Frame it Positively

  • Situation

    What do I do when my student insists on doing or showing something immediately?

  • Summary

    Try not to use negative words to respond to your student. For example if J.T. wants to show the class a new souvenir and is told, “No, not now. It is not Show and Tell time”, his behavior will most likely escalate. Instead, Frame it Positively: “Yes, that is a great idea, I would want to show that too. The best times today are right before recess or right before departure – which do you like the best?” This can immediately de-escalate J.T.’s anxiety about showing the item and he can feel some control over a situation the teacher has structured for him.

  • Definition

    This created term refers to a form of interruption redirection. Though Interruption/Redirection is a term typically used to decrease stereotypic behaviors, in this case the adult’s verbal response interrupts a student’s obsessive thought, perceived immediate need or off-task behavior and replaces it with a question choice and in some instances empathetic statement first. The process negates adults using the words “no, not, don’t, can’t, later”. This procedure can prevent and/or de-escalate behavior issues.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+
    • Planning Effort: Low
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    Ability to understand student needs within the moment

  • Process

    1. If the student is “in the moment” and displaying interfering behaviors – immediately assess the function and student needs.
    2. Agree and empathize with the student, per the above scenario: “Yes I would want to show that too….”.
    3. Begin to provide a structured choice question and options the student has control over such as: “The best times today are right before recess, or right before departure.”
    4. Be sure to delete from your vocabulary the following words: “NO, NOT, DON’T, CAN’T, LATER“.
  • Documents and Related Resources (website article)


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