WHEN MISBEHAVIOR BECOMES THE NORM




Back in the day, when I was involved in running the Adlerian elementary and middle school, I would produce several performances throughout the year.  During the rehearsals leading up to the show, we would always have a few kids who felt discouraged about one thing or another and it would manifest itself in the way they behaved.  All discouragement is, in part, due to feelings of inadequacy, which arise from our belief that we have to earn our worth and our place in this world.  Those same kids would start to act out, not their assigned part, but rather by creating a disturbance back stage, undermining other's efforts and putting their own agenda above the interest of the group.  The way I approached the problem was to avoid getting into it with them and also by not giving them the airtime or an audience.  I asked them to leave the stage, until such time as they were able to participate in a helpful manner. When they returned, (and they always did) we all welcomed them back.  Over time, we would address their discouragement, a longer process, but the immediate action was to not accept the misbehavior.  This allowed our core community and the people who chose to be there, to interact with one another in a more connecting and caring manner.  

So I ask myself today, why is the mainstream media giving “misbehavior” airtime and amplifying all those voices that are undermining any attempt to problem solve, encouraging divisiveness and disturbance?  Maybe there is a good reason for that and one which we need to start paying attention to.  When no boundaries were set in the classroom, when people were allowed to misbehave, it was typically because someone wanted to divert attention from their own misbehavior and feelings of inadequacy.  This often led to further discouragement by everyone else in the group. People who had at one point in time behaved in a helpful way, now were unhelpful.  The atmosphere changed and it became the acceptable thing to misbehave.   This then typically led to a classroom crashing and burning, so to speak, which further undermined those of us who were working towards building a cooperative school community.  

The Alfred Adler Family Education Center was initiated as an extension of the school.  Our purpose for the center and furthermore its online community is to build a connecting and caring environment where people can contribute their ideas and discuss various topics, all in the spirit of growing, learning and sharing.  We hope that people become familiar with Adlerian third force psychology and that it will provide them with a grounding theory for understanding themselves and others in their community.  Our purpose is to provide useful information to promoting functioning communities and improved relationships between people. We do not accept misbehavior as a norm, we will not give it airtime or an audience. We do however, believe that together we can address our own discouragement and that of others, without jumping into the fray.  By building our own internal self worth, knowing we don’t have to prove anything, setting boundaries and holding each of us accountable, we can learn to interact with one another in more useful and helpful ways. 

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