Bandaging Negative Behavior

I’m thinking back to my previous years in education and I can remember many instances in which I dealt with negative behavior in one way, shape, or form.  Often times I had so much going on that I did everything in my power to deflect it.  I put a band-aid on it so to speak.

A student would be sent to my office for doing something inappropriate, and I slapped them with a 30-minute detention.  They stayed in my office until the period was over.  Even before I was a principal – as a teacher I would send students to the office for inappropriate behavior.  The principal would do his thing and the next day the student was back in my classroom.

This was the norm.  This was my way, and the school’s way of fixing negative behavior.  If the behavior was bad enough the student may receive an (ISS) or even worse an (OSS). The problem with this however is clear.  This was a band-aid approach to fixing negative behavior.  I so wish I could go back and do it over again.  If only I knew then what I know now I could have led these students on a brighter path.

Many of our students have deeper wounds.  Wounds that can’t be healed or fixed with a band-aid.   So often we punish the “what” instead of diving into the “why.”  I’ve said this before, but I need to say it again.  “What we see with our eyes can blind us from reality, but what we see with our hearts can reflect the truth.”  This statement is so true.  What makes a tree a tree is the roots, and similarly what makes a person a person is their roots.  Instead of trimming the tree and eliminating all the bad branches, why don’t we take care of the roots, water the roots, allow sunlight to penetrate the roots, and soon many of the branches will begin to heal.

I’m not sure how bad of a comparison that actually was, but you get my point.  If we nurture and find the root causes of negative behavior, only then will we be able to begin the process of healing.

Speaking as a parent now, I must say that this is quite hard to do.  I have expectations for my children and when they don’t reach those expectations I’m quick to punish.  Maybe you can relate.  Putting words to action is not easy.  But reaching every child must start at us wrapping our hands around their roots.

Join me in a Nurturing the Roots campaign.  Make a promise to yourself that from this day forward you will do the following…

  1. I will not concern myself with the “what,” rather I will dive in to the “why.”
  2. I will not put a band-aid on negative behavior, rather I will try to heal by getting to the root cause.
  3. I understand that nourishment is much more powerful than punishment.
  4. I will look at branches with my heart and not just my eyes, and I will remember that with a little TLC any branch can bloom.

None of this will come easy, but we have got to stop putting band-aids on bad behavior.  We must see with our hearts.  Every child has a chance to do great things in this world.  Maybe the most important thing we can give a child is a chance.  Seek to understand rather than discipline to deflect.  Let’s hold each other accountable with this.  Together our actions can and will create an equal or positive reaction (so as long as) our actions focus on nourishing the roots.


Travis Jordan