Behaviour Choices and The Two Killer Questions

ALT KEY WORDSAs a behaviour management tool, choices are over-rated.

I hate giving kids choices as a behaviour management tool.

Giving choices puts the student in the driver seat. You lose control. Use these two killer questions in your behaviour management repertoire and retain your classroom authority.



Choices in Behaviour Management.

Typically using choices as a behaviour management strategy goes something like this.

Student plays up and the teacher says.

"You have two choices. Either you sit back in your chair and get back to work or I will call the principal and have you removed."

Who is in the driver's seat now?

Of course - the student is now in control.

You now have to wait for his/her response.


Giving students choices enables them to disenfranchise you from the decision making process in your own classroom.  


The student now has the authority. You just handed them the baton.

Sometimes choices just aren't the best behaviour management strategy to use because there is a risk of it backfiring.

Move away from the threatening behaviour management technique.

Don't use the dreaded make a choice behaviour management strategy.
A killer two pronged motivational questioning strategy.

Behaviour Management and Questioning.

Try this two pronged motivational questioning strategy.

Question 1. (The Right Jab!)

“On scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning ‘not the least bit ready,” and 10 being ‘totally ready,’ how ready are you to do your work?”

I have never met a student, even the biggest of turkeys, who wouldn’t take this challenge on.

Chances are, the student will pick a low number and turn around and snicker to his mates. Suppose he answers, “2”.


Question 2. (Pahtwow! The Right Hook!)

Now move in for the kill. You ask the student, “Why didn't you choose a 1?”

The second question is the killer and often catches kids off guard. Now the student has to defend their position, especially if he was being a smart alec to his peers.

The student now has to answer why he’s not a 1. In other words, he moves from defending his current behaviour to articulating why he is really making some (albeit small) effort.

Equally important, he begins to state his own autonomous, intrinsically motivated reasons for doing something.

When people have their own reasons for doing something, they believe those reasons more deeply and adhere to them more strongly.

Let's say he chooses a "1".

The subsequent killer question would be, "What do you have to do to turn that into a '2' ?"

Notice how the onus is on the student to accept responsibility. “ What do YOU have to do …”

The question should not be, “What has to happen…” as the response might be directed toward you as the teacher.

If the student chooses any other number the subsequent question would be, "Why did you choose that number?" or even more challenging, “Why didn’t you say a 4?” Always go one lower than the number stated.


The student is rationalising the effort he is putting into the work and substantiating his position to you and his class mates.   


Follow Up Questioning.

Don’t go overboard with many more questions otherwise it will turn into an interrogation.

You could follow up with one more question which could be, “What would you need to put in place to move up 1 place (or to a 3, 5 etc)?”

Be satisfied with any answer provided and move on.

Have you checked out the Behaviour Management online course?


Do it Now and build your behaviour management repertoire.