Dealing with Non-Compliance

Having problems with non-compliance? Well you shouldn’t be because it’s not behavior!

Non-compliance, although it could take the form of “no” is basically non-behavior and it can only be defined relative to what we want done. It is defined by simply not doing what the authority figure wants done. If you decide not to eat your ice-cream, but there is no expectation to eat your ice-cream then it’s not non-compliance. If I tell you “eat your ice-cream!” and you don’t, NOW we call it non-compliance. If one student tells another to punch his class mate in the face and he says “no” is he non-compliant, or a good boy?

The idea is to not have a goal to rid the child of non-compliance as it is not a property of the child e.g., “he’s so non-compliant”

The idea is to decide what does he need to do, and lets get him to do it. It’s also important not to make the target behavior too broad, e.g., “James will follow all school rules and policies...” Instead it should be something achievable, e.g., “James will start an assignment within 2 minutes of being asked.”

There’s 2 broad categories of not wanting to do something

1. I don’t like something about this task or genre of tasks (all work involving handwriting) but i’ll do others. This requires an analysis of what the student is reluctant to do. If he’s reluctant to write, why? How’s his handwriting? Is it easy for him? Difficult? Slow? This is usually the easier of the two problems to remedy through analysis and addressing needed skills, prompting, and/or appropriate reinforcement.

2. Whatever you want me to do, I want the opposite (just to give you a hard time). This 2nd one is a very different problem and one of an aberrant reinforcer. That is, the student enjoys causing problems by not doing what he should because (perhaps) it’s one of the few things he can reliably control. He can refuse. Some of these kids are labeled as ODD but that’s not really important for our purposes here, what’s important is understanding the motivation for the so-called non-compliance.

Was Rosa Parks a civil rights visionary or was she non-compliant? Well, depends on who you ask. The bus driver may have thought she was non-compliant. Others thought she was performing an act of self-advocacy.

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