. A major mistake parents make is over-rewarding their kids to the point that it becomes bribery. Too much reward may defeat the self-motivation that most parents seek to instill in their children.
    Token Economies:
    Social Reinforcers: Attention, affection, affirmations.
    Implied Reinforcers: Certificates, privileges, titles.
    Natural/Intrinsic Reinforcers: The good feelings the child gets inside for making progress toward goals, the satisfaction of porformance and self-concept changes.

  2. Identifying the Child’s Potential Currencies

Step 3: Administration of Currencies

Shaping Complex Behaviors a Step at a Time

Part II: Identifying and Eliminating Negative Behaviors

Step 1: identify the problem behavior
Step 2: Commit to Withdrawing Currency

Please don’t take the above as the entire books theme or only approach. Above is part of a chapter, where each chapter is a tool. There are 10 tools in all, so it is rather obvious that more that just that is involved.
Good stuff though, I recommend it to everyone, parent, teach or just someone trying to figure out themself and co-workers.
This and his Life Strategies are well worth it.