The Kid Whisperer: How to prevent and mitigate serious negative behaviors (Part 1 of 3)

Scott Ervin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Kid #3: SO!?!

Kid Whisperer: I just noticed. I noticed Kid #4 is being patient and waiting his turn…


When behaviors are slightly off track, but don’t need a Learning Opportunity (consequence), we can gently guide kids back on track without making demands, which make things worse.

Kid is in an escalating argument with another student.

Kid Whisperer, to Kid: What’s next?

Kid Whisperer hovers next to Kid, thereby causing the intensity of the argument to dissipate slightly.


Kid Whisperer looks confusedly at Kid, as if to say, “You are awesome, that behavior is less than awesome, so what are you doing? I’m confused.”

Kid stops arguing and Kid Whisperer continues to teach.

Do you see the difference between gently guiding kids without using demands, and not holding the student accountable at all? These Gentle Guidance Interventions make behaviors and your work experience better, while not holding kids accountable is utterly cruel and destructive to your students and to yourself.

This will not, however, immediately make everything all better, because your students have had fantastical success over an extended period of time at getting attention, control and avoidance with negative behaviors. This is why, especially for these “ejector seat” behaviors, you have to be able to be the calm scorekeeper when the student leaves the room, and then, upon their return, during non-instructional time, teach them the positive behaviors that they struggle with as a calm teacher, not as an angry tyrant.

I’ll show you how to do that next week!

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