Misguided Power occurs when a child feels that they belong only when they are in control. It causes an adult to feel challenged, threatened, angry or even defeated. In these situations, there is usually a power struggle, or an attempt at a power struggle. It is up to the adult to find a way to disengage from this scenario. The authors suggest naming it as a power struggle and recommending that everyone calm down before continuing the discussion, validating the feelings of the student or even inquiring what is going on for the student at that time. In these types of situations, a child is really requesting that they help out or get some choices. Instead of sending a child in to fight, flight or freeze, these options decrease the amount of stress a child feels thus allowing them to participate in group problem solving.
In my life, misguided power seems to rule over us all-both at home and at school. As a staff, we talk about the kids who feel that they have no control over their lives, so they act out,causing power struggles all the time. I can see how giving these students some flexibility by allowing choices could be very empowering for them, allowing them to use their energy in a positive manner- following through with a given option-and allowing them to feel safe, secure and in control.
Can you think of a time that you dealt with a child operating under the mistaken goal of misguided power? Were you able to positively influence the situation? What did you do to move past the situation?
According to this section, revenge can begin at any time- it can begin at home, on the playground, etc, then taken out on anyone, including you, the teacher. The belief of the child with the mistaken goal of revenge is that they don’t feel they belong, which hurts them, so they will get even by hurting others. In these situations, it is important for the adults to validate their feelings.
It is important to note that children who are bullying others fall into this category of revenge.
Once again, connections with our students are super important. When children feel connected, wanted and loved, they are less likely to retaliate and seek revenge on others for their hurt feelings. In our school, we survey the students to ensure that they feel connected to 2 adults in the school building. If they cannot name at least 2 adults, we “target” these kids to ensure that by the end of the year, they felt a sense of belonging and connectedness with at least 2 adults. I encourage everyone to look for the kids who may not have any connections to the adults around them and try to make a connection with them.
- What are some ways in which you might build a bond with a student in your building?
According to Rudolf Dreikurs, no child is inadequate, but the child him/herself may feel inadequate. These children feel very discouraged and often avoid trying at all. Although these students do not often cause disruptions, they make the teachers and support staff feel quite discouraged as well, often causing a viscious cycle of discouragement on both the student and the teacher.
The authors state that the belief of the child displaying assumed inadequacy is that they give up and want to be left alone, but in actual fact, they are crying out for the adults around them to not give up on them. Showing these students a small step will help them considerably in the direction of feeling adequate.
Once again, making connections with the students will help to improve this feeling of inadequacy. A feeling of connection will help improve the child’s engagement in learning thus increasing their successes.
One of my students fell into this caegory. She struggled with school and with friendships. Her attendance at school was low and she would craft more than complete any assignments. Her and I worked on both of these areas over the past school year. By part way through the school year, my girl had made a group of friends and was coming to school more often. She learned how to use Google Read and Write and YouTube to complete research projects on topics of interest. She felt successful at school due to these two small improvements and she had her most successful year at school yet.
- Have you ever encountered a child with the mistaken goal of assumed inadequacy? Were you able to break through with the child? If so, how?
Attention. This is a difficult thing for teachers to understand. Are the students misbehaving or are they seeking support? That is always the difficulty we face. As we learn in this chapter, the main reason for the attention seeking behaviour is that the student wants the adult to involve them and to involve them usefully.
According to the Mistaken Goal Chart, when a child displays Undue Attention, the adult may feel annoyed, irritated, worried or guilty. They may try to coax the child into compliance just do it for them, knowing that they can do it themselves. (page 12) Instead, a better response could include setting up and following routines, engaging the student in problem solving or even involving the student in a useful task in order to gain useful attention. (page 13)
Involving the students meaningfully gives them a feeling of belonging, which in turn increases motivation and engagement.
Do you have any students displaying the mistaken goal of undue attention? How do you deal with them? Do your strategies work? How could you change your tactics to better support your student(s)?
