One of the hardest behaviors for teachers and parents to swallow is when children do not follow their directions. There are three types of disobedient children:

o passive resistant children who ignore you, take their time in following through, complain, or do a half-hearted job
o defiant children who flatly say, “No, I won’t do it”
o “I’m-gonna-get-you” children who go out of their way to aggravate you, or do the exact opposite of what you ask them to do

All children are noncompliant some of the time. Not doing as they’re asked is a way for them to develop independence and control over their lives. For some children, however, saying “no” becomes a habit. This happens for different reasons: (a) parents are too permissive, authoritarian, or inconsistent in their child-rearing; (b) parents show disrespect themselves towards authority; (c) children have a strong-willed and persistent nature; (d) or children react to stress, display anger, or seek revenge.

o Build a positive relationship with children in your class. The more acceptant, cooperative, and sensitive to their needs you are, the more willing they’ll be to follow your directions. Do not confuse this, however, with being your students’ buddy, because this also encourages disobedience.

o Let children experience the natural consequences of not doing as you’ve asked them to. Sometimes it’s hard not to get involved. You want your children to be on time for school, eat their vegetables, or be good companions for friends, so you intervene, which typically prolongs their wrong behaviors. Just keep in mind that children can learn more from one personal experience than a barrage of reprimands.

o For resistant children who make you wait, reward them for doing as you ask within specific time limits. For instance, give children one point for following through on your requests within five seconds, and two points for following through immediately.

o If children refuse to follow through, assure them nothing else will be happening for them until they do what you asked them to do. They have a choice between complying now or an hour from now. By letting children decide for themselves, you’re giving them a face-saving option, which increases the chances of them doing what you want them to.

o Have a bottom-line buck-stopper, which you can rely on if students refuse to do what you ask. Give children a choice between cooperating with you now, or facing the final buck-stopping consequence, usually a visit to your school principal.

o Match your arm and leg positions with those of your children. This gives them the impression that you understand them. When you think they are ready to listen to you, shift your position and see if your children do the same. If they do, it means you are breaking down their resistance toward you.

o Be aware of your body positioning: (a) hold your body still and do not shift your weight; (b) look directly at the child’s face, and make sure he is looking at you; (c) do not hold objects or fidget; (d) avoid head movements, as they might give him the impression that you’re agreeing with him.

o Stand closer to children than you normally would. This likely will make them feel uncomfortable, and may disrupt their thinking long enough to short-circuit their defiance.