When Children Are Defiant

I once taught a second grader who sometimes subtly refused to go along with what we were doing. For instance, if we had to leave the classroom and John didn't want to go, he'd get in line—but then walk as slowly as possible. The more his classmates and I urged him to walk faster, the slower he would go. At each deliberate step, I could feel my blood pressure rise. But in that moment, I could do little. I couldn't physically make John walk faster; nor was he ready to rationally discuss his feelings or options. Rarely did a student's behavior get to me, but John's resistance always did.
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