Posts Tagged ‘bad behavior’

“On stopping bad behavior.” – Doc Meek

Teddy Bear image from:



I suppose the best place to start is how to stop our own bad behavior. For example, if we are trying to stop someone’s outbursts of anger, it seems ludicrous to use our own anger in an attempt to do this. On the other hand, is there a place for anger?

 It’s “controversial”

And just what does controversial mean? At the most basic level, it means that opinions vary, sometimes very strongly.

So whose opinion gets to prevail? The biggest verbal bully? The most threatening to our health and welfare? What if our job is threatened?

 A school example 

(This will work at home as well, probably much better and much wiser, but only if an “outsider” does it, not the parent; the parent will probably not be able to withhold anger; some cultures have the “uncle” administer all “discipline” so as to preserve the parent’s gentler role and good relationship)

“Toughest” case I ever handled

I was called in one time to an inner-city elementary school because a Grade 6 boy was bullying other students on the playground at recess, at noon hour, and before and after school.

The principal and the teachers said he was unstoppable. They had tried “everything” and other students were suffering.

 No “hands on” allowed

 The teachers and all school staff were forbidden by school board policy to touch any student. Perhaps that is OK, I don’t know. All I know is that sometimes human touch is necessary to resolve violent human-touch issues.

I told the principal I would take the case if he would allow me to handle it my own way, without interference from him or any of the teachers or other staff.

Since the principal was totally defeated over this issue, he agreed.

Reluctantly. Of course. The man had wisdom and judgment.

 Calm “stealth” approach

I approached this boy (let’s call him Brandon) at recess. He was leaning up against the outside brick wall of the school, with his back to the wall. He was facing the schoolyard at the side of the school.

I put my back against the wall beside him, and said sideways:

“Hi Brandon, I’m Doc Meek.”

No response.

I continued:

“Brandon, I hear you are pushing other students around.”

No response.

He was only in Grade 6 but he was big enough to beat me up.

No response.

 Slow and gentle “wrap up”

“Brandon, are you able to just stop it?”

Came the slow answer:

“I don’t think so.”

“Here, let me show you something,” I said, sliding softly in behind him and the brick wall.

 The big teddy bear hug 

I reached gently around him with my two hands and held his left wrist with my right hand and his right wrist with my left hand. No anger in me.

Putting my knees slowly into the back of his knees, we slid softly to the ground. Now we are both sitting, Brandon with his legs extended and me with my legs extended around him. I put my legs over his legs in front of him. No anger in me.

“OK Brandon, we are just going to sit here until you just stop it, OK?” No anger in me.  

At this point Brandon decided he had had enough of this nonsense and decided to get up—tried very hard to get up in fact.

I held firm.

No anger in me. This was not my own child. I could be objective.

Since I had both of his wrists in my hands and both of his legs with my legs looped over his, he was completely “wrapped up,” thoroughly restricted in his efforts.

 No anger in me

The best he could do was try to bang his head backwards against my face, but I dodged by arching my head backwards just out of reach.

No anger in me.

Now Brandon attempted to get really violent. To no avail.

 Embedded “commands”

I whispered in this ear (no anger in me):

“The toughest cases always turn out to be the best guys.”

And I whispered other “comforting” phrases which did not reduce his violence one bit.

But his brain was registering. And his back was registering my slow and measured breathing and the slow expansion and contraction of my rib cage. No anger in me.

 The body registers kinesthetically

This will not work if anger is used.

I held him firm and whispered in his ear:

“I’ll let you go as soon as you decide to just stop it.”

And later: “Have you decided you can just stop it?”

His body was registering all along my quiet and measured breathing.

 Brandon has “enough”

 Finally Brandon decided he had enough and said:

“OK, I’ll just stop it.”

I instantly released him.

And he instantly began angrily swearing at me.

I instantly “wrapped him up” again and we sat quietly again with my back against the brick wall of the school.

I had to be really quick since he was not happy about me holding him.

No anger in me.

 More time… more embedded “commands”

I kept whispering good stuff in his ear, from time to time.

Brandon tried the “OK, I’ll just stop it” several more times and I had to “wrap him up” again several more times.

We sat there in silence (Brandon had quit resisting my gentle but firm hold on him) until school let out for the day.

 More time… silence

All the other students departed for home. No one bothered us sitting there at the side of the school.  The principal went home, without even seeing us “perched” at the side of the school.

We “sat on” in silence. I was getting tired. And so was Brandon.

The janitor came out of the school and came around to the side where we were “perched.” He observed from a distance and went back inside.

We “sat on” until sundown.  Measured breathing.

 Brandon actually achieves “enough”

Finally Brandon announced (with real conviction):

“OK, I’ll just stop it.”

And he did.

Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA, May 16, 2015

P.S. Another time, I was called into a Sunday School class to help with an “impossible” child. I “wrapped him up” in a gentle bear hug.

The parents and teachers were more trouble than the child.

We (child and I) only had to sit on the floor for an hour on this one.

Easier than than “all-day” Brandon.

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