How To Influence Defiant Students

How To Influence Defiant Students
How To Influence Defiant Stidents
Here’s a photo of some of the lovely staff that came to the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith, Sydney, New South Wales Australia.

Tips on how to deal with defiant students

School staff find themselves dealing with students that are defiant and who really don’t want to make a change. Here are a couple of quick tips.

The first thing we need to do is to acknowledge the resistance. This sounds very simple but is very difficult to do. Often times, you might be speaking to a student who is skipping class or truanting. To be able to acknowledge the resistance, you can saying something like “You know, I can probably understand that you don’t want to come to school because you really don’t like it.”  A phrasing or statement that acknowledges the student’s resistance really creates rapport and helps us gain trust with the student.

Second, we need to talk about whether the student’s behavior is creating pain for them. This is leverage to help them consider change.  You might want to ask some statements or questions:

“Is what you’re doing working for you?”

“Are you sick and tired of doing this?”

“Is getting in trouble all the time annoying you?”

“Are you sick and tired of getting in trouble all the time?”

These sorts of questions will help us understand whether there is a pain point there for the student and we can use that as leverage to get them to consider change.

A very important principle to consider: When we tell a student or anyone what to do, even if they wanted to do it, the motivation for doing it lowers.  What we need to do, if we’re trying to influence people, is to try to get them to consider the reason why the change may be of benefit to them.  Let’s go back and review:

  • One, we want to acknowledge the resistance; develop rapport.
  • Two, we want to find a pain point; create leverage so the student may consider change or a change in behavior.
  •  Lastly, getting the student to consider why a different behavior would be good for them.  Some  questions like. . .

“Why might you changing be of good benefit to you?”

 “Why do you think coming to school may be good for you?”

I hope these tips are a reminder for those of you who attended the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith and for anyone else who may consider coming along. Thank you!

Here are testimonials from attendees at the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith 2012

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I find the Accidental Counsellor Training to be useful in terms of new strategies or new techniques on how to work with students.

Carol Wallace, Jamison High School

The thinking from the Accidental Counsellor Training seems straightforward. The strategies helped shift my thinking about “helping” students but practicing it is much harder. It’s very easy to see the benefits, though.

Dan Jones, Cherrybrook Techonology High School

The Accidental Counsellor Workshop was great. Rocky was really dynamic and passionate. It was catching. The content was interesting and the strategies were practical. I was given practical strategies of what to do and was reassured that I’m not expected to work miracles. I feel I can go back to school with something I can put into place.

Laura Hodge, Bossley Park High School

I’ve gotten a lot out of the Accidental Counsellor Workshop due to the clear examples and the time to role play situations with students.

Peter Hartman, Cherrybrook Technology High School

What I learned from the Accidental Counsellor Training is the recognition that the student with the problem or issue needs to want to change and own the change. It is not our job to offer a solution. We need to lead them to decide what and why they want to change. A passionate and believable presenter with realistic and practical strategies. It all makes perfect sense. Thank you!


I really believe the Accidental Counsellor Training would be extremely useful for all teachers to attend. It was thoroughly positive and realistic. It had a great mix of video clips, re-enactments, talk, etc.

Colette Hamilton, Menai High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training was very useful and very applicable to teaching.

Catherine Bargmann, St Clair High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training has provided lots of options of things to try with our students; a different approach to how I usually do things just like getting the students to come up with their own strategies rather than us giving it to them.

Amie Piper, Niland School

You mentioned your wife and daughter so many times. I think having a wonderful, supportive family goes a long way in making a person successful in a “people- helping” job. You’ve been excellent!

Anna Varghese, Model Farms High School

I am so excited to take back and apply what I have learnt over the last two days from the Accidental Counsellor Training. I feel more prepared and equipped to talk to students, meet them where they are at, and challenge and encourage positive behavior. The role plays were so good to be able to think like a student or counsellor and think about people’s perspectives.

Corinne Bessell, Menai High School

There were some great insights I learnt from the Accidental Counsellor Training into seeking information from students.

Richard Harrison, Mount Carmel Catholic High School

The Accidental Counsellor Training gave me lots of ideas to deal with students and how to make school a happy place.

Norbert Jahn, Niland School

Attendees from the following schools joined the Accidental Counsellor Training in Penrith

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  • Jamison High School
  • Mitchell High School
  • Bossley Park High School
  • Good Shepherd Primary
  • Kingswood High School
  • Lynwood Park Public School
  • Mount Carmel Catholic High School
  • Niland School
  • Model Farms High School
  • Magdalene Catholic High School
  • Casula Public School
  • Elderslie High
  • Tregear Public School
  • Cherrybrook Technology High School
  • Menai High School
  • Hoxton Park High School
  • St Clair High School

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