Growing up, I was always told that we have 5 senses- taste, touch, sight, smell and hearing. When I began learning about Autism through our POPARD courses as a young teacher (well I was in my mid-late 20s), I learned about the vestibular and proprioceptive systems that are known as the “hidden senses”. Here I sit in my late 30s and I am being introduced to yet another sense- our interoception system, which allows us to feel our internal states and the condition of our bodies. Based onwhat I have learned so far, our interoception system is so very important! It allows us to feel everything from being cold, to hunger, to pain and pleasure right down to the need to use the facilities. In short- the interoception system helps keep us alive and functioning!
Probably my favourite part of this chapter is how they introduce “The Sensory Gang”. This reminds me of the “Little Miss… and Little Mr.” books- do you remember those? Anyways, this little section would be a great way to introduce students to all of these senses in a way that makes sense.
Another important piece of information I have learned in this very long chapter is that there is a special area in the brain that is responsible for interoception- the insular cortex (insula). It is responsible for changing the messages our bodies are giving into understandable feelings, both body states, such as hunger and emotional states, such as happiness. When your insular cortex is working properly, you are more aware of your states of being, you are in tune with yourself. If not, well, I guess we will find out further on in the book!
Self-regulation and interoception are very closely tied together. Since self-regulation is “our ability to control the way we feel and act” (pg. 13), and the interoception system gives our bodies messages about how we feel, they both seem to work hand-in-hand. It seems that if we have a good working insular cortex and are in tune with how our body is feeling, we should be able to better control these feelings and emotions.
Having a strong sense of interoceptive awareness allows for one to be better able to regulate the body in all areas. It allows one to regulate their emotions, recognize a problem and work through it and make important decisions whenever needed. A strong interoceptive system also allows one to navigate through the social norms. Perspective taking and empathy are also supported by the interoceptive system. Finally, interoception allows us to be more self-aware. It allows us to know who we are and how we feel in any given moment.
- What really stands out for you in this chapter?
- Where do you feel you stand in the area of your own personal interoceptive awareness?
I am sure that this is not new to anyone, but it is expressed in the very first paragragh- All students have a reason for their behaviours. Whether we understand these reasons or not, there is a reason none-the-less. As educators and adults, it is our responsibility to determine what that reason could be. Now if it were just me, I would have absolutely no clue what students were saying with their behaviours! Thankfully the authors Jane Nelsen and Kelly Gfroerer were kind enough to us a “Mistaken Goal Detective Clue Form” (page 11, continued on page 16) and a “Mistaken Goal Chart” on pages 12-15 to help us determine these reasons.
When I look at a repeated incident that happened with my youngest son while he was at daycare, I can see that he fit under the misguided power. He would intensify his behaviour whenever the adults in charge got angry wih him and tried to make him dowhat they wanted. He would get into the “You can’t make me” mode and intensify his behaviours even further, including throwing materials within the room, yelling, ignoring, and even running on top of the tables. In the end, I would get a phone call to come pick him up. If only they had used some of the ideas to be proactive and empowering of my child, they may have gotten different responses from him in the first place.
It is very important to ensure that issues are dealt with at an appropriate time and inan appropriate way with the child. Making sure that he/she feels safe is essential. Talking with the student privately when they are calm is needed to maintain the dignity of the child. The authors suggest asking the child, in an age appropriate way, if their behaviours fall under the different mistaken goal-whichever ones you feel their behaviours may fall under, then responding in a way that makes the child feel heard and understood, allowing the relationship to be repaired. It is absolutely imperative that empathy for the child is genuine-they can tell when you are being insincere. This will help build and maintain connections between the adult and child, allowing the child to feel they belong.
I will go through each of the Mistaken Goals seperately before moving on to Chapter 2.
- Look back on an incident you have had with a student (or even your own child) andd try to place their behaviours on the Mistaken Goal Chart. What could you have done differently?